STANFORD -- From the explosive evidence he dished out against Oregon, it appears Stanford inside linebacker Shayne Skov is back to the high-impact level he reached before tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee 14 months ago.
But despite the impressive 10-tackle effort he turned in against the No. 1 Ducks -- a performance that earned him the Walter Camp Award as the national defensive player of the week -- Skov and Cardinal coach David Shaw maintained Tuesday that he's not quite all the way back.
Both coach and player believe the best is yet to come -- perhaps when Stanford plays at UCLA on Saturday (3:35 p.m., FOX) with a chance to lock up the Pac-12 North title and host the conference championship game the following week against the Bruins.
"He's completely healthy, there are no limitations, he can do everything," Shaw said Tuesday. "But the last thing that always comes back is the explosion. It's close to being back. It's not completely back to where it was before the injury. But it's really only a matter of time."
Shaw qualified Skov's performance by saying Stanford's defensive strategy was to force Oregon's outside plays to the middle, and when the outside linebackers were able to do that successfully, it set the stage for Skov to shine, and he delivered in a big way.
"It was a perfect time for him to have his best game," Shaw said.
Skov's assessment is that he broke through some kind of comeback barrier
"I think mentally it's probably the best I've been all year," said the 6-foot-3, 242-pound senior from Piedmont. "I think I still have a ways to go physically to meet my own expectations. The difference between playing well and playing great is whether you're thinking about getting off blocks or you just refuse to be blocked. It's a state of mind, so I felt like I was pretty locked in on Saturday."
As for being such an instrumental part of such a huge win after such a long, difficult recovery from ACL surgery, Skov said, "It felt great, I'm not going to lie."
Skov maintained he still doesn't feel like his pass rushing skills are what they once were and he doesn't have a timetable on when he might be 100 percent.
"It's a process," he said. "I knew when I came back I wasn't going to be 100 percent right away. I'm just going to continue to get better as I move on, and hopefully, I'll be even better than last week."
Williamson, who frequently wears a baseball cap from the Fiesta Bowl, where he missed two crucial field goal attempts in an overtime loss to Oklahoma State last January, said the encouragement he received from people "pretty high up" since that disaster -- both inside football and out -- has prompted him to contact other kickers who've gone through similar experiences. He said that earlier this year, he reached out to Pittsburgh kicker Kevin Harper, who missed an overtime kick that would have beaten Notre Dame.
After making his game-winning kick against the Ducks, though, he kept it close to home.
"I just ran over to the Stanford section to find my dad to give him a hug," he said. "That was a huge moment for me, because my family had been there for me after the Fiesta Bowl and I just wanted to share that moment with my dad."
Williamson wasn't the only Stanford kicker soaking up glory. Punter Daniel Zychlinski was named Pac-12 defensive player of the week after punting six times for a 45.7 average against Oregon, which included kicks of 62 and 57 yards to keep the Ducks pinned deep in their own territory.
Ertz, who has 58 receptions for 747 yards and six touchdowns, was also named as one of three finalists for the John Mackey Award designating the nation's top collegiate tight end. The other two nominees are Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert.
"Everything about him says success -- his demeanor, his attention to detail, his seriousness, his unselfishness," the coach said. "He's one of the best runners in our conference, but without a doubt, he is the best pass protector in our conference, and one of the best in the country. He's a phenomenal pass blocker."