Questions On The Defensive Line
Stanford's damaged defensive line has taken another hit. Tackle David Parry was unable to finish practice Tuesday because of a "lower abdominal issue," and David Shaw said that he wasn't yet certain of the Iowan's status for Saturday's game at Utah.
Upcoming Parry updates are significant because Henry Anderson and Ikenna Nwafor, two other Stanford defensive linemen, are currently sidelined with leg injuries. Since Nwafor is Parry's back-up at the nose tackle position, the Cardinal would need to resort to a third-stringer if No. 58 is unavailable. Anthony Hayes, Nate Lohn, and Alex Yazdi are all candidates for time if it does come to that.
Last Saturday, The Bootleg reported that Anderson, who hurt his knee during Stanford's September 14 contest at Army, is off crutches. He's currently on schedule to return by the end of October, while Nwafor is still far away from a potential return. He was spotted on campus with a walking contraption designed for him to take all weight off his injured leg.
Blake Martinez is on a quicker mend. Shaw originally expected his leg injury to shelve him until at least the October 19 homecoming game against UCLA, but the linebacker was back in practice Tuesday and has an excellent shot to be cleared for action before this Saturday's contest in Salt Lake City. Meanwhile, Ben Gardner (arm) and Shayne Skov (knee) both saw limited repetitions in Tuesday's practice, but Shaw expects both of them to be ready for Utah.
Where's No. 85?
Stanford fullback Ryan Hewitt has been conspicuously absent from the Cardinal's passing game. So far this season, he's caught only two passes for three yards. That's a sharp decline from his career-high 2011 production, when he hauled in 34 passes for 282 yards on the season.
"I hope [we can get Ryan re-involved in the passing game]," Shaw said. "We can't dictate coverage. He's one of those guys we try to gameplan for. Sometimes plays get called [for him], sometimes they don't. And sometimes when plays do get called, he's covered."
Washington, which featured the Pac-12's top passing defense, made Kevin Hogan struggle by dropping defenders back into coverage on passing downs. Hewitt's familiar safety valve production out of the backfield, therefore, might have come in handy. Shaw said that Stanford did call a quick play-action pass designed for him in the red zone, but it didn't work.
"I thought he was going to sneak out into the flat and score a touchdown," Shaw said. "But Washington did a great job covering him. Hopefully, we'll get him going at some point in the season."
Some have speculated that Stanford may be saving offensive bullets for UCLA and Oregon. Health is no longer an issue for Hewitt, who bruised his knee during the team's fall camp. He's back at full speed now, as was apparent on his diving cut block to spring Hogan on a 19-yard read option run versus Washington.
Shaw v. Sarkisian
The Bootleg thoroughly documented Shaw's roasting of Washington coach Steve Sarkisian Thursday. Assistant coach Mike Sanford, a former quarterback at Boise State, joined our radio show to explain how such actions have earned Shaw tremendous respect amongst the team's players and coaching staff.
"Knowing that [Shaw] has your best interests and your family's best interests in mind, that makes you want to stay here for a long time," Sanford told the show, which is embedded below.
Shaw's sharp comments went viral within minutes, causing his name to trend nationwide on Twitter. I was curious to know if he checked his account because of the overwhelming amount of traffic it was receiving.
Shaw answered that he only uses the website's direct message feature, which allows him to communicate with people that he knows. He doesn't open the door to the public deluge known as the 'Mentions' page, though.
"I don't look at Twitter," Shaw said. "I don't have time. Going through Twitter for a college football coach is a waste of time."
- Stanford quarterback Dallas Lloyd is the only current Stanford player from the state of Utah (Pleasant Grove). He grew up dreaming of playing against Utah (for BYU) in Rice-Eccles Satdium and is trying to collect as many player tickets from his teammates as possible so that family and friends can attend Saturday's game.
- Wide receiver Ty Montgomery, who has caught 23 passes for 383 yards and five touchdowns already, is on pace to finish with prolific 2013 numbers: 64 catches, 1072 yards, and 14 touchdowns. The single most productive season for a Stanford wide receiver in the Harbaugh-Shaw era came from Doug Baldwin in 2010, when he finished with 58 catches, 857 yards, and nine touchdowns.
- The Cardinal have scripted the first play from scrimmage to Montgomery in consecutive weeks. Against Washington State, Hogan targeted No. 7 on a streak pattern. Against the Huskies, Montgomery ran for 26 yards on the end-around. Now, the Farm Boys must find fourth quarter explosiveness, too. Passing yards in Saturday's final frame: Washington 141, Stanford 0.
- Shaw has officially confirmed that all Stanford's true freshmen save Francis Owusu will redshirt this season. Expect Owusu to see increased offensive playing time on top of his current punt coverage duties as the season progresses. His offensive involvement level in practice is currently at about the same level as Barry Sanders.
Aside from Shaw's strong statement, The Bootleg has confirmed that Stanford did not fake injuries versus Washington. AJ Tarpley made further fun of Sarkisian's notion Tuesday, jokingly suggesting that the Cardinal should have told their third defensive captain Trent Murphy to feign injury and remove himself from the game on top of Ben Gardner and Shayne Skov.
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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