The back story: Coach Sark believes Stanford players were instructed by coaches to exaggerate injuries to slow down UW's fast-paced offense thereby giving Stanford's defense a rest. From the SportspressNW.com article:
“Their defensive-line coach (former UW assistant Randy Hart) was telling them to sit down. I guess that’s how we play here at Stanford, so we’ll have to prepare for that next time. At some point, we’ll get repaid for it. That never serves a purpose for us, and we’ll never do that.”The two "injured" parties, defensive end Ben Gardner and linebacker Shayne Skov emphatically denied faking injuries on Twitter (though Skov has since deleted his tweets):
Okay Shayne, we will "Grow up, n watch the replay." To the tape!
Now nobody wants to question whether a player is injured, but the replay shows what appears to be a standard dive from Gardner with his pride being the only thing hurt on the play. It appears Gardner is a little winded and starts to get up, but then realizes this is a good opportunity to stay down and give his defense a rest.
And lo and behold, look who's rearing to go after the TV timeout! Gardner sits out the rule-mandated one play due to his injury, and then jogs back out for the next play. And two plays later, Gardner helps stuff Sankey in the backfield for a 3-yard loss.
The next injury occurs on the 11th play of the same drive when Skov collides with a teammate and needs on-field assistance for an injured knee. Eventually, Skov is able to limp off of the field. But hey, two plays later, look who's back! Those wonder drugs on the Stanford sideline sure seem to be working!
It seemed like the only legitimate injury on this drive was the thumb on Keith Price's throwing hand. Between Gardner and Skov's injuries, it appears Skov has a better argument that he needed a moment to recover from what he might have initially thought was a more serious knee injury. Gardner doesn't have that excuse - it's pretty difficult to argue that he wasn't exaggerating his condition to slow down gameplay.
The additional rest certainly didn't hurt the Stanford defense as they were able to deflect and intercept Keith Price's pass on their own 5-yard-line in one of the biggest plays of the game (but obviously not the biggest...)
This is a dicey situation as no one likes to call out injured players for not actually being injured. But this will definitely become a bigger issue as more and more teams run fast-paced offenses. I was shocked when the play-by-play guys mentioned that the Stanford defense didn't even practice defending a hurry-up offense in the week before the game. Seriously? So the only strategy you practiced is lying on the ground to catch your breath?
UPDATE: Stanford coach David Shaw responds:
"We don't fake injuries. We never have. We never will. I don't care what (Washington coach Steve) Sarkisian thinks he saw. The only assistant coach I've ever known to order players to fake injuries coaches at Washington. We play by the rules and we do it with integrity. We've beaten Washington five of the last six times. When they beat us (last year), we congratulated Washington. We didn't talk about the officials. We took it."The bad blood is boiling! Here is another suspicious Stanford injury from three years ago:
Before we move on to the piss-colored elephant in the room, TheDawgGal has some great final words on the Stanford game:
As much as that heartbreaking 31-28 loss made me want to channel my inner Alpha Beta and trash the Tri-Lamb's Palo Alto campus, my head has finally cleared enough to try and breakdown the Saturday's game somewhat objectively.
For those of you who were quick enough with your television remote and able to switch over from ESPN to ESPN News in time for kickoff (heaven forbid any of those SEC fans miss the gripping end of that 59-26 LSU-Mississippi State blowout), you saw Ty Montgomery run the ball back for a 99 yard touchdown. This would be one of the main storylines of the night, poor special teams on the part of Washington. Montgomery would continue his spot on Devin Hester impression later in the third quarter by returning another kick for 68 yards, setting up Stanford's offensive for another score.
"Mommy, why are those two Atlanta Falcons kissing?"
But as TheDawgDude noted, the bigger issue was the officiating. If the Arizona State - Wisconsin game failed to convince anyone that the Pac-12 has the worse referees in college football, hopefully this game erased any doubt. Flags seemed to fly on every other play, and the Dawgs chalked up 10 total penalties for 89 yards.
Still, our boys kept fighting. In the second half they came out strong, with Keith Price marching down the field and connecting with Kevin Smith in less than a minute. A fake punt by Travis Koons lead to another score by Bishop Sankey.
Our defense, which had been amazing all night, even held the Trees scoreless after Price made his first mistake of the evening, a pass intercepted by A.J. Tarpley in the 4th quarter. Another UW touchdown catch by Jaydon Mickens, bringing the score to 31-28, had everyone thinking, "hey, we might just actually pull this off." All we needed was another score.
On the final drive of the game the Huskies made it to mid-field and Price failed to connect with Austin Seferian-Jenkins on 3rd and 10. Price than threw the ball to Kevin Smith, and it was initially ruled as a completion for a first down. Unfortunately the offense was unable to get a snap off before the refs called for a review. Now I've watched and rewatched this catch more than Oliver Stone has the Zapruder film, and I can't see anything definitive that would lead the to the call being overturned. However, the zebras must've had some super secret "Cardinal Cam" angle that allowed them to see the ball hit the ground, and they ruled the pass as incomplete. With the turnover on downs, all the Shrubs has to do was run down the clock.
You can clearly see the other gunman on the grassy knoll.
It goes without saying after a close game like this that many fans, players and coaches alike are wondering, "what if this had gone the other way?" We can all get pissed off with the officiating and the cheap ass flopping by the Stanford players, but the fact remains the Huskies had some critical missteps that you can't make against a highly ranked opponent. My hats off to the team, and even though I usually am not one for moral victories, I think the team has a lot to be proud of, and will now head into next week confident in the knowledge they can legitimately compete with the best in the nation *on the road*.
And to those of you that are still crying in your beer, buck up! We have an opportunity to erase all memory of this loss by beating Nike U. I have a hunch that Sark will have the team ready and that's we'll come home and win.
P.S. An update from TDD's Stanford preview: Tyrone Willingham has apparently tired of throwing clay pots and will be joining the college football playoff selection committee. WTF?
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