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Nunes Passes Test Against USC

Post-Luck era begins at quarterback.

For many Stanford rooters, it may be enough to know that Josh Nunes can beat Southern Cal. Not that he did it alone, of course, but he was the quarterback September 15 when Stanford stunned the visiting Trojans 21-14, prompting fans to stream out of the stands for a prolonged on-field celebration. Until that evening, Nunes was the player with the unenviable burden of succeeding a proven wizard, Andrew Luck, '12. After the victory, he was newly appreciated for what he can contribute in his own right.

But what's underneath the focused demeanor that was critical to his winning the starting QB job? Nunes's composure and savvy made him coach David Shaw's choice for managing Stanford's elaborate offense. Then the redshirt junior unveiled another dimension of his talent by boldly running for clutch gains against USC, surprising even Shaw, '94. Exactly who are you, Josh Nunes?

"A regular guy, I guess," says Nunes (pronounced "newness"). But under persistent questioning, a few of his "secrets" spill forth. "Thirteen bucks at twilight," he blurts out with a smile, referring to the student rate for the Stanford golf course. If a window of time pops open, he's quick to head for the course, if possible with teammates Ryan Hewitt, '13, and Ben Gardner, '13.

Growing up in Southern California, Nunes loved the outdoors—camping, kayaking, fishing and dirt biking are just some of the activities he rattles off, noting that he still squeezes in some fishing time with teammates. The childhood story the media seem to like best is that his father stuck a Stanford cap on him when he was 7 or 8. Nunes says he always understood it as a symbol of aspiring to the "morals and attitude that Stanford represented."

"I had always known in the back of my mind that I wanted to come here," he says. When he wasn't sure Shaw's predecessor, Jim Harbaugh, was going to offer him a spot, he made a verbal commitment to Tennessee, which he retracted when Stanford finally beckoned.

A management science and engineering major, Nunes was typically low-key after the USC game, although that was as much about football realism as his admittedly reserved personality. That circumspection proved sensible after his struggle in a 17-13 loss to Washington. With a 3-1 record and with most of the season still ahead, the clear-headed choice was to see each game as "one step on the road."

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