David Shaw Sets the Scene
Shaw is ready for action
Shaw is ready for action
Sports Editor
Posted Aug 1, 2013

We didn’t get that sweatshirt with the red “STANFORD” lettering on a red background, but other than that, it was full-on David Shaw at this week’s Bay Area Media Day. In the first half of his comments, he focuses on the roster, updating us on some position battles and predicting some potential breakout stars.

On Bill Walsh:
Bill Walsh has done so much for San Jose State, so much for Stanford in the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and today. I think that has been so key to our success. Every single year, there’s two names that stick out in Bay Area football: Bill Walsh and Al Davis.

On what he learnt from Walsh:
Preparation. Always specific preparation. It was never about, ‘Let’s run a whole bunch of plays.’ We run this play for this reason, and here’s what’s going to happen. It was uncanny how often he was right. He knew the teams we were playing, understood their structure and how to manipulate that to get an advantage.

[Per Shaw, Walsh one time announced in practice that they would run a certain play from around midfield in an upcoming game and they would score a touchdown off it. The team rolled its eyes, but sure enough, Stanford would score from midfield on that play shortly thereafter.]

On the bye timing:
It’s always good when you have a bye at the beginning to see other teams and their mistakes. [The offseason is] such a buildup and there’s no preseason. Game 1 starts and it counts right now. So it’s good to see good teams struggle and say, ‘Let’s learn from their mistakes.’

On unsung stars:
Boy that’s hard, that’s hard. There’s two guys on defense that played great and no one is talking about. A.J. Tarpley is not a good player, A.J. is a great football player. And Alex Carter going into his sophomore year, he was unbelievable as a freshman. You don’t see people play corner as well as he did. Those guys are going to be high on a lot of lists.

On the center competition:
Conor McFadden was a backup center for the last two years. Khalil Wilkes is in a battle. Kevin Danser has shown a desire to win at the center position.

On the week one bye:
It’s a long story. Notre Dame, USC and UCLA are involved. We were invited to early preseason games at Cowboy Stadium and all those things. I’m happy with where we are right now.

On whether he’s happy with the wide receivers:
To a certain degree, but I’m always happy with more competition. Ty Montgomery, Devon Cajuste, Kelsey Young and Kodi Whitfield have all done really well. Jeff Trojan battled for time. Connor Crane, it was his first spring and I’m fired up to see him compete. [Comment: In a sea of positivity, that “to a certain degree” looms large to me. Skov and Yankey specifically mentioned the wide receivers as a group that needs to step up as well. Reading between the lines of coach speak is a delicate science, so I hope I’m wrong here or that someone surprises come fall.]

On roster limitations:
We don’t change our philosophy, but when players leave, we find players to come in, and we have to find their strengths and tweak schemes here and there. … Dad told me that there aren’t enough corners with high GPAs so we have to find someone [else]. It’s about finding the kids who have our mentality who are athletic.

On reports about the incoming freshmen:
It’s tertiary and it’s hard to tell. I know summer is culture shock. And the shock is Shannon Turley shock. I’ve heard they all made it through and heard they all made strides. They were all talking about Peter Kalambayi, physically so gifted and so strong.

On Shayne Skov:
Trent Murphy and Ben Garder are great leaders for us. A.J. Tarpley is a great leader for us, but for four years, Shayne has been the emotional heartbeat of the entire team. For four years, his passion, his energy drives the entire team.

I saw him in spring closer to 100 percent. He’s not quite there, but I saw it when we flipped the ball outside and saw him run full speed and knock Wilkerson out for no gain.

As great as he played against Oregon and throughout season, he played hard but his explosiveness and speed weren’t there. He was 90, 95 percent, and now he says he’s 100 percent. I’m excited for him to face someone else, because he’s going to wreak havoc on us for three weeks.

I’ve heard that a lot of guys, linebackers, receivers, [an injury] makes them more conscientious of being in the right place. When you’re really fast, your eyes don’t have to be perfect. Last year, he was not 100 percent speed-wise, so hopefully that pays dividends for him.

On breakout players:
Ricky Seale and Barry Sanders had really good springs and showed they’re getting ready to contribute. Tyler Gaffney and Michael Rector made huge plays every day. Evan Crower has the trust of his teammates and the coaching staff. He’s in a tough position, as I say to him, ‘Don’t break a shoelace,’ because if anything happened to Kevin, we would feel great about him playing the rest of the game.

On right guard:
It’s Kevin Danser unless he wins the center position. It’s hard because so many guys are so good and are deserving of attention. So if he doesn’t win, he’ll be right guard. If he’s center, then it’ll be right guard between Khalil Wilkes, Josh Garnett and Johnny Caspers has had a great spring also.

On the cornerback position opposite Alex Carter:
Wayne Lyons, Barry Browning and Usua Amanam will rotate out there also. Devon Carrington will rotate at safety and cornerback also. That’s great because there’s been no changing of the system over the years, so he can rotate. That helps with communication, so now we can get communication going both ways. I’m not worried who the starter is. I hope as a group they play extremely well.

On the punter:
We’ll see. We’ll go through training camp as always. [Ben Rhyne and Conrad Ukropina are vying for the position.]

On defensive improvement for this year:
The biggest thing is pass coverage. Arizona, Washington State were moving very well, very effectively. We can always get better against different types of spread offenses. Those are probably the big things. …

I hope that the secondary is sound in coverage, because then we can get after the run and get after the quarterback. If we have to take care of the secondary, we have to take pressure off the passer, but [I hope] we can get pressure and sound coverage.

On returning all the defensive coaches:
We have no new defensive coaches, but also no new starters. We have two open spots in the whole defense, and lots of guys are backed up by guys who have played also. Both outside linebackers [Blake Lueders or James Vaughters is expected to start opposite Trent Murphy] have experience, and that’s not listing 90 [Josh Mauro] as a starter. We’ve had a consistent coaching staff and a lot of guys coming back.

[Comment: This is the inverse of the “I’d be happy with more competition at wide receiver” comment, and then some. Shaw, a quiet guy, goes out of his way to talk up his defense, when the norm is to play down expectations, a la Sonny Dykes. Overall, my take coming out of today is that the conventional wisdom is spot on. It would have been nice to hear more consistent praise of any single player, but instead it’s receiver by committee as the offense is still searching for a wideout to emerge. Arrow down there.

Still, with a backloaded schedule and a defense that the comments are suggesting could be the best Stanford has ever fielded, the team has a good two months to identify its playmakers, and I think the squad may be underrated at 20:1 to win it all.]

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