Sports

Sherman has upper hand in USC-Stanford rivalry

Harbaugh asks Pac-10 for further interpretation on some plays against Oregon

By Rick Eymer

Palo Alto Online Sports

Richard Sherman grew up in a neighborhood where USC reigned supreme. He's been ridiculed endlessly growing up in Compton with an interest in Stanford. That is until the last three or four years.

"When Stanford played USC it was always 'How bad is the score going to be this year?' and 'You got no chance,' " Sherman said. "It's changed a little bit."

The 16th-ranked Cardinal (1-1, 4-1) plays host to the unranked Trojans (1-1, 4-1) Saturday at 5 p.m. in what could turn out to be another in a series of crucial games for Stanford.

The Cardinal has won two of the last three games between the team, both in the Los Angeles Coliseum, once on touchdown pass in the final minute, and last year's 55-21 blowout.

"My cousins were mad at me like I was the one responsible for USC losing last year," Sherman said. "They don't realize you want to go in and do whatever it takes to win a game. They thought maybe I shouldn't have played so well."

Sherman had a hand in both Stanford victories. In 2007, Sherman caught a clutch fourth down pass that gave the Cardinal a first and goal, setting up the winning touchdown pass from Tavita Pritchard to Mark Bradford.

Last year Sherman made a key interception that secured Stanford's victory, handing the Trojans their worst home loss since 1966.

The 2007 victory snapped a five-game losing streak to USC.

It wasn't nearly as bad for Texan Stepfan Taylor or Pennsylvania's Thomas Keiser. Taylor grew up among Texas and Oklahoma fans while Keiser was among a rabid pool of Pittsburgh or Penn State fans in western Pennsylvania.

"One of my best friends loved USC," Taylor said. "He tried to get me to go there but they never recruited me. He was the only person I knew who rooted for them."

Keiser said people are "intrigued by west coast schools," but don't really follow them. He'd never thought about Stanford until they came out to talk to him.

"I thought it would be a great place to visit and I went to their football camp," Keiser said. "I ended up liking it. I got a little nostalgic for home when I saw the overcast skies (Monday) but I can't really complain about California weather."

Woozy Owusu

Stanford receiver Chris Owusu got knocked around quite a bit in last Saturday's 52-31 loss to Oregon, but no hit was more frightening than the one which knocked him unconscious and gave him a mild concussion.

"He was the recipient of several hits to the head and I think the cumulative affect took its toll on him," Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He's been symptom-free since Monday and said he felt better on Sunday."

His status is unclear for Saturday's game against the Trojans. Harbaugh said he will let the medical staff determine if Owusu, who is listed as the No. 1 receiver on the current depth chart, will be cleared to play.

The helmet-to-helmet hit was sent, along with several other plays, to the Pac-10 office for further interpretation.

"I'm interested in protecting my players," Harbaugh said. "What I saw on tape was helmet-to-helmet, one of the most talked about issues in all of football, and in congress too. It's a point of emphasis. We need a further interpretation so we can coach the players."

Harbaugh's 'R & R'

Speaking of interpretations, Harbaugh has his own play on 'R&R.' It has nothing to do with rest and relaxation and he's added an extra 'R.'

Players are in the habit of putting the previous game behind them in a certain time frame to keep things clear for the next game.

"Refit, reorganize, reattack," Harbaugh said. "Anywhere from six to 24 hours and it's on to the next game."

Keiser said he had a difficult time getting the game out of his head for a while.

"It's one of those games that really hurts to lose," he said. "When I woke up the next morning I realized it was time to prepare for USC."

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