STANFORD -- Rose Bowl-bound Stanford returned to the practice field Tuesday for the first time since winning the Pac-12 championship 11 days earlier.
An hour later, the Cardinal was done.
"It was good to run around ... make sure the guys don't forget how to play football," coach David Shaw quipped.
The Cardinal, which is in the midst of final exams, won't start preparing for the Rose Bowl until the weekend. At that point, it will lock on an opponent (Wisconsin, the Big Ten champion) that's fresh off a coaching change.
After coach Bret Bielema accepted the same position at Arkansas last week, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez agreed to take over for the bowl game.
Alvarez was the Badgers' coach when they defeated Stanford in the 2000 Rose Bowl, but his presence on the sideline next month is less worrisome to Stanford than who's lining up in the backfield.
"As long as Montee Ball's there,'' Shaw said, "they're a dangerous team.''
Ball is one of the most decorated runners in the country. A Heisman Trophy finalist last season, he holds the major college record for career touchdowns (79) and averages 133 yards per game.
He's the top player on a bruising offense that scored nine touchdowns on Nebraska in the Big Ten championship game.
At 215 pounds, Ball's powerful style is comparable to that of UCLA tailback Jonathan Franklin, who rushed for 194 yards against Stanford in the Pac-12 title game.
"Ball has proven over time that he's the best college back out there,'' Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason said.
"He can run between the tackles, but he has enough speed to be a home-run hitter.''
Ertz, a junior from Alamo, averaged 12.7 yards per catch and had six touchdowns.
"Growing up, you always want to be one of the best people in your position in the nation," Ertz said. "Fortunately, my teammates and coaches have done a good job of getting me the ball, and I've made the most out of those plays.''
Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton was the other recipient.
The Morris Trophy winners are selected by players throughout the conference: Starting offensive linemen vote for the defensive winner, and vice versa.
"So far,'' Shaw said with a smile. "They don't know it yet, but I've unplugged their cell phones.''
Staff writer Elliott Almond contributed to this report. For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner's College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports. Contact him at email@example.com or 408-920-5716.
ROSE BOWL: Stanford (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (8-5), 2:10 p.m. ESPN