Sports

Garnett helps unify Stanford's offensive line, open lanes

 

Senior left guard Josh Garnett is on schedule to graduate in the spring with a degree in human biology, something he hopes will lead him into a medical career down the line. But, he's still got plenty of football left in him.

Garnett and his No. 16 Stanford teammates get a break this week. The Cardinal (4-1 overall, 3-0 Pac-12) gets 12 days to prepare for visiting No. 20 UCLA. The game will be played Thursday, Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. and be televised on ESPN.

"I appreciate the bye week," said Garnett, who still has a full slate of classes to attend. "I can sit back and relax a little bit."

The Cardinal's loss was at No. 13 Northwestern on opening weekend.

Once he's through with football, Garnett envisions himself working in an emergency room. An avid viewer of the television series 'Untold Stories of the E.R.,' he likens the atmosphere to football.

"I like the rush," he said. "Just like football you all have to work together in a high-paced environment and yet you have to be calm and relaxed."

Garnett was named Stanford's offensive Player of the Game for his efforts in helping the Cardinal beat Arizona, 55-17, on Saturday.

Garnett (6-5, 321) lines up next to tackle Kyle Murphy (6-7, 301), giving the Cardinal a movable feast of rushing and passing options.

The two preseason All-Americans have allowed Stanford to rush for an average of 209.8 yards and pass for an average of 242.8 yards a game.

"They both have length and athleticism," Cardinal coach David Shaw said. "They are both prototypes for the positions. Josh is just so big, physical and athletic. He can get out on the screens and hunt down the smaller guys and as the puller, he does a great job on the linebacker."

Garnett arrived at Stanford the year after All-America David DeCastro gave up his final year of eligibility to turn pro. DeCastro became a first-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers and he's currently in his fourth year with them.

Garnett, who started four games in 2013, became the first true freshman to start on Stanford's offensive line since 2000.

Shaw was asked to compare the two players.

"David is in rarefied air," Shaw said. "Let's give Josh this season at least. The one thing is Josh is getting to play consistently at a high level. He has a high ceiling and he's not there yet."

Garnett's thoughts?

"He's one of the greats," Garnett said of DeCastro. "If I can be close to him, I'd be happy."

Shaw said the bye week came at a good time. The defensive line is beat up and quarterback Kevin Hogan is still bothered by an ankle sprain suffered three weeks ago against USC.

Defensive end Nate Lohn and outside linebacker Kevin Anderson both missed last Saturday's victory over Arizona and Anderson remains questionable for the Bruins.

"I anticipate Kevin Hogan being closer to 100 percent," Shaw said. "We'll take it easy with him this week. He'll continue to rehab and rest. I'm looking forward to him having a full week of practice."

Palo Alto grad Keller Chryst channeled former Stanford great Andrew Luck when he blocked two people, one he flattened, on a play specifically designed for him in the win over Arizona.

It's only fitting, since Chryst appears to be heir apparent when Hogan leaves after this season.

In a sense, Saturday night was Chryst's coming out party. Although he played against Oregon State, completing a pass for 20 yards, he made an impact against the Wildcats.

The block party showed Chryst's physical toughness and willingness to get dirty. It would have made Luck proud. Luck, on a running play, once knocked down a California linebacker on his way to a touchdown and never shied away from contact.

"He's a tough kid and a great athlete," Shaw said. "He gets a lot more respect in the locker room. We put the play in that week and he was excited about it."

His 33-yard touchdown run that was called back because of a penalty, was also Luck and Hogan-like. The six-yard touchdown pass to Rollins Stallworth was a thing of beauty.

"Rollins has a knack for that," Shaw said. "The ball gives him a chance to make the play. It was perfect. The play was a run-pass option. They put nine men in the box and Keller saw that and checked to the pass play."

Chryst (6-5, 233) flattened Arizona cornerback Cam Denson (5-11, 168).

"I talked to him before the game," Garnett said. "He told me 'I don't want to miss.' I told him to just go right through him, don't hesitate. It was good to see. He can hang out with us and do it all the time. It was funny."

Cardinal linebacker Blake Martinez was standing next to Paly grad Peter Hansen, Stanford's inside linebackers coach, as the play developed.

"We thought that was the funniest thing ever, slash, we felt bad for that guy," Martinez said. "I told coach Hansen if that ever happened to me I would walk out of the stadium and never come back."

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