Stanford dealing with two-point controversy
November 19, 2009
Stanford’s two-point conversion has turned into something of a 2-point controversy.
The Cardinal upset Southern California 55-21 Saturday, giving the Trojans three losses this season and dropping them in the polls to No. 22, their lowest ranking since 2002.
Up 48-21 and with 6:47 left in the game, Stanford went for a 2-point conversion. Some considered that overkill.
Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh said he has heard the critics.
“I’ve been reading some people’s opinion that somehow this is something personal with coach (Pete) Carroll,” Harbaugh said on a conference call with reporters. “That couldn’t be further from the truth. There was nothing personal. I’m not trying to make any enemies.”
Harbaugh, however, went on to pull out the battle analogy.
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“We kind of yuck it up before the game. We kind of always end it with ‘time to go to war.’ And then you go out and try to gouge each other’s eyes out. You do the same thing in recruiting. It’s great competition. But these games are decided on the field by the players,” he said.
The Trojans seemed none to happy with the move in the aftermath of the game.
“I don’t feel like commenting,” safety Taylor Mays was quoted as saying.
Pete Carroll said that opposing teams will do what they do. But he more than hinted at being miffed.
“I don’t know what they were thinking with that, but in that situation, they get to do whatever they want,” he said.
The Cardinal (7-3, 6-2 Pac-10) surged to No. 14 in the AP poll. Stanford, Arizona and Oregon State each have only two conference losses, threatening Oregon’s tenuous top spot in the league standings in the season’s final stretch.
Southern California, which has a bye this weekend, tumbled from No. 11.
The Trojans (7-3, 4-3) have been ranked in 128 consecutive media polls dating to the start of the 2002 season. They haven’t been ranked lower than No. 13 since October 2002.
Meanwhile, Harbaugh is close to completing a contract extension with Stanford.
Athletic director Bob Bowlsby was expected to announce a new deal shortly. The two sides were close to announcing an extension after last season but talks were put on hold in February because of the poor economy.
SAMSON STEPS IN: Arizona State sophomore quarterback Samson Szakacsy has made an impression, and not just with his free-spirited personality.
Sun Devils coach Dennis Erickson said Szakacsy is taking snaps with the first team this week. That could lead to a start Saturday against UCLA.
Szakacsy came in off the bench last weekend against Oregon when true freshman starter Brock Osweiler left after being hit hard in the first half. Szakacsy stayed in for the second half because he was able to move the ball.
Arizona State (4-6, 2-5 Pac-10) lost 44-21, but Szakacsy completed 13 of 22 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Szakacsy, who once committed to USC, had elbow surgery two years ago.
“We’ve just never have seen him because he’s been hurt all the time,” Erickson said. “So we’re going to let him take that first group quite a bit in the next few days and see where he’s at.”
Szakacsy, whose hair hangs well past his shoulders, is a global sustainability major who is also a musician in the bands Bent Twig and Walking Charly. His introduction on his MySpace page reads: “My name is Samson and I am from Mars.”
HONORS: Stanford running back Toby Gerhart, UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers and Cal kicker Giorgio Tavecchio have been named the league’s players of the week.
Gerhart, who is getting considerable Heisman Trophy buzz, rushed for 179 yards and three touchdowns in Stanford’s 55-21 victory at USC last weekend.
Gerhart is ranked third nationally among running backs with an average of 139.5 yards rushing per game. He has run for 1,395 yards overall this season with 19 touchdowns.
Gerhart has won the Pac-10 offensive player of the week honors the last two weeks.
Ayers intercepted two passes – which both led to Bruin touchdowns – and had two quarterback sacks in UCLA’s 43-7 victory at Washington State. He also had four solo tackles.
Tavecchio made four of five field goal attempts in Cal’s 24-16 victory over Arizona.
CRUSHED COUGARS: As if it couldn’t get worse for Washington State, a starting linebacker was arrested for assault and a defensive tackle has been suspended for the last two games of the season.
Linebacker Jason Stripling was arrested in Pullman early Sunday morning on suspicion of fourth-degree assault and obstructing a public servant, both misdemeanors.
Coach Paul Wulff said Tuesday that Stripling would be suspended for the first quarter of Saturday’s game against Oregon State.
Meanwhile, defensive tackle Toby Turpin has been suspended for the season’s final two games for violating team rules. The junior had started six games this season and had 28 tackles with two sacks.
The Cougars did not specify which rules Turpin had violated.
His absence hurts Washington State’s already depleted defensive line. Dan Spitz might not be able to play because of a concussion, and defensive end Jesse Feagin has missed three games with a broken hand.
On top of that, the Cougars may be without starting quarterback Jeff Tuel, who is questionable with a knee injury. Either Marshall Lobbestael or Kevin Lopina will go if Tuel cannot play.
Washington State is 1-9 overall this season, and winless in seven Pac-10 games.