Andrew Luck

David Shaw should’ve let Andrew Luck close out Fiesta Bowl

So much has been made of Andrew Luck calling his own plays. If Luck was the one making every decision during the Fiesta Bowl, one has to figure he would’ve done things differently than David Shaw at the end of regulation.

Trusting a college kicker with a game-winning kick is always dicey, let alone a BCS bowl game — even if the game has no bearing on the National Championship. Then you have the case of Stanford’s Jordan Williamson. Williamson made 11 of his first 12 FG attempts this season, then pulled a muscle in his leg and missed three games. Since coming back for the Big Game, Williamson hasn’t seemed the same. He made a 35-yard field goal and missed a 33-yard attempt against Cal, then missed his only try against Notre Dame, a 49-yarder.

Williamson had over a month of time to heal between the win over the Irish and the Fiesta Bowl, but still missed his first attempt of the night against Oklahoma State, a 41-yarder. He made a 30-yard FG in the beginning of the fourth quarter, which was enough for Shaw to entrust him with a 35-yard try to clinch the game, even though Williamson had only made 2 of his previous 5 field goal tries.

Shaw will never forgive himself for that decision. Not with Luck leaving for the NFL, not after how well Luck dissected the Cowboys’ defense and how in control Luck looked of the entire game, including those final minutes of regulation.

Shaw will also never forgive himself because Williamson will never forgive himself. The world can’t second guess Stanford’s coach enough to get the memories of those three missed field goals out of Williamson’s brain.

Luck completed 27-of-31 passes to nine different receivers. He had only one poor throw, when he rolled out to his right early on and fired a pass that cornerback Justin Gilbert anticipated and picked off. Other than that INT and a botched handoff to Geoff Meinken, the Cowboys had no answer for Stanford’s offense. But when the Cardinal got to the Cowboys’ 19-yard-line with 52 seconds left and three timeouts, Shaw ran Stepfan Taylor — who had a tremendous game, with 197 total yards and 2 TD — up the middle for a couple yards and let the clock run down.

It’s almost as if Shaw thought, “If I let Andrew take a couple shots at the end zone he’ll score too quick, give Oklahoma State too much time and Blackmon will take it to the house again.” Or maybe Shaw’s seen too much of David Akers and Sebastian Janikowski. And Shaw’s play-calling stayed conservative in overtime, which burned him as a Taylor carry on 2nd-and-10 lost three yards two plays before Williamson missed yet another field goal attempt.

Shaw had the ultimate college quarterback. His team outplayed the Oklahoma State Cowboys the majority of the time that Justin Blackmon didn’t have the ball in his hands. His squad was playing in a game that receives much hype and a prime spot in ESPN’s schedule, but it’s still a game that exists in a BCS-created vacuum.

That’s the good thing for Stanford, and the bad. They’ll always be remembered as a great college team, even though they lost this National Championship Consolation Game, or whatever you want to call it. Luck completed his last nine passes. He was the calmest player on the field, and proved once and for all what we all knew from watching him grow in our backyard for three years: like Joe Montana, Luck is a quarterback who’s so great when he absolutely needs to be,  his so-called weaknesses are rendered meaningless.

Luck’s collegiate talent will probably go unmatched in the Bay Area for the next 50 years, and how he performed in the Fiesta Bowl was a perfect representation of the quarterback he was during his Stanford career. It’s just too bad Luck wasn’t given a chance to win his last game before starting his NFL adventure.

14 Comments
14 comments
Stan
Stan

Now that the dust has settled-I havent seen any columns ripping on Shaws horrid strategy..just bits and pieces.There,they point out the incredible blunder. And btw,I read where Shaw feigned surprise that there was a better way!..he said something-not a quote- about it being a no brainer to plat for a field goal. I'm not sure why Shaw gets a free pass..while a Hue has been scorched. And I might add-the exodus of Stanford players? I wonder if the loss pushed a few on the fence to stay..to go?

David Diestel
David Diestel

As a long time Stanford fan, David Shaw has taken our football program backwards! With the #1 player in college football, making a 4th quarter Heisman drive,Shaw calls it quits, takes the ball away from him and gives it to a freshman. A good game coach sticks with his best players in the clutch. Don't be surprised if some of our recruits decommit after watching this "No confidence" decision.

Stan
Stan

Ah,jeez it was worse that I thought. 58 seconds,on the 25 and with THREE timeouts. And Shaw had Andy just kill time for a shaking like a leaf, 19 year old. Just terrible coaching-on Shaw all the way.

soren
soren

Williamson choked big time but Shaw can't escape responsibility for not letting Luck go another play or two.

Brian
Brian

It seems like Shaw is not much of a motivator. He is too calm. After we missed the field goal, it felt that our team folded up our tents and went home. He didn't rally the troops in OT. Shaw needs to have to fire, and please show some emotion! None of these monotonous answers.

Stan
Stan

THIS was why-when on other boards early this season I did not join in on the "David Shaw will be a success"..I said-he inherited a great team,the best QB in the country,but how do we know what kind of coach he is? I didnt say he was bad-but how could you say he would be good? THAT was terrible coaching. He took the ball out of the best QB in the country..and decided to go with a freshman who had already missed a couple? Thats what seperates the great coaches from the rest..they DO NOT make that mistake-EVER. Next year,Stanford is going to see losses pile up..and Shaw isn't up to the job is my feeling. Stanford hired him to make Luck happy it looks like, No more luck for Stanford.

Sean
Sean

I couldn't agree more! How can you allow the outcome of the game rest on a freshman kicker when you have college's greatest QB perhaps ever? BOTTOM LINE: Harbaugh wins this game. The Cardinal were marching all over OK State. 45 runs and 31 passes is inexcusable, I don't care if you're a running team or not.

True
True

^^^ Ironic that Inquisita began his post by mentioning "haterade" then immediately spewed a few gallons of the substance. That said...I didn't watch the postgame and haven't heard any of Shaw's explanations so I can only guess here but...It seemed that the Stanford defense was completely gassed. I assume that Shaw was thinking that if he gave OSU any time at all they'd run right down the field in short order. Hence the move to attempt to kick a FG with 0:08 left on the clock rather than taking a few shots at the end-zone. I don't agree with his tactical decision making at the end of the game, but I think I understand it.

InquisitaB
InquisitaB

The Haterade was flowing like water last night in my home. There's no joy like watching Stanford fans having to quietly walk out of a stadium where their team should've won the game. I can imagine them all sitting in the stands with their red sweaters tied around their necks asking each other, "Why aren't they letting Andrew throw the ball, Miffy?". "I don't know, Chet. Isn't he one of the best players in the nation?". Ah yes, Stanford fans, only Duck droppings smell like roses this morning. Yours unfortunately smells exactly like every one else's. Cal's, of course, may smell a little worse after their stinker in the Holiday Bowl.

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