Stanford will need to find a way to put points on the board if it intends to extend its Big Game winning streak to nine in a row.
"I have the utmost respect for Justin Wilcox as a defensive coordinator and defensive mind,'' Stanford coach David Shaw said. "They take a lot of pride in what they do. They play with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. They play fast and physical and fly around, on attack at all times, keeping offenses on their heels.''
Patrick Laird has rushed for 803 yards to pace the Cal offense.
"Guys like him, you can see their heart,'' Shaw said of Laird. "He does everything 100 percent. Good vision and balance, he breaks tackles. A lot of things in this game come down to will power.''
Stanford has played higher profile games from a national standpoint when it has been ranked higher and matched up against other top-ranked teams. But no game is more important to the Cardinal than the Big Game.
"This game for me is in a different category,'' Shaw said. "Something about holding that axe after that game. Any time you win the Big Game it's extremely satisfying. It's going to be fun and exciting. Hopefully score at least one more point than they do and bring the axe back to Stanford.''
This has been a transitional season for the Stanford offense, moving from a ground to air orientation. In the win over Oregon State sophomore tight end Colby Parkinson caught four touchdown passes.
"He has such great ball skills,'' Shaw said of the 6-foot-7, 242-pound Parkinson. "He should be up over 250 by next year and be where Kaden (Smith) is as one of the best tight ends in America. He's a volleyball player who can jump and get his feet into position. Playing in the slot is second nature to him.''
Yes, the latest in the Stanford tight end assembly line. Five tight ends from Stanford are currently on NFL rosters.
"In the red zone Kaden got double coverage and Colby got single,'' Shaw said. "So the ball went to Colby.''
Parkinson said he had his sights set on going to Stanford from elementary school on.
"I committed 12 hours after I got offered as a junior,'' he said. "To have deep football conversations with my teammates and have deep intellectual conversations is really special.''
He became the third player in Stanford history to have four touchdown catches in a game.
"It's a testament to how hard K.J. and I worked in the off-season,'' Parkinson said.
He was informed by Shaw that he would not redshirt right before the trip to Australia that began the 2017 season. The first pass he caught in that game against Rice went for a touchdown. He also caught a second TD pass in that game.
"I got humbled pretty fast after that,'' Parkinson said.
Now he gets a chance to help Stanford keep its Big Game winning streak going.
"This is a big game in the sense that we're both playing well,'' Parkinson said. "We are pretty evenly matched. They always give us their best shot. We'll bring it the same as we do to every game, but maybe a little extra.''
INJURY UPDATES: Offensive linemen Nate Herbig and Drew Dalman are out, so is outside linebacker Casey Toohill. Wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside has got a chance to play, according to Shaw, who also said he should know by Friday if kicker Jet Tomer will be available. Bryce Love is ''80 to 90 percent.'' Outside backer Joey Alfieri has returned to practice. Wide receiver Connor Wedington has one more game he can play without using up a year of eligibility. Shaw said Wedington would be used when needed, this week against Cal, against UCLA, or in the bowl game. Quarterback Davis Mills is getting close to returning from a knee injury. Shaw is hoping he will be ready for the team's bowl game.
This story contains 770 words.
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