STANFORD, Calif. — Stanford coach David Shaw is still upset that the helmet-to-helmet hit that knocked receiver Francis Owusu out with a concussion was not worthy of a targeting penalty.
Owusu was hit in the second quarter Saturday by UCLA defensive back Tahaan Goodman. Owusu had caught a pass from Ryan Burns and taken a few steps before the hit that caused a fumble.
There was no penalty called on the play because officials on the field and in the replay booth determined Owusu was not “defenseless,” making the helmet-to-helmet contact legal.
“It’s not about being defenseless or not,” Shaw said Monday. “It’s about making the game as safe as we can make it. We should not lead with our helmets on someone else’s helmet.”
No. 7 Stanford won 22-13 but heads into this week’s showdown at No. 10 Washington without Owusu, who is still recovering. Shaw said Owusu’s condition has improved but he will sit out at least one more week.
“If it was up to him, he’d play, but that’s not up to him,” Shaw said. “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure he’s 100 percent before he steps back on the field and that won’t be this week.”
Shaw’s anger over the play was not directed at UCLA or Goodman but at a rule he feels needs to be changed if officials are committed to making the game safer.
“Plays like this should be penalized so they stop happening,” he said. “If we don’t penalize them, they will continue to happen. That’s common sense. It’s where we want to go with the game. Why wait. We should go there now and I thought we were there.”
Shaw said he believes there would be wide support for expanding the rule to make hits like the one that knocked out Owusu illegal.
“The defense for this not being a penalty I couldn’t imagine what it really could be rationally,” he said. “I understand the letter of the law. It’s been quoted to me multiple times over the last 24 hours. But to me, it’s immaterial. We have initial contact with one helmet on another helmet. It should be a penalty.”
The Cardinal also could be without three other key players Friday night against the Huskies. Starting cornerbacks Quenton Meeks and Alijah Holder left Saturday’s win with injuries and their status is in doubt this week. Fullback Daniel Marx also got hurt and may miss time.
Alameen Murphy and Terrence Alexander replaced Meeks and Holder in the secondary and helped shut down Josh Rosen and the Bruins. Frank Buncom also could get more time this week at cornerback if needed.
“We have the depth if those guys miss a week or two or more,” Shaw said. “We’ll see. We’re still checking on those guys and we’ll see how that goes. I feel good about the guys we have.”
NOTES: Shaw dismissed speculation that he would be interested in the job opening at LSU following the firing of Les Miles over the weekend. “Are you serious?” he said when asked whether there had been contact. “The answer is no.” … Stanford flipped offensive tackles, moving Casey Tucker to the right side and A.T. Hall to the left.