That theme carried over to the first full-contact scrimmage of 2013
fall camp, where Kevin Hogan's unit did deliver jabs of
effectiveness, but never fully got the upper hand against Trent Murphy and company.
"Early on, the defense is always a little bit ahead," David Shaw
said. "The hard part for us is that it may be that way for a while.
But it was nice to see guys flying around and making tackles."
Still, Anthony Wilkerson and Tyler Gaffney both managed to break
open a pair of big runs on the day, despite hounding performances
from nose tackle David Parry and resurgent linebacker Shayne Skov,
both of whom have grabbed most of the defensive praise so far this
"It's just so great to see Shayne back healthy," Shaw said. "He can
now do what he was trying to do in his mind last year [when still
recovering from 2011's severe knee injury]."
Expect Five Running Backs - And Sanders?
For the first time, Shaw gave a firm number of how many Stanford
backs can expect to see action during meaningful game time this
"We're going to play, for the most part, five backs in just about
every game," he said. "Whoever the third back [behind Wilkerson and
Gaffney] is might depend on what the play call is. Barry Sanders is
going to have a role. Ricky Seale is going to have a role. Remound Wright is going to have a role. It's all situation."
For the record, that's the first time Shaw has explicitly said that
Sanders will see significant action. Those
should be welcome words for fans who have clamoring to see the NFL
legend's son in meaningful action on the Farm. It should also be
noted that Jackson Cummings, yet another backfield option, has received praise
during the past week.
A Boost for Cajuste
The Stanford staff has frequently mentioned that Devon Cajuste and
Ty Montgomery are the two leaders at the wide receiver position, and
Shaw went a step further toward clearing the picture at the position
"[Cajuste] has secured himself as our starting 'X' receiver right
now," he said.
The junior's exceptional run blocking throughout the stretch run of
the 2012 season certainly put him in excellent position, and it's
now fortified his spot atop a busy pecking order on the perimeter.
While Michael Rector, Kelsey Young, and Kodi Whitfield appear
destined for significant action, a former fifth round MLB draft pick
has entered the serious conversation as well.
"Jordan Pratt just continues to impress," Shaw said. "He makes big
plays down the field. He's still growing and learning after those
years playing baseball. He does so many things naturally, but there
are so many muscle memory things that he's getting back to."
Shaw reaffirmed that it's "absolutely" possible that up to six wide
receivers will see significant playing time for Stanford.
"That's what I love about where we are now, because we have a lot of
guys that we think can play," he said. "I love our mentality right
now, when Ty [Montgomery] comes off the field, and Kelsey [Young]
goes on. Ty is cheering for Kelsey. Guys aren't combative and trying
to steal reps from each other. Guys are cheering for each other
because they know it's going to take all of us to win a game."
The receiver room may be relatively unproven, but it sure is
crowded. Sophomore Conner Crane and freshman Francis Owusu are among
the other names that also include senior Jeff Trojan, who remains
dependable after a productive spring.
"He's been consistent," Shaw said. "All the way through spring and
through training camp, Jeff Trojan has been that guy that lines up
everywhere, knows what to do, and catches every ball."
Hayes on the Defensive Line
Defensive tackle Anthony Hayes opened eyes with some productive
play this past spring, but he'd been noticeably absent from the fall camp
conversation until Saturday afternoon.
"He started training camp off really slow," Shaw explained. "But at
the end of yesterday and today, he made a couple of plays. And there's
room for at least two more guys to get into [the defensive line]
The Stanford staff counts Parry, Henry Anderson, Ben Gardner, and
Josh Mauro as automatics up front. The rest of the slots are up for
grabs, and Shaw named Hayes, Aziz Shittu, and Ikenna Nwafor as the
top candidates. Defensive coordinator Derek Mason has deemed Nwafor
"ready," while Shittu saw meaningful time in 2012 after he told
coaches that he would rather not redshirt following week four. That means Hayes still has a fight for playing time in front of him.
By all accounts, sophomores Jordan Watkins and Nate Lohn are still a
step behind the rest of the contenders, though one of the two had a
career day at practice Saturday.
"Nate probably had his best day as a Stanford Cardinal today," Shaw
smiled. "He used his hands, got into the backfield, and got some
tackles for loss."
The center competition between Conor McFadden, Kevin Danser, and
Khalil Wilkes is still in a deadlock.
"I would love for there to be some movement there," Shaw said.
"We’re going to keep rotating guys through and I’d imagine it will
be another week before we have a clear-cut leader. They’re all doing
well; I just need someone to do great.”
Meanwhile, Danser had some complimentary words for McFadden, one of
his competitors, in
an interview with The Bootleg Radio.
"He knows the playbook as well as the quarterbacks," Danser said.
"Hell, he may know the playbook better than some of the
Shaw on the Mackey Award
The John Mackey Award, the honor that's supposed to be given out
annually to college football's most outstanding tight end, squeezed
its way into discussion with Shaw. Unlike Zach Ertz in 2012,
sophomore Luke Kaumatule is on the preseason watch list for the
award, so a reporter wanted to hear the coach's thoughts on the honor.
An objective look at statistical production suggests that Stanford's
representative was robbed of the award last year, so it certainly
wasn't Shaw's favorite point of discussion.
"We're still 0-for-the-Mackey," he said. "So I take [the preseason
watch list] with a grain of salt. Don't get me started on that."
Stanford, by the way, has nine tight ends on its 2013 roster.
"That's more than most schools," a reporter observed.
"That's more than most conferences," Shaw laughed.
Bangs, Bruises, and Notes
** Cajuste and defensive end Ben Gardner are both "banged up."
Shaw said that their bruises are a normal part of early training
camp contact and that they should both be back in action soon. Both
players will be re-evaluated tomorrow morning.
** Stanford's No. 4 preseason ranking in the AP poll is its highest
ever. As expected, senior linebacker Trent Murphy shrugged it off.
"While it's nice to have a favorable ranking, that's something that
the media and the fans pay attention to more than us."
** Shaw said that linebacker A.J. Tarpley and safety Ed Reynolds "have
the best feel for the game of football of guys that we've been
around since we've been here."
** None of the freshmen have stood out since pads have come on.
Meanwhile, new quarterback Ryan Burns is working to process the
Stanford offense. "There's a lot going on between his ears right
now," Shaw said.
David Lombardi is the Stanford
Insider for The Bootleg. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com
and follow him on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.
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