Published October 15, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. – With the 30th anniversary of the famous lateral play surrounding this week's Stanford-California rivalry, Cardinal coach David Shaw was asked for his opinion about the disputed call given the benefit of replay all these years later.
Shaw responded: "You're asking me about replay?"
Indeed, this is not the week.
Shaw said Monday he believes running back Stepfan Taylor scored the tying touchdown on fourth down in No. 22 Stanford's 20-13 overtime loss at fifth-ranked Notre Dame, though he again declined to criticize officials who upheld the decision after a video review. Instead, Shaw sent his concerns about the call — and others — to the Pac-12 offices as part of a procedure most coaches follow each week.
Pac-12 officials called the game on the field while the video review was done by a Big East crew.
"It's hard to say because I'm going to be the most biased guy you'll find," Shaw said. "It's impossible for me to look at it completely objectively. I applaud my guy's effort to keep fighting. I think it's a tough call when it goes upstarts to the booth. It's out of our hands. We have to deal with what the decision is."
That doesn't mean Shaw or his players have to like it.
Behind his big, strong offensive line, Taylor ran for 1 on first, 2 on second and about a foot on third down at the end of Saturday's soggy game. That left one play from inside the 1-yard line and the Notre Dame defense, led by Carlos Calabrese, held up Taylor and moved him backward.
Shaw, Taylor and the rest of the Stanford players insists no whistle blew. Taylor kept reaching and turning with bodies underneath him. His knee never hit the ground before reaching the ball across the goal line — whether his elbow did is unclear. But the officials ruled it was too late. The whistle had blown, and that meant the play was stopped.
Taylor finished with 102 yards on 28 carries. He needed 103.
"It's hard for me to say I'd take the call back," Shaw said. "It didn't work so of course you'd love to say you'd call something else that would work. But at the same time, I think, Stepfan's effort is emblematic of what we want our guys to play with every single play, and he gives that every single play, particularly that last play."
Earlier in the game, Shaw and Stanford players also contend they heard a whistle on third down of a methodical 16-play, 65-yard march that took 8:03 off the clock and reached the Notre Dame 3. The Irish got a stop on third down, though some Stanford players contend they heard a whistle — possibly from the stands — and stopped playing.
They settled for Jordan Williamson's field goal and a three-point lead before Notre Dame forced overtime. While a possible whistle bothered many players, it was the call on Taylor's run that still had Stanford steaming through the weekend.
"I thought he was in. But that's just what I thought," cornerback Usua Amanam said. "I'm on the Stanford football team, so of course I thought that."
No time for Stanford to sulk now.
The 115th edition of the Big Game rivalry resumes Saturday at the new Memorial Stadium in Berkeley. And while Cal (3-4, 2-2) will be the Cardinal's first opponent with a losing record this year, the Stanford Axe is as coveted as ever.
Several Stanford players called the Notre Dame loss one of the toughest of their careers. They also said facing the Golden Bears — a matchup usually slated for the final conference game of the year — will help them get over any Notre Dame hangover.
"It's a tough one to let go, but it's Big Game week. We've got to regroup," senior linebacker Chase Thomas said. "Once we start to focus on Cal with today's meetings, hopefully everyone will forget."
NOTES: WR Ty Montgomery is expected to miss his second straight game because of a lower leg injury that occurred two weeks ago in a win against Arizona, Shaw said. Montgomery was seen riding a bicycle on campus. ... Shaw also said senior MLB Shayne Skov, who limped off the field at Notre Dame with an undisclosed injury, had no lingering health issues and will start against Cal.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP