STANFORD — Kevin Hogan hustled off the practice field Tuesday morning, changed out of his sweaty Stanford football jersey and headed across campus for his most important meeting: a Spanish test.
Forgive the Cardinal quarterback if he’s short on words — or mixing up his languages.
For the third straight season on The Farm, the year’s biggest exams fall on the same week. Not only are the eighth-ranked Cardinal (11-2) finishing finals in the classroom, the Pac-12 champions are beginning preparations for the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl against Big Ten winner Wisconsin (8-5).
“We’re used to it by now,” Hogan said. “We’ve been through this already.”
After playing in the Orange Bowl and Fiesta Bowl the past two seasons, the experience still doesn’t make the work any easier on or off the field at the rigorous academics university.
Players had last week off during a “dead week” of school, when students don’t have class but hunker down for exams. Hogan, a redshirt freshman who has yet to declare his major, has another final Friday in Earth Systems before he can fully invest his time in football.
Same goes for most of his teammates.
Hogan still gathered his wide receivers and tight ends during the off week to run routes and stay in game shape. Others have been recovering from the bumps and bruises of the season since beating UCLA 27-24 in the league title game on Nov. 30.
“I think it’s just balancing, finding the right combination of being prepared but not overthinking everything,” linebacker Shayne Skov said. “I think with any sort of important moment in your life you want to be thorough, you want to be ready, but you also don’t want to overdo things and put any undue stress on yourself.”
Stanford coach David Shaw and his staff hit the recruiting trail from coast to coast while also beginning to game plan for the Badgers.
Wisconsin added a wrinkle to that preparation when Bret Bielema surprisingly left to become the new Arkansas coach. Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez, the coach from 1990 through 2005, will return to the sidelines for the Rose Bowl before he hires a replacement.
Shaw said that changed “nothing” other than the hand he will shake following the game.
“We have to compartmentalize,” Shaw said. “They’re a prideful group. As long as Montee Ball is back there at running back, I expect to see the same Wisconsin team.”
NOTES: Shaw huddled players after practice to recognize David Yankey for winning the Morris Trophy, given annually to the Pac-12′s most outstanding offensive and defensive linemen. Arizona State DT Will Sutton won on the defensive side. Yankey shuffled from left tackle to his more natural guard position to anchor a young offensive line this season. The junior will return for his senior season and is expected to be a high pick in the 2014 NFL draft. “I haven’t seen everybody. But from what I’ve seen, he might be the best guard in the country right now,” Shaw said. “We hope he can just play guard next season.” … Zach Ertz said he was disappointed that he didn’t win the Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end. He also said former Stanford TE Coby Fleener, who was snubbed last year before being drafted 34th overall by the Indianapolis Colts, reached out to him following the announcement. Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifer took home the award. Eifer had 44 receptions for 624 yards and four touchdowns. Ertz had 66 catches for 837 yards and six touchdowns, including the winning score against then-No. 2 Southern California and the tying touchdown to force overtime in a win at top-ranked Oregon. … Stanford will leave for Pasadena on Dec. 26.