LOS ANGELES—Saturday morning, Stanford and Wisconsin players and coaches participated in the Rose Bowl’s media day, giving reporters access to everybody on both rosters. Here are some quick bits and pieces from both teams. Wisconsin’s practice and media availability scheduled for this afternoon has been cancelled, likely because it has rained all morning here. Look for more Daily Cardinal coverage this evening and leading up to kickoff Tuesday afternoon.
Stanford head coach David Shaw said the way Barry Alvarez was able to stabilize UW’s coaching situation in the wake of Bret Bielema leaving Dec. 4 impressed him.
“I think Barry is awesome,” Shaw said. “I’ll say it flat out. I had to grab him at Disneyland and take a picture with him.”
Shaw, in his second year as the head coach of the Cardinal, has led Stanford to a Bowl Championship Series bowl berth in each of his first two years. According to the Wisconsin game notes, this is just the second time in the BCS era that a bowl matchup has pitted two teams each making a third-straight BCS appearance (2005 Orange Bowl between USC and Oklahoma).
Alvarez has said over the past three weeks that he didn’t consider coaching in the Rose Bowl until he was approached by the captains of the team after Bielema left for the head coaching job at Arkansas. Still, he reiterated Saturday he’s excited to put his 3-0 mark in the Rose Bowl and 8-3 bowl record on the line Tuesday.
“Come on, coach one game, the Rose Bowl? That's the most fun game I've ever coached,” Alvarez said. “There's nothing like it. I mean, it's like giving me an early Christmas present.”
“I still get chills thinking about it, and any time I take the field, and I've said this probably many, many times, there's nothing like taking the field at the Rose Bowl,” Alvarez said. “It's the most beautiful venue in all of sports, I think. I'll be just as thrilled as the first time I took it when I take the field this time.”
Stanford’s TE threat Zach Ertz
Stanford redshirt junior tight end Zach Ertz leads the Cardinal in receiving this year with 66 rec., 847 yards and six TDs. Shaw said he thinks the Alamo, Calif. native deserved to win the Mackey Award, given annually to the nation’s top tight end.
“I don’t think I’ve been around a college tight end or a receiver playing the slot or playing in the backfield the way Zach Ertz can and be effective,” Shaw said.
Ertz is listed at 6’6 and causes matchup nightmares all over the field. Wisconsin redshirt junior outside linebacker Ethan Armstrong said he couldn’t help but be impressed watching Ertz on tape.
“He’s really dangerous, he’s a tough matchup and if you don’t play him with good technique he’s going to beat you,” Armstrong said. “There are some plays he just makes whether you’re there or not.”
Both teams participated in the Lawry’s Beef Bowl competition Friday night. Badgers redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Dallas Lewallen claimed the title. According to junior defensive tackle Beau Allen, Lewallen put away seven cuts of prime rib.
“In my defense, the first cut I got was the biggest piece of meat I’ve seen in my entire life,” said Allen, who finished with two after many picked him as a prime contender to win. “Everyone talked me up and then I disappointed spectacularly.”
Allen said outgoing strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert sat at his table at Lawry’s, making for an interesting conversation about nutrition.
“On the plate, you’ve got a big piece of meat and then creamed corn, mashed potatoes and gravy,” Allen said. “I asked him how many calories he estimated were on each plate and he said around 3,500 to 4,000 calories. That’s enough calories to last you a couple weeks, I think”
“We think they increased the size of the meat from last year and the year before to this year because, I swear, my piece was like four inches thick," Allen said. "It took up the whole plate. I don’t know how you could eat seven of those. If you stack them up side by side, and then … a stomach … I don’t get how that works.”