Rose Bowl festivities are over for Cardinal players, coaches

With the Rose Bowl looming on Wednesday, Stanford coach David Shaw has been fielding some of the same questions all week and Monday's final pregame press conference was no different.

At this point, both Pac-12 champion Stanford (11-2) and Big 10 champion Michigan State (12-1) are ready for the 2:10 p.m. scheduled kickoff in Pasadena on New Year's Day.

"We're honing down our preparation," Shaw said. "Our last good, physical practice today and then start to get ourselves ready to play."

Shaw stayed with his stock replies when it came to discussing any advantage the Cardinal may have of repeating in the Rose Bowl or if he's interested in pursuing an NFL coaching position.

"The only real advantage, if there is one, is during the week," Shaw said. "Our guys understand the schedule and have been through the schedule and the things that go along with being here at the Rose Bowl. Michigan State has played in big games. They've been on that stage."

The fourth-ranked Spartans beat then No. 2 Ohio State to qualify for the Rose Bowl. Fifth-ranked Stanford downed then No. 2 Oregon to gain an edge toward the Pac-12 title game, something that came in handy when Utah and USC upset the Cardinal and Arizona handed the Ducks a second conference loss.

Stanford played in six games against ranked opponents, winning all six. Michigan State played in three games against ranked opponents, winning twice and losing to Notre Dame.

Shaw said he has not been contacted by anyone on the day several NFL coaches were fired. He remains "flattered" and thinks it's "cool" that his name keeps coming up.

Shaw praised defensive coordinator Derek Mason for being able to take over from Vic Fangio, who went to the 49ers, and not missing a beat.

"That's really the biggest thing," Shaw said. "He learned a lot from Vic as well as a lot of guys that he's been with throughout his career. The sign of any good coach is to have a philosophy and a general scheme that you believe in and be able to fit the scheme around the players you have and their talents. Derek has done a phenomenal job."

Shaw also explained the genesis of the jumbo offensive line sets, with a special shout out to James McGillicuddy, who endeared himself to the team and coaching staff with his willingness to perform any number of tasks.

McGillicuddy, who earned a Master's degree in 2011, nearly won the starting center position as a sixth-year senior. He did appear in all 13 games his final year and played tight end, fullback, halfback, tackle and guard.

Stanford grad Andrew Luck, now a record-setting quarterback with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, once said he was afraid to throw McGillicuddy the ball.

"I threw it to him once in practice and he dropped it," Luck said at the time. "In front of everybody."

Shaw said McGillicuddy (6-3, 307) played the tight end position, as a blocker only, as well as anyone.

"We needed a guy with that kind of stature," Shaw said. "We kind of found lightning in a bottle and it was just for a few plays. Mike Bloomgren (offensive coordinator) found guys that have those specific talents in Kyle Murphy (6-7, 295) and Josh Garnett (6-5, 316), and they have been phenomenal being able to be those tight ends. The trickle down effect is here are guys who are getting a lot of plays every game, so when it's time for them to start, you don't worry about them."

Garnett started one game this season when consensus All-America guard had to return to his home in Georgia due to a family situation.

"We're playing eight offensive linemen a game," Shaw said. "To be honest, it helps us recruit too."

Extra points: Shaw said Jordan Williamson is set to start the Rose Bowl as Stanford's kicker, though Conrad Ukropina will also be ready. Williamson has been dealing with foot problems all year . . . Stanford's honorary captains for the game are Helen and Peter Bing, who have plunged millions into the school. "They've done so much for Stanford," Shaw said. Former Stanford All-America and USA national women's soccer star Julie Foudy will also act as an honorary captain. "A great Stanford person and great motivational speaker," Shaw said.


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