Few people outside of the Stanford locker room thought that the Cardinal would be victorious when the team traveled to Autzen Stadium last year to face off against the undefeated Oregon Ducks. The doubt still remained with the Cardinal in possession of the ball at its own 22-yard line with just six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and trailing by a touchdown. That all changed on one spectacular drive, capped off by a touchdown catch that every Cardinal fan around the nation remembers fondly.
Tight end Zach Ertz ‘13, who caught 11 passes for 106 yards in that game, ran a fade and out-jumped Ducks cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu to snatch the ball out of the air before falling with his shoulder just in bounds at the back of the end zone to record the game-tying touchdown catch. Ertz caught four passes for 53 yards on that drive alone, leading Stanford to a touchdown and ultimately to a victory. This time around, Stanford will have to take on the Ducks without last year’s leading receiver, Ertz, who was drafted in the second round by the Philadelphia Eagles.
“The most rewarding part is seeing all your dreams come true,” said Ertz about his experience in the NFL thus far. “Obviously, I’ve put in a lot of hard work to get to where I am today and fortunately I’ve had the opportunity to play eight games this year. But at the end of the day, am I really satisfied at just being in the NFL? I want to succeed in the NFL as well.”
Despite joining a team with two established tight ends on its roster already — Brent Celek and James Casey — Ertz has made a big impact and currently leads the Eagles’ tight ends in receiving this season with 243 yards in Chip Kelly’s high-powered offense. Kelly, Oregon’s coach last year, left the Ducks to become the coach of the Eagles in the offseason.
“It’s been great. Coach Kelly and I have a lot of respect for each other obviously,” Ertz said. “In college, we had a lot of games against Oregon which we had to battle through and now that we’re on the same team it’s been a lot of fun.”
Of course, the most recent battle between the two occurred last year when Ertz hauled in the game-tying touchdown reception to force overtime in a game that the Cardinal eventually won. Chip Kelly has his own opinions about Ertz’s catch, which was initially called incomplete before being overturned by the referees.
“He still doesn’t think it’s a catch, but I keep reminding him that it was a catch,” Ertz said jokingly. “It’s not really up for debate. I mean the refs overturned the call on the field so at the end of the day, it was a catch.”
Stanford will certainly miss Ertz in the upcoming contest against Oregon. However, Ertz doesn’t think that there are very many differences between last year’s squad that beat Oregon and this year’s team.
“[They’re] pretty similar to be honest,” said Ertz when asked to compare the two Stanford squads. “The defense was one of the best in the country and is playing at an even higher level this year than they did last year. They have a go-to receiver in Ty — while last year it was more of the tight ends, this year it’s more of the receivers.”
Even though Ertz can’t compete in this year’s contest, he still has faith that the Cardinal will emerge victorious when the two teams meet this upcoming Thursday. Ertz predicts a 28-24 Stanford victory.
Ertz caught five passes for 42 yards and recorded his first career touchdown in the NFL as the Eagles beat the Raiders 49-20 on Sunday in Oakland, just a 30 minute drive from Ertz’s hometown of Danville, Calif.
Miami Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin ‘12 left the team early last week after allegedly experiencing bullying and harassment from other members of the Dolphins offensive line for some time before an incident in the lunch room on Monday, Oct. 28, sparked his departure. Fox Sports reported that Martin had been subjected to consistent bullying within the locker room from teammates and is now receiving professional treatment for emotional issues.
The Miami Dolphins and its players spoke up in support of Martin’s decision this past week. The Dolphins requested the NFL’s help in looking into these issues. On Sunday, the Dolphins suspended starting guard Richie Incognito indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team, speculated to be related to his treatment of Martin.
In other news, Andrew Luck ‘12 led yet another Colts’ comeback victory as the Colts rallied from a 24-6 deficit on the road to win 27-24 against the Texans. Luck completed 18 of his 40 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns in guiding the Colts to another impressive victory and improving their record to 6-2.
In addition, Doug Baldwin ‘11 had six catches for 75 yards and a touchdown in the Seattle Seahawks’ 27-24 overtime victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Contact Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.