More tough luck for Stanford's Smith
STANFORD, Calif. (AP)Stanford left tackle Allen Smith will miss 4 to 6 weeks with a sprained right knee, a tough break for the sixth-year senior who had worked his way back after being sidelined the past two seasons with serious left knee injuries.
Smith sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee when another player fell on him during Saturday night's 33-14 home victory against Arizona State. The win moved the Cardinal within one victory of becoming bowl eligible.
Coach Jim Harbaugh hopes Smith will return this season. The training staff still hadn't categorized the degree of Allen's sprain, Harbaugh said.
"In talking to Allen and the trainers, they think he will be back this year," Harbaugh said Tuesday.
Stanford (5-3, 4-2 Pac-10) also is without junior tailback Jeremy Stewart indefinitely. Harbaugh said that Stewart injured his ankle Sept. 26 against Washington and hasn't practiced or played since.
Without Stewart, the Cardinal lose a lot of experience on the depth chart behind star senior running back Toby Gerhart. Freshmen Stepfan Taylor and Tyler Gaffney will help pick up the load. Taylor had a 33-yard touchdown run Saturday, his second TD of the season.
Smith received a medical hardship and sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA for this season. He had come back to earn his first start in two years Oct. 17 in a loss at Arizona.
Losing Smith comes at a tough time for Stanford. The Cardinal have a bye this week before a grueling four-game stretch to end the season that will determine their bowl fate - home with Oregon, at Southern California, home against archrival California and home versus Notre Dame.
In Harbaugh's second season last year, Stanford finished one win shy of making it to a bowl game for the first time since 2001 - losing to rival California 37-16 in the Big Game.
The Cardinal haven't been to a top-tier bowl since coach Tyrone Willingham's team won the conference and played in the Rose Bowl following the 1999 season. Stanford made it to the Seattle Bowl in Willingham's final season in 2001, but has not been back to the postseason since.