STANFORD -- Stanford has a rare opportunity when it faces No. 15 Washington on Saturday: The chance to exact revenge.

Just don't call it that within earshot of anyone in cardinal and white.

"I don't like that word too much -- Coach (David) Shaw doesn't want us to think about that word," receiver Ty Montgomery said. "What happened last year happened last year. All we want is to be 1-0 this week."

Washington's 17-13 victory in Seattle early last season is Stanford's only conference loss in almost two years. It came during a particularly difficult stretch in the drive to the Rose Bowl -- just before the overtime escape against Arizona and the controversial loss at Notre Dame.

It would be another month, in fact, before Stanford changed quarterbacks and transformed its season. Kevin Hogan took over for Josh Nunes in early November, giving the Cardinal the athleticism in the pocket it desperately needed.

Stanford (4-0, 2-0) hasn't lost since.

"Schematically, we're not really different," Shaw said. "Our personnel is different. To have that mobile quarterback is big."

Hogan's presence, the emergence of big-play receivers and the maturation of the defense have combined to make No. 5 Stanford a more formidable team than it was at this point last year.

The Huskies are also better, partly because of a veteran offense that features four elite playmakers: quarterback Keith Price; tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins; tailback Bishop Sankey, who rushed for 144 yards against the Cardinal; and receiver Kasen Williams, who scored the winning touchdown on a 35-yard reception.

Also back for the Huskies (4-0, 1-0) this season: defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, whose tactics confused the Cardinal.

"They did something against us that we hadn't seen," Shaw said. "They took the game away from us. They did a great job against the run, and we didn't make them pay for it with the pass."

  • Reserve tailback Barry Sanders scored his first career touchdown Saturday in the victory over Washington State. But the redshirt freshman with the famous name isn't ready to crack the starting lineup.

    "He's going to have a role, but we're going to continue to spoon feed him," Shaw said. "Is he going to be special? Absolutely. Is he ready yet? He's not ready yet."

    Sanders is slowly getting comfortable with the most complicated aspect of his position: pass protection. To that end, the play that impressed Shaw the most Saturday wasn't Sanders' 22-yard touchdown run or nifty 16-yard catch-and-run. It was picking up a safety blitz.

    "That was the biggest sign of maturity that you see in a running back," Shaw said.

  • Defensive end Henry Anderson (knee), who has missed the past two games because of knee injury, will be out at least three more weeks.

  • Reserve offensive tackle Kyle Murphy doubles as a backup tight end and wears a uniform number, 94, that makes him an eligible receiver. Stanford threw his way once last week, but the pass fell incomplete.

    "Even if we don't hit it," Shaw said, "we have to show the defense that they have to cover it."