Feature: Chris Lewis

Oct 23, 2001

Stanford, Calif. (AP) - Even the thought of making his first start of theseason against UCLA's imposing defense doesn't intimidate Chris Lewis.

After all, Lewis is a Stanford quarterback - but he's also a Stanfordstudent. Plenty of things are more fearsome than linebacker Robert Thomas andthe fourth-ranked Bruins, who come Saturday to Stanford Stadium.

'I've got to think about my midterm I have tonight,' Lewis said Tuesdaybefore heading off to bury his head in a calculus book.

Lewis describes himself as 'a happy-go-lucky, always-smiling type ofperson.' It's a disposition that has served him well the last two years asRandy Fasani - Stanford's senior starting quarterback and Lewis' road roommate- battled several knee injuries that forced Lewis to be ready at a moment'snotice.

Fasani was knocked out of Stanford's game at Oregon early in the secondquarter last Saturday with a sprained right knee. Lewis stepped in and led theCardinal (4-1, 3-1 Pac-10) to a shocking 49-42 victory, completing 12 of 26passes for 189 yards and two second-half TDs.

Though just a sophomore, Lewis already has plenty of experience underpressure. Last season, he was thrust into Stanford's game against then-No. 5Texas and rallied the Cardinal to a huge upset with three TD passes.

Later in the 2000 season, Fasani went out of Stanford's game againstSouthern California with another injury. Lewis stepped in during the finaldrive to lead the Cardinal to another victory, throwing the game-winning TDpass with no time on the clock.

'(At Oregon), it was almost the exact situation as last year: Randy goesdown in a huge game against a Top 5 team,' Lewis said. 'We were able to getout of there with the win, and now it's about getting the next one.'

Lewis led the Cardinal to victory even with a splitting headache and a voiceso hoarse he could barely be heard above the din at Autzen Stadium. Lewisgulped Advil on the sideline after every series, but stayed in the game.

Fasani will be out 4-to-6 weeks with his latest injury, coach TyroneWillingham said Tuesday. That means the Cardinal's hopes of continuing theirsurprisingly successful start rest on the relaxed shoulders of Lewis, who getshis fourth career start against the Bruins.

While Lewis has excelled in relief, he hasn't been successful as a starter.He started three games in Fasani's place last fall - against Arizona, NotreDame and Oregon State - and lost all three, throwing five interceptions in theprocess.

Although Willingham says there's not much he can do about Lewis' mentalpreparation for another start, he hopes Lewis can find the groove he had inOregon early against UCLA.

'Once Chris got into a rhythm, he was able to see some things better and bemore effective,' Willingham said. 'Chris is a year older now. He knows a lotmore. He sees a lot more. He's grown.'

Though he was considered one of the nation's most athletic quarterbacksduring his prep career at Long Beach Poly High School, where he set theCalifornia state record with 107 TD passes, Lewis is less mobile than Fasani.That's not necessarily a bad thing, as Fasani's recklessness is the primaryreason for his injury-plagued career.

'Being a backup behind Randy Fasani, you have to be ready on every singleplay,' Lewis said. 'I get so mad at him sometimes when he doesn't run out ofbounds, and he tries to run over linemen or spin away from a guy. Every play,basically, I'm warming up my arm or taking snaps.'

By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer

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