Stanford mailbag

TJ in San Francisco writes: (Regarding Darron Thomas is leaving early). I think most of us (including me) had chalked up next year's game at Oregon as a loss... what do you think our chances of beating them are now? Should we be more worried about Oregon or Washington in the Pac 12 North?

Kevin Gemmell: If I can steal an old cliché that's pretty popular around The Farm, worry about yourselves, not the other guys. Worry about who is going to play the two safety spots and who will make the defensive calls against the Ducks, not who is under center or in their backfield. Oregon has plenty of firepower -- and will for the foreseeable future. Are they any more vulnerable without Thomas? Maybe. Just as Stanford is more vulnerable without Andrew Luck. And yes, I think Washington is also a big concern -- especially since that is a road game next year with a new starting quarterback for Stanford. If Keith Price continues to mature at the rate he's going, Washington will be a player in the North.

Tyler in "The District" writes: Hey Kevin. If the Heisman trophy voting happened today, would Robert Griffin III still win? To me, it seems that some voters may have previously voted erroneously; more in tune with a fad than sound judgment. Now that time has passed, would voters sober up from the intoxicating RG3 performance against the Longhorns? (By the way, Texas isn't what they used to be and no one seems to care.) Or would they vote for a guy like Luck who wasn't losing 49-3 against Okie State? PS: Don't try to say that RG3's bowl game performance means anything. The convoy of moving trucks in Seattle this past month aren't there because of RG3.

Kevin Gemmell: Tyler, I've long held the belief that Heisman voting should be done after the bowl season. Just a personal opinion. With that said, did anything change in the bowl season that would make you think people who were going to vote for Griffin are suddenly going to change their vote? The fact is, those who wanted to vote for Griffin did, and the people that wanted to vote for Luck did. RG3 didn't do anything to "lose" votes. Maybe Luck would have picked up a few more votes from those who voted for Montee Ball or Trent Richardson or Tyrann Mathieu based on his bowl performance. It was pretty darn good. But RG3's wasn't exactly horrific -- and his team won. I don't think anyone who voted for Griffin is suddenly feeling like they blew it. Time to let this one go.

Kory in Hillsborough, Calif., writes: Any word as to why Coby Fleener and Delano Howell declined their Senior Bowl invitations? I hope they weren't scared to compete because that completely goes against the Stanford football we've come to know.

Kevin Gemmell: No official word, so this is just me speculating. First, both were pretty banged up toward the end of the year. Howell, you'll remember, missed a lot of time due to that hand injury and Fleener's ankle looked like it had a softball sticking out of it after the Fiesta Bowl (he missed the fourth quarter). Both of them have enough of their resumes on film that I don't think one game would make a difference either way. That's my best guess.

Sean in Palo Alto, Calif., writes: You gave Stanford a B+ in the Pac-12 report card. Explain yourself.

Kevin Gemmell: Well, Sean, I'm assuming you think the grade should be higher. Let's look at the facts. They didn't win their conference, that right there drops them from an A to an A-. They didn't win their bowl game. That should drop them down as well. I gave the offense an A- and the defense a B. Average that together and you come out with a B+. Don't think that was too harsh of a grade.