PALO ALTO -- Tavita Pritchard inherited the Stanford quarterback job Tuesday as T.C. Ostrander recovers from a seizure, just in time for unbeaten USC at the Coliseum.
Pritchard has thrown three passes in his college career and played in one game this season.
And so for Stanford, playing on the road with an inexperienced quarterback, against the Trojans? It's not an ideal situation.
"From the outside looking in, it looks like a recipe for disaster," Cardinal wide receiver Evan Moore said.
No one is sure what to expect of Pritchard, but at least he has good genes -- his uncle is former Washington State star Jack Thompson.
"There's not a whole lot of room for nervousness, there's too much going on up there," Pritchard said. "I think it's a little bit surreal now."
Ostrander had a seizure Sunday afternoon in a nearby restaurant while watching television with his family and teammate Moore as former Stanford quarterback Trent Edwards led the Buffalo Bills over the New York Jets.
The fifth-year senior collapsed, hit his head, and was taken to Stanford Hospital. He was then released in a few hours. He was back in school for classes Monday but is being held out of Saturday's game against the Trojans as a precaution.
Ostrander was sacked seven times Saturday in Stanford's 41-3 loss to Arizona State, but Coach Jim Harbaugh couldn't say whether there was a connection between the physical contact Ostrander absorbed and the seizure.
Moore said he thought Ostrander had simply passed out, possibly from dehydration. He said he had heard about seizures but was unprepared for seeing one.
"Terrible, to say the least. You're watching it, thinking, 'Is he ever going to make it through this?' " Moore said. "It's a scary thing."
Moore said Ostrander's mouth was bleeding from hitting his head when he fell. Paramedics arrived within minutes, Moore said, and Ostrander opened his eyes.
After tests were run on Ostrander and he was released, Moore spoke to him by telephone.
"He said he didn't remember anything until he got into the ambulance," Moore said.
Ostrander's injury is the latest in what is developing into a forgettable first season for Harbaugh as Stanford's head coach. The Cardinal is 1-3, all three defeats in Pacific 10 Conference play, giving up 45, 55 and 41 points.
Allan Smith, the team's leading offensive lineman, is out at least another month after sustaining a torn patellar tendon in his left knee. Ekom Udofia, the team's leading defensive lineman, will miss the USC game because of an ankle injury. Middle linebacker Fred Campbell's career ended because of a spinal injury.
"We know we're not the only team in the country that has injury problems," Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh emphasized that Pritchard, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, is a mobile target for USC tacklers to chase. Although Pritchard said he had been getting only one set of repetitions with the first team for every seven or eight by Ostrander, the coach said Pritchard has a firm grasp of the offense.
USC Coach Pete Carroll said he doesn't expect Stanford to alter its game plan, even with a new quarterback.
"I don't know, they'll figure it out and do what they have to do," he said. "I don't know anything about the quarterback, so we have to figure out what to expect. I would assume they can't change philosophy."
Moore said losing the starting quarterback, the team's lingering health issues, coming back after a 38-point loss at home and matching up next against the Trojans is an opportunity and not a burden.
"To think that we have no chance," he said, "what kind of competitor thinks like that?"
Times staff writer Gary Klein contributed to this report.