Raiders defensive coordinator, Jason Tarver, knows Andrew Luck fairly well. Luck's senior season at Stanford was Tarver's only season as the co-defensive coordinator for the Cardinal. Watching Luck in practice every day and planning his defense to try and stop him is a valuable experience for Tarver heading into the Raiders' season opener in Indianapolis where he will once again try to crack the code on Luck.
That task will not be easy. Luck was the number one overall pick by the Colts following his senior season at Stanford. He was already the odds on favorite to be the top pick which gave rise to the phrase "suck for Luck" even prior to the start of the 2011 season. That season the Colts were without Peyton Manning for the first time in over a decade and their two win season put them in position to replace their former franchise quarterback with another one.
The result was an instant turn around in fortune for the Colts who surged from a 2-14 season to an 11-5 season with Luck at the helm.
Coming along with him to Stanford was his offensive coordinator, Pep Hamilton. That means how Luck is deployed will be similar to what Tarver saw during his time there.
Luck said outside of having a true fullback and some change in terminology, his offense is pretty similar to what he ran at Stanford; "There are a lot of similarities but this is the NFL so there's going to be more scope, more breadth, especially protection wise, but sort of the base would be the same as with Stanford's I guess."
Jason Tarver may have some insight into Hamilton's offensive approach as well as Luck's tendencies, but that may not be near enough to stop him.
"Figuring out Andrew is kind of a hard thing to do," said Tarver. "He's very smart. Andrew's a great player and even a better person. . . He makes you excited to play against him because you have to be precise and you have to have endurance. You have to keep doing things right for four quarters to have a chance. That's the only way to beat a team with him on it.
"You have to keep being precise because like a lot of the great ones, they believe they can make the plays and they have made the plays in the past. So, when you're precise at executing your [rush]... then you gotta to keep doing it right and doing it right. And when he moves in the pocket, if you're working off each other, then you have a chance to hit him or force him into a throw. That's the only way that you beat the really great quarterbacks at any level. You just have to keep playing and doing things right and doing things right and keep going and keep being precise. Because the second you're not precise, he's make a play."
The flip side of this is Hamilton and Luck are also familiar with Tarver's strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies. It will be a nice game of chess which could be the deciding factor in the game. Then again, the Colts are considered a much better team, so in the end it may simply come down to that.