Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - September 27, 2013

Garnett goes from a 'jumbo' to a starter

Sophomore offensive guard gets his chance against a dangerous WSU team on Saturday

by Rick Eymer

Sophomore offensive guard Joshua Garnett was happy being part of the elephant and jumbo packages for the Stanford football team. On Saturday, under difficult circumstances, Garnett will take over at left guard for senior David Yankey when the fifth-ranked Cardinal travels to Seattle to take on Washington State.

Garnett (6-5, 316) is no stranger to the starting lineup. He made his first career against the Cougars last year, becoming the first true freshman to start on the offensive line in over a decade.

He'll wear the more conventional number '51' uniform this weekend after being issued '98,' which would make him eligible in certain situations. He also played at fullback last year.

Yankey, who returned home to Roswell, Ga., due to a family matter, has been a great influence on Garnett, who grew up in Puyallup, a Washington town near Tacoma.

"He has taken pulling to the next level," Garnett said. "I don't know anyone who can do what he does in terms of force, staying low, getting leverage and flexibility."

His own experience pulling has been aided by his participation in the special, usually short-yard, situations.

"The 'Jumbo' package has helped me tremendously blocking cornerbacks and linebackers," he said. "It's helped me pulling wise by getting out into space and hitting smaller guys instead of big, 300-pound linemen."

Garnett has an important role this week, with fellow sophomore lineman Andrus Peat (6-7, 312) at left tackle. Yankey was a consensus All-American last year and is a team captain.

"The things Andrus can do is like playing basketball on the cornerbacks on screens," Garnett said. "There's a lot of attention given to the tackle and he can run."

Garnett has no illusions of ever catching a pass or running the ball though.

"I don't think they they want me with the ball," he said humorously. "I wouldn't catch it. It has to be Kyle (Murphy, a 6-7, 295 backup at left tackle)."

Stanford (1-0, 3-0) is coming off a 42-28 victory over Arizona State in its Pac-12 Conference opener. The Cardinal will be playing a much-improved Cougars (1-0, 3-1) squad that already owns a victory over a ranked opponent. Washington State held off USC, 10-7, three weeks ago and has allowed its opponents a combined 17 points over the past three weeks following a 31-24 loss to Auburn.

The Cougars won three straight for the first time since 2006, and are looking for their first 4-1 start since 2003 and their first win over Stanford since 2007.

"They have a good scheme and there's a lot to prepare for," Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan said. "They threw a lot at you. We'll have to take our shots when right looks present themselves."

Washington State took its lumps last year, with 20 players making their first career start, including five freshmen. This year, nine freshmen have appeared for the first time through four games.

The Cougars finished 3-9 last year, which included a seven-game losing streak. It also included a victory over Washington in the final week of the season. The Huskies handed Stanford one of its two defeats last season.

Washington State also played Stanford tough, losing 24-17. The Cardinal set school records for sacks (10) and tackles for a loss (15) in that contest.

"With (WSU coach) Mike Leach, you're talking defense," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "They have a sound defense. Guys are where they are supposed to be. Their guys can run, are aggressive and physical. Their safeties are active and tough."

Offensively, Washington State likes to throw the ball, a lot. The Cougars are averaging 48.5 attempts per contest and are completing their passes at a 65.5 percent rate.

"Their offense is clicking and they have guys with a great understanding of it," Shaw said. "Their quarterback is more experienced and their wide receivers are consistent."

Stanford defensive end Ben Gardner doesn't expect to get 10 sacks this year.

"It might be frustrating because their quarterback gets rid of it so quickly," he said. "We may have to show new looks. I love to get up the field and rush the passer."

Gardner has no worries about containing the Cougars though.

"We're well-suited to stopping them," Gardner said. "I think we can stop the power run game too. Our front seven is a little more polished. The sky is the limit for us."

Stanford leads the all-time series with Washington State, 37-25-1, and has won the past five meetings.

NOTES: Stanford safety Ed Reynolds will sit out the first half against Washington State, a result of the new spearing rule. Reynolds was ejected from Saturday's 42-28 victory over Arizona State after lowering his head and plowing into Sun Devils' quarterback Taylor Kelly. "I never saw him lower his head on anybody before," Shaw said. It's the era we live in. We can't do that and the punishment is just. It is what is necessary. He didn't argue with it. He feels remorse. He's disappointed that he's left his teammates high and dry." Senior Devon Carrington will play free safety the first half . . . Shaw hopes to have senior cornerback Barry Browning back for the game. He missed the win over ASU with an injury. "He's the key for us to keep guys fresh," Shaw said. . . . Sophomore linebacker Blake Martinez and senior defensive lineman Henry Anderson will not be available. Senior fullback Ryan Hewitt has made strides according to Shaw and is getting better . . . No one is looking forward to the trip more than Stanford assistant coach Tavita Pritchard, who is the nephew of former Washington State quarterback Jack Thompson and who has a brother, Tana, on the Cougars' roster.

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