The Cardinal's unsung hero

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The Cardinal's unsung hero

Steve Berman
CSNBayArea.com

Ask a college football fan about Stanford, and if they even mention the defense you might hear names like Chase Thomas or the injured Shayne Skov. In the likelier event that the offense receives the focus, you'd probably hear names like Stepfan Taylor, Coby Fleener and, of course, Heisman Trophy favorite Andrew Luck. But if one takes a closer look at the 2011 Cardinal offense, a group that puts up nearly 50 points per game, it'd be a drastic mistake to overlook Stanford's offensive line. While the entire group is as big, strong and effective as any unit in college football, the line's leader is undoubtedly Jonathan "Moose" Martin.Stanford's left tackle might not be as well known among casual fans, but NFL scouts know all about Moose. According to Walter Football's 2012 NFL Mock Draft, Martin is currently slated to be chosen at No. 12 overall. Scott Wright's Draft Countdown has Martin going off the board at No. 10. FF Toolbox has Martin as a top-5 selection.With all the hype surrounding the supremely talented Luck, one could argue that Martin might be the safest bet on Stanford's entire roster to be an NFL starter for 10 years.After Martin made first team All-Pac-10 last year, he was a first team Playboy preseason All-America pick before the 2011 season. To say he's lived up to that billing would be an understatement. The 6-6, 304-pound Martin has protected Luck's blind side and opened up holes for Taylor and the rest of Stanford's deep running back corps to such a degree that he was recently named one of four finalists for the Lombardi Award, annually given to the nation's top lineman or linebacker. Thanks to Martin and the rest of Stanford's huge, powerful offensive line, Luck has completed over 70 of his passes this season and has only been sacked four times in nine games. Martin like most offensive linemen prefers run blocking to pass protection, and Cardinal runners average 5.7 yards per carry, 7th in the nation (Oregon leads the country at 7.0 yards per rush, incidentally). Beyond statistics, Martin is the leader of a group that sets the tone for Stanford. The Cardinal, unlike most that spread the field and live outside the hash marks, mixes complicated schemes (Stanford by all accounts makes their offensive players memorize more plays than any other team in the country) with old-school physicality.Martin, who originally committed to UCLA before the chance to play on The Farm changed his mind, is ranked so highly among potential pro prospects in large part due to his athleticism. His long arms and flexibility, paired with outstanding technique and intelligence (several members of Martin's family have attended Harvard) have made him invaluable to Luck and Stanford coach David Shaw.When Shaw moved up from offensive coordinator after Jim Harbaugh left to coach the San Francisco 49ers, it appeared Stanford would have a great chance at a successful season, especially with Luck returning. However, Martin was one of only two returning offensive linemen along with right guard David DeCastro, who in his own right is projected to be taken low in the first round or in the early second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. The way that Martin and DeCastro have anchored Stanford's o-line and integrated new starters David Yankey, Sam Schwartzstein and Cameron Fleming has been invaluable to the No. 4 team in the BCS standings.Many believe Luck's chances to clinch the Heisman Trophy ride largely on how he does in Saturday's much-anticipated matchup against Oregon. If that indeed comes to pass, a large reason why will surely be the way Martin protects Luck's blindside when he drops back to do so.

Steve Berman is the Bay Area Sports Guy and a contributor to CSNBayArea.com. Check out his blog and follow him on Twitter @BASportsGuy

Landale leads with double-double in Saint Mary's dominant win

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USATSI

Landale leads with double-double in Saint Mary's dominant win

BOX SCORE

MALIBU -- Jock Landale had 23 points and 14 rebounds to lead No. 20 Saint Mary's to a 78-49 victory over Pepperdine on Thursday night.

The Gaels (25-3, 15-2 West Coast) continued to roll in winning 10 of their last 11 games. Their only loss in that stretch was to No. 1 Gonzaga.

Lamond Murray Jr. had 17 points for Pepperdine (9-20, 5-12), which lost its third consecutive game.

A power outage caused the lights to go out with 18:41 left in the second half. Pepperdine official Roger Horne said power surges throughout campus caused the 15-minute delay. Players stayed loose by shooting in the dark.

The delay didn't slow down Saint Mary's, which led 41-21 before the lights went out. Landale, the junior center from Australia, had an empathic dunk for the first basket after play resumed and the Gaels cruised from there.

