Ratto: Stanford's Luck Gives a Lesson in Physics

November 21, 2010, 1:36 am
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Thiswas Andrew Luck on the face-the-music moment he inflicted on Cal's SeanCattouse in Saturday's 48-14 Big Game victory by Stanford:"I didn't really get a good look at him before we came together. I just hit him and let physics take over."Okay then. It was the immutable laws of physics that explainedStanford's most lopsided victory over Cal in a non-rugby-rules BigGame. The really good team faces the okay team and uses basic physicalproperties over and over again to administer an inspirational beatdown.And if one play explained it for the unseasoned, it was Luck'scollision with Cattouse midway through his 58-yard sprint from his ownpocket into Cal's heart. The almost sure Heisman Trip invitee brokefrom his pocket on a third-and-five from his own 21 hoping to extendthe drive, saw green, then saw a flash of blue out of the corner of hisleft eye at the Cal 45 and moved Cattouse involuntarily with hisforearm - his forearm, for God's sake.And yeah, "moved" can be said with emphasis. Cattouse, one of theGolden Bears' best defenders, came hard from the left side and wasdriven five yards up the left hashmark.At the moment, the game ended. There were throws and runs and blocksand pass defenses and all the other things that TV colormen like tospew about, but with 4:52 left in the first quarter, the moment Luckdelivered the blow to Cattouse, Cal's chances of upsetting thesixth-ranked Cardinal evaporated into nothing."He's gotta be a 4.5 guy," Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh said of Luck,lapsing into NFL combine-speak for any scouts in the audience, "andhe's big and strong and he's got real good speed. It was fun to watchhim run. I just like to see him play."Cal coach Jeff Tedford wasn't nearly so excited, though. He expectedmore of his team than a game like this, but he does know a thoroughbredwhen it canters on his team's face."No, I'm not surprised by that," he said, the disappointment tighteninghis jaw with every word that he forced out of it. "He outweighsCattouse. When I saw him at the luncheon (Monday) I saw up close howbig and strong he is. He's a powerful guy. That's why I keep sayinghe's the best quarterback in the country in my opinion."Tedford, of course, saw more than just the one run. He saw three earlyturnovers and nine penalties that enhanced Stanford drives anddestroyed one of Cal's. He saw his team owned at home, an unusualenough event under any circumstances, and owned by Stanford, aparticularly galling thing especially given the way Harbaugh ripped theCal players for their pregame noisemaking."The Cal players talked a lot of trash before the game during thewarmups," he said, referring to the events that led to both teamsapproaching each other around the coin toss and resulted in a Calpenalty and the ejection of Stanford sophomore Jamal-Rashad Patterson,who took a swing at Cal's C.J. Moncrease in response to an apparentprovocation."We told our team to keep its poise, maintain its discipline, but Idon't like that kind of football where you try and talk and intimidate.It's not real. You play with your feet and your legs and your hands.Just play football. Shut up and play football."Safety Richard Sherman, though, said the talking was not unilateral. "They talked, and we talked, and you just got a conflict of interests."He said this while shirtless and shoeless, having been partly denudedby Stanford fans who were celebrating an enormous win that was dampenedonly by the come from behind victories by Ohio State and LSU, keepingtheir postseason plans in stasis. They are 10-1, the first time they'veever won 10 games without benefit of a bowl win, and watching Luckbrazenly throw into double coverage and come out a winner every time isenough to almost make any bowl committee forget the fact that Stanfordis a notoriously poor travel school.Losses by LSU and Ohio State would have made it harder to keep Stanfordfrom a BCS bowl, probably the Rose. As it is, the Cardinal still needshelp to get what Harbaugh is loath to say it deserves, although hetried."We'll see, we'll see," he said, when asked what postseason reward the Cardinal deserved. "Definitely something good."Now there's a headline: "Harbaugh Approves Of Good Things For HisTeam." Right up there with "U.S. Explorers Discover Farmland In Kansas."Whatever happens tomorrow, though, comes tomorrow. Today, the Big Gamegot its wings yanked off its back. Stanford crushed Cal in a game thatlasted barely 10 minutes before Andrew Luck used his left arm to put anexclamation point on what his right arm did all day.You know. Physics.
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