Garnett lifts Sanders out of the offseason
Stanford practiced for the first time since the Rose Bowl on Monday, and there were plenty of intriguing nuggets that came out of the Cardinal's camp. Here's a full report of the happenings on the first day back including radio interviews with Luke Kaumatule and Graham Shuler.
Learning the Mental Aspect
Luke Kaumatule's eyes widened when he moved from tight end back to
his original defensive line position in the middle of last season.
"I came in with big dreams, trying to come in and just play," he
It didn't quite work out that easily. The six-foot-seven, 267-pound
destroyed offenses from the defensive end position in high school,
saw only limited playing time after his position switch.
"At the college level, it's more a mental game," Kaumatule
explained. "Everyone out here is physical. Everyone out here is
violent. Everyone out here is fast. The only thing that sets you
apart is if you know what you're doing, and I didn't know what I was
doing last year."
Stanford will enjoy a big boost if he's more comfortable by the time
the 2014 season kicks off. Monday's first spring practice marked the
beginning of an offseason of work in which the Cardinal aims to
replace 10 starters and reload at several positions, and Kaumatule
is just one of many promising players looking to take the next step
toward consistent productivity. His situation is very much
emblematic of the one that faces a talented roster looking to
progress and sustain the program's unprecedented success.
"This year I'm going to try to memorize everything and be a factor
on this defense," he said. "[As a unit], we definitely have that
hurt and hunger (from the Rose Bowl loss) that we're trying to
fulfill, but we just have to look forward and get better every day."
Position Battle Update: Offensive Line
After players began jockeying for position Monday, David Shaw
revealed where some of Stanford's battles currently stand. In
addition to indicating that Kyle Murphy (right rackle) and Josh
Garnett (left guard) will likely be first-time starters next season,
he also shed light on the fight to replace Kevin Danser at right
guard by establishing Johnny Caspers as the odds-on favorite to
"It's almost a foregone conclusion," Shaw said. "He was really good
last season, but just wasn't in a position to compete with Kevin
Danser yet. But I honestly don't know that anybody is going to pass
The Stanford offensive line is shaping us as projected in our extensive
look at the position earlier this month. The only position
with any significant amount of remaining uncertainty is Khalil
Wilkes' old center spot, but Graham Shuler is the favorite there.
The key for that junior will be adding strength with Shannon Turley
this offseason: Shuler is currently at 286 pounds but told me that
his ideal playing weight would be about 295 pounds.
"I'm working on my strength, my hand placement, my feet," he told
me. "I want to be able to consistently move through people."
Shaw has lauded Shuler for his tremendous athleticism in the past,
and the coach emphasized on Monday that the 2014 offensive line --
which has a chance to be exclusively filled by starters from the
heralded 2012 recruiting class -- has an excellent shot to be
Stanford's most athletic since Jim Harbaugh arrived in 2007.
"It's a monster of a left side," Shaw raved. "[In Peat and Garnett],
you're looking at two guys who should be able to move people. I love
putting those two guys right next to each other. And then you've got
Kyle Murphy who's super athletic right next to Johnny Caspers, who's
very athletic also, with an athletic center."
A new hint also came out regarding Stanford's supplementary line
positions, which include the backfield Ogre (Garnett's role last
year) and the jumbo tight end (Murphy's). The
Cardinal released its 2014 spring roster, and it does not
include Dillon Bonnell, who manned the Ogre fort in 2012 and did
have a fifth year of eligibility remaining. That means the Cardinal
will certainly turn to fresh talent outside of the starting line
"Thomas Oser, Kevin Reihner, Dave Bright," Shuler said. "It's going
to be fun to see those jump around and show off their versatility."
Injury Report; Burns Suspended
A pair of key players are gradually nursing themselves back to
health after Stanford's rigorous 2013 campaign. Receiver Ty Montgomery (knee) and nose tackle David Parry (lower abdominal
injury) will both miss time this spring as they recover from their
maladies. Montgomery is expected to be back in full action during
the second session of spring ball with a brace on his knee. That
brace is expected to come off immediately after the April 12 spring
Parry, meanwhile, has reportedly been able to corral the nagging
issue that has bothered him for several months now. Shaw said that
he'll be "in and out" of spring practice to ensure the proper rest
to fully overcome the injury.
In other news, Shaw announced that quarterback Ryan Burns, who is
expected to make a serious push for the back-up job behind Kevin Hogan, will miss the first session of spring ball because of a
Saturday's 9:30 a.m. open practice will mark the team's next
official media availability. Stanford will not don pads at practice
until later this week. Right now, players are re-acclimating
themselves to the practice field. The offensive line group, in
particular, appears to be chomping at the bit.
"As of right now, the sky is the limit," Shuler said. "We just have
to see how far we can push it. We've been waiting a long time, man.
We're fired up. We've got a lot of great guys. You come in together
with a group like this in that first summer and you have no choice
but to bond."
- Shaw said that Stanford is more likely to employ a running
back by committee approach this season than in years past. The
simple reason: The Cardinal is not equipped with a prototypical
bell cow-type back this year. "We don't have a 220, 215-pound
guy, so it's probably a good idea to rotate these guys in and
out," he said. Remound Wright, Ricky Seale, Barry Sanders, and
Kelsey Young are the lead dogs at the position now. Young has
made a switch from the perimeter.
- Shaw claimed that Stanford's wide receiver corps may be the
deepest in the nation, and it appears that he has a strong case.
Michael Rector and Devon Cajuste (the nation's top dogs in
per-catch average last year) complement All-American Ty
Montgomery. Jordan Pratt and Jeff Trojan have also made key
contributions, while Francis Owusu's ceiling "is as high as it
- Stanford has yet to announce its new defensive backs coach,
though former Texas assistant Duane Akina has reportedly
been offered the position. The Cardinal is comfortable
letting graduate assistant Marc Mattioli work with the team's
defensive backs for the time being. Shaw's father, Willie (a
retired DB coach), was also in attendance at practice Monday. He
watched converted safeties Dallas Lloyd and Kodi Whitfield for
five minutes before telling his son that "those two guys look
natural" at their new positions. "I trust his eyes as much as
anybody on the planet," David Shaw said.
- Defensive end Aziz Shittu has emerged as a vocal leader of
Stanford's defensive line group. "He comes out with an
enthusiasm and motivates me all the time," Kaumatule said. "He's
always laughing. Times can be rough, but that guy always has a
smile on his face. He's ready to grind."
- Fifth year senior Blake Lueders, the only remaining Stanford
player to have seen action under Harbaugh, leads in a different
fashion. "Lueders just comes out hard-headed," Kaumatule smiled.
"He leads by example. He's probably got the hardest head on the
- Defensive line coach Randy Hart's message to the Stanford team
on the first morning of spring practice: "It's better to be
ripped than to be praised."
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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