BIG PICTURE:

Saint Mary's did what it needed to do in recording another road victory. The Gaels and Landale continued to flex their usual muscles as they dominated in the paint and outrebounded the Waves 47-29.

Pepperdine has weathered the storm of an injury-plagued season and played with its 10th lineup of the season. Chris Reyes (heel) was ruled out for the season on Thursday, but the Waves still suited up nine players.

UP NEXT:

Saint Mary's returns home to play its regular-season finale against Santa Clara on Saturday, the final tuneup before the WCC Tournament. The Gaels won the last matchup, 72-59.

Pepperdine plays its last home game on Saturday against San Francisco. It's the final game at Firestone Fieldhouse for guard Jeremy Major, who is scheduled to make his 122nd career start, which would become most in school history.

Four players score in double figures, Stanford takes down Oregon State

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AP

Four players score in double figures, Stanford takes down Oregon State

BOX SCORE

STANFORD -- Even though Stanford has been buried in the lower half of the Pac-12 standings all season, Reid Travis isn't so sure his team is an underdog against No. 6 Oregon.

That might be a stretch considering the Ducks are making a run at the conference title but that didn't seem to matter to Travis.

"The way we're playing now is great for this time of year," Travis said following Stanford's 79-66 win over Oregon State on Wednesday. "I feel like we're really taking off. Even though our record doesn't reflect it I really do feel that we're one of the top teams so take that as you want to."

Travis had 17 points and eight rebounds to lead four players in double figures. Marcus Allen also scored 17, Dorian Pickens added 15 and Robert Cartwright had 10 as the Cardinal beat the Beavers for the 21st time in the last 23 games between the two teams at Maples Pavilion.

Stanford (14-13, 6-9 Pac-12) led by as many as 25 but had to hold on after Oregon State (5-24, 1-15) pulled within 74-63 with 3:28 left on JaQuori McLaughlin's 3-pointer.

Allen and Pickens scored back-to-back buckets for Stanford, and after Stephen Thompson's putback for Oregon State, Pickens made a 3-pointer.

"We're pointing in the right direction on both ends of the floor," Allen said. "Guys are getting good looks . and on defense we're more active. Hopefully that continues."

Drew Eubanks had 21 points and 14 rebounds for Oregon State. Gligorije Rakocevic added a season-high 16 points for the Beavers, who couldn't follow up after beating Utah last week for their first conference win of the season.

Stanford built a quick double-digit lead despite a strong start by Rakocevic. The 6-foot-11-foot center, averaging 3.8 points going into the game, matched his season high in the first half while scoring 12 points on 6 of 8 shooting.

The Cardinal countered with a more balanced attack after adjusting to the Beavers' zone defense. Travis, Allen, Cartwright and Pickens combined for 32 points in the first half to help Stanford take a 43-33 lead.

The Cardinal also controlled the boards while outscoring the Beavers 46-22 in the paint.

"For us to be at our best we're going to score from the free throw line, like we did in the Cal game, or score around the basket," Stanford coach Jerod Haase said. "Smash-mouth is a football term but if it was a basketball term I think that would be a good word for us."

Travis got Stanford going again after halftime and helped push the Cardinal lead to 69-44.

Eubanks nearly brought Oregon State back. He scored 17 points in the second half, including 13 of the Beavers' first 20.

BIG PICTURE

Oregon State: The Beavers hopes of winning back-to-back games for the first time since beating Prairie View A&M and Texas-San Antonio to open the season didn't last long. They didn't play poorly - Oregon State shot close to 47 percent most of the night - but couldn't match Stanford's run coming out of halftime and never recovered.

Stanford: The win pushed the Cardinal into a tie for seventh place in the Pac-12, still nowhere near enough to get a first-round bye in the conference tournament. The outcome was never in doubt, but Haase was concerned about Stanford's mental approach.

DOUBLE TECHS

Eubanks and Travis were both hit with technical fouls after a heated exchange in the second half. Although no punches were thrown, Eubanks suffered a bloody nose during the incident and had to be treated near the Beavers' bench.

"We're trying to go at each other as hard as possible so of course there's different plays where a lot of contact happens," Travis said. "I like that. That's how competitors act and we just moved on from it. Unfortunately they called a technical on both of us. I'd like to see us play on in that sense."

UP NEXT

Oregon State: Plays at California on Friday night.

Stanford: Hosts No. 6 Oregon on Saturday in the final regular season home at Maples Pavilion this year. The Ducks beat the Cardinal 69-52 on Jan. 21.