Not Just Luck: No. 7 Stanford gaining 'attitude'
With the outcome already decided, Stanford coach David Shaw found no satisfaction in letting the final minutes tick down and cruising to another blowout victory.
The first-year head coach decided to go for it on fourth down twice in the second half in the Cardinal's 48-7 romp over Pac-12 newcomer Colorado on Saturday night - just to give his team something to think about.
''Our attitude is that if it's close, with the line that we have, with the fullbacks we have, with the tight ends we have, with the backs that we have, we should pick up anything that's less than fourth-and-3,'' Shaw said.
''We should pick it up. We don't bat an eyelash. We don't think about it. We don't even talk about it on the headset. We just get the next call ready. That's the kind of mentality we need to have up front in order for us to play games the way we want to play them.''
So far, so good.
The Cardinal (5-0, 2-0) have showed they have more to offer than just the best quarterback in the country.
And with bigger matchups looming against Washington, Southern California and Oregon, others will have to make major contributions.
Three different running backs ran for touchdowns, Max Bergen blocked a field goal and returned it for a score and Michael Thomas forced the defense's first interception in an all-around performance against the Buffaloes (1-5, 0-2), a program still searching for its first league victory since leaving the Big 12.
Stanford also showed some swagger by converting twice on fourth down in the third quarter on touchdown drives.
Stepfan Taylor ran 3 yards on fourth-and-2 from the Colorado 13, and Tyler Gaffney had a 1-yard TD run on fourth-and-goal on the next possession.
''We can't let the scoreboard dictate our feeling about how we played,'' said Shaw, staying with the aggressive approach of his predecessor, Jim Harbaugh. ''If we can play better, then we should know it and we should play better.''
For all of Luck's talent, he often overshadows the play of his teammates.
While former Stanford standouts Tiger Woods and John Elway joined the crush of NFL scouts on the sidelines, most of them weren't even there to see Luck.
After all, only one team gets the No. 1 pick, and it's doubtful any team will spend much time debating whom to take first.
The Cardinal also have three tight ends - Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo - who have potential at the next level, with Fleener expected to be a high pick.
Left tackle Jonathan Martin is projected to be a top-10 selection and guard David DeCastro and several defensive players will also likely hear their names called late in April's draft.
The contributions from all over have helped Stanford outscore its opponents 231-53 this season.
Even after the most complete performance of the season, Luck still didn't sound too pleased.
''I think we need to improve,'' he said. ''It wasn't good enough.''
The humble words don't match his play.
Luck completed 26 of 33 passes against Colorado to extend the nation's longest winning streak to 13 games.
The strong-armed quarterback called his own plays again for long stretches, although the no-huddle offense first displayed last week against UCLA was used sparingly.
Only a 423-yard passing performance in a loss at Arizona in 2009 did Luck throw for more yards, and he didn't even play the final 10 minutes against Colorado.
The latest romp delighted a rare sellout crowd of 50,360 - only the second in a row - that included some of Stanford's greats.
Luck and the rest of his teammates were piling up points so fast that they didn't even have time to speak with Woods or Elway.
At least anything more than a quick hello.
''We hardly noticed it,'' Thomas said, ''to be honest.''
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP