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
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
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
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
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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