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Stanford is in luck at QB

By Steven Wine
Associated Press / January 3, 2011

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MIAMI — Andrew Luck threw seven interceptions and 97 incompletions during the regular season. His knowledge of the NFL is less than encyclopedic. And he settled for a B in the most difficult class he has taken at Stanford, one on mechanics called Engineering 14.

Yet coach Jim Harbaugh is disinclined to find fault.

“Andrew is the real deal,’’ Harbaugh says. “He is the best player I’ve ever been around, and he’s even a finer young man. He is just like my wife: He is perfect.’’

Stanford’s passing paragon will take the national stage tonight in the Orange Bowl, when No. 5 Stanford (11-1) faces No. 12 Virginia Tech (11-2). It could be Luck’s final college game — although only a sophomore, he’s touted as the likely No. 1 overall draft pick if he turns pro.

Virginia Tech opened with losses to Boise State and lower-tier James Madison, then regrouped and went undefeated in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Stanford lost in October to Oregon, then swept its final seven regular-season games.

Virginia Tech has a pretty good QB, too. Senior Tyrod Taylor was chosen ACC player of the year, and he’s often compared with one of his predecessors at Tech, Michael Vick.

Taylor seeks his third bowl win in his final college game.

“He’s a stud,’’ Luck says. “When the play breaks down, he’s making guys miss and making things happen. You hate to go against guys like that, because you’ve always got to be on your toes. You never know when they’re going to score.’’

Luck will face a Tech defense ranked second in the nation with 22 interceptions. But in two years as a starter, Luck has been intercepted only 11 times while throwing 41 touchdown passes. He threw for 3,051 yards this year, completing 70 percent of his passes, and finished second to Auburn’s Cam Newton in the Heisman Trophy race.

Luck’s a big reason Stanford has a shot at its first top-five finish since 1940, but teammates say when his image comes on TV, he turns it off.

“He’s so humble, sometimes it’s really painful to hear him talk,’’ senior Owen Marecic said with a laugh. “It’s absolutely genuine. He’s always trying to get better.’’

So while Luck’s not really perfect, he is a perfectionist, hoping for a win tonight to complete Stanford’s near-perfect season.