Murphy was "unstoppable" Tuesday
The Bootleg's midweek practice report is loaded with nuggets with nuggets of new information, including David Shaw's interesting evaluation of Joshua Garnett, a previously secret component of Andrus Peat's success, and a thorough breakdown of Kevin Hogan's progress with Mike Sanford.
Entering this week, perhaps the overarching theme of Stanford spring
practice had been that of the offense's New Hope, which reached a crescendo
Saturday when officials signaled Ryan Hewitt had scored to end matters.
That ruling awarded the Stanford offense a scrimmage victory
over the club's vaunted defense.
Then came Tuesday's practice, which can be known as The Defense
The second session of 2013 spring ball has centered on implementing
and refining specific situational strategies. Tuesday's workout
focused on aggressive third down blitz packages, the type of
material that certainly makes outside linebacker Trent Murphy lick
Dinner was served.
"It went really well for our defense," coach David Shaw said. "There
are so many guys in the front seven who don't stay blocked. Even
when you have them blocked, if somebody's not open right away, they
get off of you."
Defensive coordinator Derek Mason implemented what Shaw called
"controlled chaos with a lot of movement." The experienced Cardinal
safety tandem of Ed Reynolds and Jordan Richards bought time for
blitz after blitz to do its job.
"The two safeties on the back end, if they can confuse the
quarterback just briefly, someone's going to get home," Shaw said. "It
was well-orchestrated by the defense today."
Murphy was the main beneficiary on the front end during an
"unstoppable" practice, while David Parry and Ben Gardner also
caused their share of destruction.
"It's fun to watch as a head coach," Shaw said. "It's not always fun
to watch as an offensive coach."
Baptism by Fire
Even in periods of general offensive struggle, Stanford rising
sophomore left tackle Andrus Peat has held his own with impressive
play up front this spring. Strength and conditioning coordinator
Shannon Turley's revered program has helped Peat convert fat into
muscle. It's prepared him for heavy duty action with the Cardinal's
"[His] pass protection has been really solid, run blocking has been
really solid, picking up the calls and sometimes making the calls on
blocking assignments has been very solid," Shaw praised. "He's off
to a great start, and he's only getting better."
Peat's sailing hasn't always been smooth, though. When the touted
freshman arrived on campus last summer, he endured a hellacious
stretch of one-on-one practice pass protection assignments.
Stalwarts Murphy and Chase Thomas beat Peat every single time,
running circles around him to the quarterback.
"Oh gosh, it was brutal. Those guys are nasty, and they didn't pull
any punches either," Shaw nearly winced as he remembered. "It was
baptism by fire... At one point, I passed by him after a one-on-one
[pass protection drill] and I said, 'This is good for you. There's
no better place to learn.'"
Fast forward eight months, and Peat is playing with tremendous
confidence and moving his massive frame more quickly than he ever
has before. Shaw says that, on most days, his big tackle is able to
consistently keep Murphy -- one of the nation's finest pass rushers
-- at arm's length.
"It's been fun to watch his growth," Shaw said.
Garnett the Right Guard
One of Peat's fellow rising sophomore monoliths isn't making the
climb up the depth chart quite as quickly. Joshua Garnett did not
take any first team repetitions at right guard at Stanford's open
practice this past Saturday, giving way to both Kevin Danser and
Khalil Wilkes instead.
"I think Andrus Peat has taken great strides. I think Kyle Murphy
has taken some big strides," Shaw said. "I think Josh has taken
smaller strides. We're going to keep pushing him because we think
he's got the ability to be extremely good at this game."
Stanford fans certainly witnessed some of that potential in glimpses
of Garnett action last season, but Shaw's quote -- combined with No.
51's dearth of first team reps -- certainly seems to insinuate that
he's currently trailing in the competition for the right guard
starting spot. Granted, the season opener is still about five months
away, but Garnett certainly has some work to do in the upcoming
heavy conditioning phase and in August training camp.
For the record, Shaw did call Garnett's progression "solid." He just
emphasized that it hasn't reached the level that Peat and Murphy
Running back Remound Wright, who was "banged up" at last
Saturday's open practice, is expected to return to practice on
Thursday. He'll be full-go at Saturday's spring game while
cornerback Barry Browning and fullback Geoff Meinken will sit out.
Browning's absence was expected as the senior recovers from a
shoulder injury; Meinken's was not. The fullback, who suffered a
severe knee injury during last season's spring game, has been
experiencing some pain in the previously injured area. He will
revisit with team doctors this week.
Meanwhile, linebacker Shayne Skov is humming along in his second
year back from his ugly knee injury at a lighter, bouncier 235-pound
weight. The stated goal of Stanford's medical and training staff has
been to return Skov to a stronger form than his pre-injury self, and
Shaw affirmed that the fifth-year senior is on track to meet that
"He's fast, he's excitable, he is everything we hoped he was going
to be back to. He's there right now," Shaw said. "He's been our
emotional leader for three years, and this year isn't going to be
Finally, tight end Alex Frkovic (also known as "the big Canadian"),
who's in the midst of a long knee injury recovery of his own, is not
expected to practice until August training camp.
Spring Forward Progress
Outside linebackers Blake Lueders and James Vaughters, who are
currently locked in a ferocious position battle, are among the
players who Shaw says have taken the biggest strides this spring. So
are defensive linemen Ikenna Nwafor and Aziz Shittu.
"Aziz has put three straight great practices back-to-back-to-back," he said. "Which is exciting, because he's shown he can do it, and
now we're starting to see consistency."
Offensively, receivers Michael Rector and Devon Cajuste "have really
taken it upon themselves to come out and play." Both are featured in
The Bootleg Radio's exclusive interview with Stanford assistant Mike
Sanford, who breaks down the offense's progress above. Make sure to
give it a listen before Saturday's spring game, which kicks off at 3
David Lombardi is the Stanford
Insider for The Bootleg and FOX Sports Next. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com and follow him on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.
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