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September 08, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, September 08, 2004

A fresh A fresh (September 08, 2004)start for all

Season-opening win provides confidence for the Cardinal

by Rick Eymer

For veterans and rookies alike, Saturday's 43-3 season-opening victory over visiting San Jose State represented a new start. Sophomore quarterback Trent Edwards stepped back into his role as starter to plant the seeds in what the Stanford football team hopes is the foundation of future success.

Menlo-Atherton High grad T.C. Ostrander also discovered he could play at this level when he was given the quarterbacking reigns for an extended period in the fourth quarter in his collegiate debut.

"I felt pretty good," Ostrander said. "It's been a long time. I was a little nervous, but after the first hit it was just good to be playing football again."

Ostrander used his freshman year as a redshirt season as he acclimated himself to the Stanford experience.

Palo Alto High grad Timi Wusu also appreciated his opportunity to get back on the playing field. The free-safety-turned-strong-safety-turned-outside linebacker stepped on a football field in a competitive situation for the first time in a year.

"All I could do is give thanks after the game," Wusu said. "It's been so long since I've been playing."

Wusu sustained a knee injury in last year's victory over the Spartans that ended his season. He's a junior now and playing on special teams in addition to his spot as a reserve outside linebacker.

"For a time there I thought I might not ever play again," Wusu said. "Now I'm out there making plays."

Wusu recorded five tackles against the Spartans. That broad smile he flashed was proof enough he enjoyed his rebirth as a football player.

Ostrander's debut could have gone a little better, but he's not complaining. In his first series, he handed the ball off to freshman running back Ray Jones, threw an incomplete pass and was sacked for 11 yards.

His next series effectively put all his jitters to rest. He completed a 31-yard pass to Gerren Crochet, and a 38-yard pass to David Marrero that was called back because of a penalty.

He later led the Cardinal on an eight-play, 96-yard drive that resulted in the final touchdown. Not bad for a guy who was listed third on the depth chart.

"I figured I might get in if we were up by a big margin," Ostrander said. "It's been a long time."

Ostrander finished with 122 yards on 5-of-10 passing while Edwards was 14-of-22 for 187 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Menlo-Atherton grad Greg Camarillo, beginning his final season at Stanford, caught two passes for 27 yards.

Stanford faces a little tougher task this Saturday, when Brigham Young University visits for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Cougars knocked off Notre Dame, 20-17, on Saturday.

"It's going to be a good game this week," Cardinal receiver Evan Moore said. "We'll have to be ready."

Moore showed his was ready for his first start, catching four passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns. His first scoring catch was a thing of beauty. He grabbed a high toss from Edwards with one hand to complete a 22-yard pass.

Moore credited Stanford wide receivers coach Ken Margerum for his readiness to haul in the catch with one hand. Margerum was a star receiver for the Cardinal and served as head coach at Menlo College and an assistant at Cal before joining the Stanford coaching staff this season.

"We actually practice those one-handed catches," Moore said. "Coach Margerum has us doing it all the time."

Moore, a former center fielder in baseball, also said the touchdown was the result of a connection he made with Edwards during the offseason as he made an adjustment in his route and Edwards picked it up.

"He threw it up high so only one person had the opportunity to catch it," Moore said. "Trent knows that."

Edwards said it was just a matter of simple communication.

"I have so much confidence in all our wide receivers," Edwards said. "I don't think there are many defensive backs in our league who can cover them. Evan told me to put the ball up anywhere and he'd get it. He just said: 'give me the ball.' "

The victory over San Jose State, their fourth in a row, gives the Cardinal some momentum heading into Saturday's game against BYU. With its first four games at home, Stanford hopes to hit the grounding running toward its stated goal of reaching a bowl game.

"We have a motto that we're trying to chase perfection this season," Edwards said. "It wasn't there against San Jose State."

Edwards suffered minor injuries to both shoulders during the game and played conservatively in the second half, a 21-point outburst that led to Stanford's largest margin of victory since a 50-point win over Cornell in 1991.

"I was a little dinged up but I haven't been hit in seven months," he said. "When I came out for the second half my shoulder was not in the best shape and I didn't want to take chances."

It helped that Kenneth Tolon became a workhorse to the Cardinal, rushing for 96 yards on 18 carries and scoring two touchdowns.

Justin McCullum also had a big night, with three catches for 115 yards.

The Cardinal did not commit a turnover for the first time in 31 games, did not throw an interception for the first time in 25 games, and recorded their first two-point conversion since Oct. 26, 2002.

Not a bad start.

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