Hogan plans to enjoy the Rose Bowl experience this week

The Stanford football team already made its trip to Disneyland, so should the Cardinal win its second straight Rose Bowl, players will have to come up with a different answer to what they'll be doing next.

Not getting too far ahead of ourselves, most seniors will likely be getting ready for NFL draft day and the various combines and camps leading up to a possible professional career.

For now, the seniors, and every other Cardinal player, are looking ahead no further than a few days, when Stanford (11-2) and Michigan State (12-1) get together for the 100th Rose Bowl at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Pasadena.

The Spartans are moving ahead without senior middle linebacker Max Bullough, who was suspended for breaking unspecified team rules. The announcement was made on Christmas.

"Judging by the film, he looks like a coach out there," Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren said Friday. "He's making this check and that check. In terms of his performance, they've got other people who can step in and play football. There's no doubt about that."

Stanford experienced losing one of its key senior defensive players when defensive end Ben Gardner went down with an injury late in the season.

"It's a tough break any time you're not going to the bowl game with your team," Cardinal consensus All-America lineman David Yankey said. "They're a very good defense with a lot of experience and a lot of guys who know how to play in that system and do a very good job of it."

Stanford players don't expect the Spartans to change their defense because of the loss. The Cardinal won't be changing anything it does either.

"They're a great football team, and they don't do it with just one player or one middle linebacker," Bloomgren said. "They've got guys that are great contributors in special teams and situational football on defense. I imagine they are going to be able to plug somebody in and play football."

Hogan's Heroics

Quarterback Kevin Hogan led Stanford to victory in his first 10 starts, dating to last year. Having been through the Rose Bowl festivities last year may be helpful.

"Just having done it before, we know what to expect" Hogan said. "We're going to definitely enjoy all the festivities, everything that the Rose Bowl has to offer, but at the same time it's very much a business trip. We came down here for one reason, and that's for the game on January 1st. There's not many times that you get to play in a Rose Bowl, so we're going to enjoy it."

Bloomgren said Hogan is a natural leader and his success in managing the offense this year only strengthens the instinct to follow him.

"His presence in the huddle, when he came in the Colorado game last year," Bloomgren said. "His work ethic and everybody seeing him at the front of the huddle for a whole year now, I think he commands the huddle the way a quarterback should. It's really easy for us as coaches to trust him as our leader."

Hogan began his tenure as Stanford's quarterback when he assumed the reigns on the third offensive series of the game against the Buffaloes last year, in which he led the Cardinal on six consecutive scoring drives, five for touchdowns.

"Kevin has grown a lot as a leader from last year," Yankey said. "He came in and was playing a lot for us and just had that competitive fire within him. He went out and won a bunch of games. In the off season, you saw him develop as a leader for the offense and the team as a whole, and now you see him doing all the right things, taking more notes than anybody."

Roses for Gaffney

Stanford senior running back Tyler Gaffney attended his first Rose Bowl last year, though he was only a spectator after spending the year as a professional baseball prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.

This time around, he'll get a whole new perspective.

"You grow up watching the Rose Bowl, especially as a West Coast kid," Gaffney said. "This is the game you want to be in. I'm from San Diego, so I saw the Holiday Bowl, Poinsettia Bowl first hand. I had never been to the Rose Bowl until last year."

He was able to watch the game from the sidelines and experience a lot of the game's emotions and the victory glow. He'd like to share that again from his new point of view, instead of being on the outside looking in.

"I had never been and so it was almost something I couldn't imagine being at," Gaffney said. "Last year I was there as a fan watching these guys win a Rose Bowl championship, and this year it's almost a surreal moment where a year ago today I was just a fan, and now I'm in the game. This is all you can ask for."

Senior fullback Ryan Hewitt rooms with Gaffney on the road and almost feels like it's a reunion.

"It's great having a good friend back," Hewitt said. "On the field he's a stud. You like blocking for guys that make you look good, and he's one of those players. It's been a great experience and a good year, and I hope that I've been able to do a decent enough job where he's had some holes and made some big runs."

Extra points

Friday's practice was held under sunny skies on a Southern California day with a temperature of 83 degrees. Stanford went with helmets, shoulder pad shells and shorts In the evening, Stanford attended a comedy show at Hollywood Improv while other members of the travel party enjoyed dinner at the Petersen Automotive Museum "We're a competitive bunch, and we've been chomping at the bit to get back onto the field. Anytime you get the chance to spend some free time and have some fun, it's nice. But today we knocked a little bit of rust off and we're doing what we do best," said senior linebacker Jarek Lancaster The Cardinal practiced at the StubHub Center, a sports complex located on the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills.

— Palo Alto Online Sports


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