Sports

Stanford's Whitfield hopes to shut down former schoolmate

 

Stanford senior free safety Kodi Whitfield knew all about UCLA freshman quarterback Josh Rosen when both were attending the same middle school at Chadwick. Since high school, they've been on opposite sides of the field.

Whitfield will be in the defensive secondary on Thursday night, helping to stop Rosen and the Bruins' dangerous offensive attack when No. 15 Cardinal (4-1, 3-0 Pac-12) and No. 18 UCLA (4-1, 1-1) meet for a 7:30 p.m. Pac-12 Conference showdown to be televised by ESPN.

"He's always been the athletic one," Whitfield said. "He played a ton of sports."

Rosen, the nation's top-ranked quarterback recruit out of high school, was a nationally ranked junior tennis star before an injury set him on the football path.

"He's great," Whitfield said. "He's playing well."

Whitfield was classmates with Rosen's older sister, Beatrice, who is a nationally-ranked tennis player and helped Emory College win the NCAA Division III title in 2014.

Whitfield was also in an offensive lineman mode at the time (his father Bob was an All-America offensive lineman for Stanford) and rarely interacted with Rosen, who has turned out to be a good fit with the Bruins.

"He gets the ball out quick. He does a good job of getting rid of the football," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "They don't hold the ball long. The best way to get a sack is great coverage. The bottom line is we need to slow them down, make them punt; maybe get a turnover or two."

The Cardinal, the lone unbeaten in the Pac-12's North Division, owns a seven-game winning streak over UCLA, including the last four at Stanford Stadium.

The Bruins are in third place in the South Division and could use a win to boost their title hopes. A Stanford victory would keep the Cardinal in the driver's seat.

"This is the greatest conference in college football from top to bottom," Whitfield said. "It's a great opportunity to continually assert our dominance in the conference."

Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan may not be 100 percent, but he'll be ready to go. Palo Alto grad Kevin Anderson will miss his third straight game with an unspecified injury.

"He's making strides and it's looking like he's coming back," Shaw said. "We're letting his body calm down. It should be in the next couple of weeks."

Hogan completed nearly 90 percent of his passes in his last game and now ranks second in the conference in passing efficiency at 169.8. USC's Cody Kessler leads at 179.2.

The Cardinal is one of just three teams, with California and Utah, that is undefeated at home. In conference games, the road team is 10-5. UCLA is 5-0 following a bye week under coach Jim Mora. Stanford is 5-0 against the Bruins under Shaw.

Sophomore running back Christian McCaffrey enters the week ranked second in the FBS with 229.8 all-purpose yards per game and ranks third in the Pac-12 with 120.2 rushing yards. UCLA's Paul Perkins is fourth at 115.4.

"For some reason his name is not brought up when you talk about the best backs in the nation, or in our conference," Shaw said of Perkins. "You can't find anything he can't do. He's quick, shifty, has good body control and gets more yards than the play is blocked for."

The Stanford defense will have another challenge as the Bruins average 34.8 points and 454 yards a game. The Cardinal held Arizona, the conference's top scoring team, to 17 points on Oct. 3. Stanford ranks second in total defense.

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