jwilner@mercurynews.com

Stanford could call a few misdirection runs Saturday before the start of its last scheduled home game.

The Cardinal will introduce its seniors before kickoff against Notre Dame. The group will include players who are on track to graduate in the spring but have one season of eligibility remaining and a momentous decision looming: Enter the NFL draft, or return for the 2014 season.

In other words, Stanford fans should not assume the worst if left guard David Yankey, defensive end Henry Anderson, linebacker A.J. Tarpley and safety Ed Reynolds are introduced.

"Some may do it and come back next year," coach David Shaw said. "I tell them, 'If there's any doubt, go through with it.' It's not a negative if you go through it and come back and go through it again next year."

Shaw plans to speak to his NFL draft candidates after the regular season. Yankey is considered a potential first-round pick and the most likely of Stanford's academic seniors/athletic juniors to leave school.

"He's good enough, but that would be 100 percent up to him," Shaw said. "We'll have those discussions after the Pac-12 championship game. I wouldn't be surprised either way, to be honest."

  • Stanford's 20-13 overtime loss at Notre Dame last year was one of the most controversial games of the season:


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    Officials ruled tailback Stephan Taylor had been stopped just short of the end zone despite replays indicating his forward progress continued until he broke the plane of the goal line.

    But the outcome should not have come to that, according to Shaw, who listed dropped passes, missed tackles, blown coverage assignments and a slew of other mistakes as the reason Stanford lost.

    "Those critical plays that we didn't make and Notre Dame made were the real difference in the game," he said.

  • Quarterback Kevin Hogan grew up rooting for the Irish. He had no choice, really. His father, sister, aunts, uncles, grandparents and at least 10 cousins attended Notre Dame.

    But Hogan's childhood desire to play for the Irish gave way to personal preference and the reality of the recruiting process. (Notre Dame's interest in him was, at first, tepid.)

    "I started focusing on other schools and what might have been the best fit for me," said Hogan, who attended Gonzaga Prep in Washington, D.C.

  • Cornerback Alex Carter (concussion), who missed the Big Game, is expected to play Saturday. His father, Tom, played for the Irish and had a lengthy NFL career.

    Kicker Jordan Williamson (leg) is expected to take all field goals and extra points Saturday after being limited last week.

  • Stanford will learn Saturday night whether it's hosting the Pac-12 title game or playing on the road. If Arizona State beats Arizona, the Dcc. 7 game will be in Sun Devil Stadium.

    "I'm no good at ignoring things that are there," Shaw said. "I'm not going to say: 'We're not talking about it. We're just talking about Notre Dame.'

    "So we addressed it (Monday), the important aspects, and then set it aside.''

    For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner's College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports. Contact him at jwilner@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5716.

    saturday's game

    Notre Dame (8-3) at Stanford (9-2), 4 p.m. Fox