Southern Cal-Stanford Preview
David Shaw and Steve Sarkisian made clear that any animosity between them is history now that the latter has moved on to coach at Southern California.
Of more concern to both is how a potential matchup between Trojans defensive end Leonard Williams and Stanford left tackle Andrus Peat will affect this weekend's Pac-12 matchup.
Both teams opened the season with blowout victories and figure to be tested Saturday when the No. 13 Cardinal look to extend the nation's longest home win streak to 18 games as it faces No. 14 USC.
Sarkisian coached the last five seasons with Washington, losing four of five matchups to Stanford. He wasn't happy after last season's 31-28 defeat, claiming that the Cardinal were faking injuries in the final minutes as his Huskies attempted to rally with their up-tempo offense.
Both coaches insist that incident is behind them.
"I think, first of all, I have a great deal of respect for David as a coach and as a person," Sarkisian said. "We had a disagreement in the heat of the moment and I think both of us have moved on. We've seen each other on different occasions since then. We were actually in Hawaii together at an event. We haven't spoken on it and I think our relationship is fine. We've moved on."
Shaw echoed those thoughts.
"It was over," the fourth-year Cardinal coach said. "It was in the past. He and I sat together at lunch and breakfast a couple times and talked about a bunch of other things. Our wives are getting to become good friends; they know each other well so there's no animosity whatsoever."
These coaches will match wits in this rivalry for the first time. USC ended a four-game slide to Stanford last season, as the unranked Trojans knocked off the No. 5 Cardinal 20-17.
The key matchup figures to be between Williams and Peat, who are considered among the best in the nation at their respective positions.
"I think they're both two of the better players in our conference," Sarkisian said. "In our conference, you have those kind of weekly matchups that way that people are intrigued by and I'm sure people will be intrigued by that one."
Shaw didn't say whether he would use Peat by himself to slow down Williams, who had an interception and seven tackles as part of a dominant effort in last Saturday's 52-13 win over Fresno State.
"He's a difference-maker," Shaw said. "There's a lot of guys that you notice and there's some guys that you game plan around. He's one of those that you game plan just because he can be so dominant, he can be disruptive."
Peat is the lone returning starter for a Stanford offensive line that has built a reputation for excellence through the years. The new-look unit helped pave the way for 149 rushing yards on 32 carries in last Saturday's 45-0 win over UC-Davis.
That performance graded out as a "solid B," according to Shaw. A better effort is what he is looking for this weekend.
''They play with a chip on their shoulder,'' said quarterback Kevin Hogan about his offensive line. ''They know that we lost all those great guys on the offensive line the past couple years. They want to prove that they're that next elite group, which I think they are. It helps motivate them.''
Hogan threw for three first-half touchdowns - one to Ty Montgomery, who caught five passes for 77 yards and scored on a punt return for the first time.
The Trojans opened the Sarkisian era that same day with their own rout behind Cody Kessler, who threw for a career-best 394 yards with four touchdown passes and ran for another score to earn conference offensive player of the week honors.
"Cody I thought played really tough, played gritty, played smart, possessed a tremendous amount of leadership," Sarkisian said.
Kessler missed part of Tuesday's practice to undergo a procedure on one of his toes.
''I'm 100 percent. I'm fine,'' Kessler said. ''It was just something bothering me.''
Kessler completed 25 of 37 passes last weekend, the same as he did when these teams last met as he threw for 288 yards and guided the Trojans to a winning field goal with 19 seconds left. Hogan was intercepted twice in the fourth quarter as the Cardinal finished with its lowest point total of the season.
These teams have been tied in the fourth quarter in each of the last four meetings.
Stanford's home-field advantage could be nullified a bit since school has yet to start, meaning that many students won't be back yet on campus to attend.