Sans Skov, Stanford out to stop UCLA

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Sans Skov, Stanford out to stop UCLA

STANFORD (AP) -- Stanford leads the nation in rushing defense, but maintaining that level of play could be difficult without star linebacker Shayne Skov.

The sixth-ranked Cardinal will be back in action Saturday night for the first time since losing Skov as they host UCLA in search of their 12th straight victory.

Skov is out for the season with a knee injury suffered in the second quarter of a 37-10 victory at Arizona on Sept. 17. Wildcats receiver Juron Criner was tackled and knocked into Skov's leg on the play.

The junior led Stanford (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12) with 84 tackles last season to go with 7 12 sacks and was considered a potential high NFL draft pick.

"He's the emotional leader of the defense. You can't replace that," safety Michael Thomas said.

The loss of Skov is the first major challenge in front of first-year coach David Shaw, whose defense has allowed an average of 36.0 rushing yards through three games.

"It's a big loss for our football team, but we have great leadership on defense from players such as Michael Thomas, Delano Howell and Chase Thomas," Shaw said. "We've also recruited very well recently and now it is time for guys to step up."

Stanford should be tested Saturday since UCLA (2-2, 1-0) ranks second in the conference with 214.0 yards per game on the ground. The Bruins are the only school with two rushers in the Pac-12's top 10, with Johnathan Franklin averaging 75.8 yards and Derrick Coleman 74.8.

Any defensive shortcomings can be partially alleviated by Heisman Trophy favorite Andrew Luck and an offense that has produced an average of 481.3 yards. Luck has eight touchdowns, one interception and 786 yards passing.

The Cardinal lost five straight meetings to the Bruins before Luck guided them to victories in his first two seasons. He has not needed to throw for big yardage in either contest, completing 11 of 24 passes for 151 yards and two scores in last year's 35-0 rout.

Despite that lopsided score, Franklin rushed for 73 yards on 11 carries for UCLA and has a 5.2 career yards-per-carry average in two games against the Cardinal.

UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said that Luck is "unquestionably the best quarterback in the country."

Neuheisel was encouraged by his team's 27-19 road win at Oregon State in its Pac-12 opener last Saturday. Coleman rushed for 100 yards, and three other Bruins scored touchdowns on the ground.

"I know there are people who will say it wasn't this and wasn't that, but ultimately when you come away with a victory, you just feel like more is possible," Neuheisel added. "Our guys are energized. They're looking forward to this week of practice. There will be a bounce in their step. It doesn't mean any extra points on Saturday, but you can feel good things are on the horizon."

Neuheisel worked alongside Shaw in 2005 with the Baltimore Ravens, and recruited against Shaw's father, Willie, from 1989-91 while Neuheisel was a young UCLA assistant and Willie Shaw was Stanford's defensive coordinator.

"I battled his father years ago when I first broke into this business, and now I'm battling his son," Neuheisel said. "David has earned this opportunity, and I'm certainly pulling for him ... but not this week."

The Bruins have split their last eight games against top 10 opponents, including a stunning upset of then-No. 7 Texas on the road last year.

A hidden matchup to watch in this game could take place in special teams. Stanford's Drew Terrell is third in the Pac-12 in punt return average at 15.7 yards, while UCLA is yielding a conference-worst 19.2 yards per punt return.

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

It was Jim Harbaugh's first season as head coach of the 49ers.

The 4-1 49ers were in Detroit and scored 10 points in the final 5:29 to beat the Lions 25-19.

An excited Harbaugh got a little too agressive during his postgame handshake with Lions coach Jim Schwartz. The two had words for each other and had to be separated.

Six years later, Harbaugh took the blame for what happened and said that he and Schwartz have patched things up.

"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake. I've since changed that. Not doing that anymore. Can't blame him. I went in too hard. And you respect him for taking exception. We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as loser. You just, 'Hey, nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong," Harbaugh said Tuesday on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast.

Harbaugh sounds like he's learned his lesson from that incident with Schwartz.

"The postgame handshake isn't the place for anything. If you're bitter, than change the I to an E. Don't get bitter, get better. Nothing's really changing at the postgame handshake. Just professionally shake hands and go on your way," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh moved on from the 49ers to coach the Michigan Wolverines. Schwartz coached the Lions through the 2013 season and currently serves as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles.

 

Ty Lue: Celtics 'harder to defend' than Warriors

Ty Lue: Celtics 'harder to defend' than Warriors

The Warriors possess four 2017 All-Stars, three 2017 All-NBA team members and had the highest-scoring offense during the offense. They are 12-0 this postseason and have won those 12 games by an average of 16.3 points.

The Celtics lost All-NBA point guard Isaiah Thomas for the rest of the postseason and don't have another All-Star on the roster.

But for Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, it sounds like he has an easier time scheming to defend the Warriors.

"The stuff (the Celtics are) running, it's harder to defend than Golden State's (offense) for me, as far as the actions and all the running around and all the guys who are making all the plays, so it's a totally different thing. Like, they hit the post, Golden State runs splits and all that stuff but these guys are running all kinds of (stuff). And Brad's (Stevens) got them moving and cutting and playing with pace and everybody is a threat," Lue said Wednesday, according to Cleveland.com.

The Cavs rallied to beat the Celtics in Game 4 on Tuesday night to take a 3-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Despite the commanding series lead, Lue isn't looking ahead of a potential NBA Finals matchup with the Warriors.

"You can't. As much as you want to, it's not over," Lue told reporters.

The Cavs have a chance to wrap up the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday when they face the Celtics in Boston.

The NBA Finals begin June 1 in Oakland.