Humble Luck Keeps On Rolling
by Ryan Reiswig
Not often after a big college football game will you hear the winning coach quote a Hall of Fame baseball player, but after Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck's convincing performance against the University of Arizona Saturday night, head coach Jim Harbaugh did just so.
"He's the straw that stirs the drink," said Harbaugh, referencing baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson's famous words from an interview in 1977.
After yet another dominating performance by his quarterback, Harbaugh's choice of words couldn't make more sense.
Luck shredded one of the Pac-10's top defenses with 293 passing yards and two touchdowns as Stanford cruised to a 42-17 win over Arizona, thus solidifying him as one of the top college quarterbacks in the nation.
Luck had his team in control from the beginning of the game and never looked back. After Stanford received the game's opening kickoff, Luck engineered a six-play, 69-yard drive that was capped with a beautiful 45-yard touchdown pass to Chris Owusu that gave the Cardinal the lead for good.
At times Luck looked like a man amongst boys, particularly during their second quarter drive that saw the Cardinal enforce their will on a very good Arizona defense, driving 89 yards on 14 plays, resulting in a Stepfan Taylor two-yard touchdown run. Luck completed eight passes for 85 yards on that drive alone.
"He played a heck of a game, he played a tremendous game. Some of the throws he made, some really tight, tight areas, those are big-league type of throws," said Harbaugh, Stanford's fourth-year head coach. "It's very NFL-like the way he executes out there on the field."
Luck has a knack for finding all of his targets throughout the course of a game, as most great quarterbacks do. Nine Cardinal receivers caught passes against the Wildcats, with Owusu leading the way with nine catches and 165 receiving yards. Luck attributes this to the system, however, and not his talents for allowing him to distribute the ball so effectively.
"I think the coaching staff puts a lot of personnel groups out there, so there are a lot of guys coming off the sidelines," said Luck, whose name is regularly talked about in Heisman Trophy conversations. "That creates more opportunities for guys to get the ball and I think they (coaches) do a good job of having plays that force you to spread the ball around."
Talking to Luck, however, one gets the sense he could care less about the personal accomplishments he's piling up. Being mentioned regularly as a Heisman Trophy candidate and a potential NFL number one pick is the furthest thing from this quarterback's mind.
"I'm not the one making that decision, I'm not voting on the Heisman stuff," said Luck. "My philosophy towards it is, if I'm good enough and play well enough to win it, I win the trophy. If not, I won't."
His head coach is much less hesitant to heap praise and talk about his accomplishments.
"It's Peyton Manning-like," said Harbaugh. "He's remarkable."
If his coach is right and he continues to play Manning-esque, Luck just may be the next player to hoist the much coveted bronze trophy in December.