Change is in the air during the first session of Stanford
practice. Joe Hemschoot
has shifted back to inside linebacker.
is now the clear-cut leader for the open center
position. Wayne Lyons
is the frontrunner at nickel back. Kyle Olugbode
is getting the early repetitions at free safety.
The forecast called for dreary skies during the first public look at
the Cardinal's 2014 offseason developments, but sunshine and even a
rainbow ultimately smiled down on them instead. Following the
departure of 10 starters, the Farm Boys are in the midst an arduous
reloading phase. Some of the resulting shifts have been predictable,
others not as much -- just like Saturday morning's weather, which
featured a gust of wind that blew over a temporary tent and sent
jogging over to help pick it up.
"The energy, the competition, the fire was there," Shaw said after
practice. "But it wasn't clean by any stretch of the imagination."
completed 3 of 5 passes, but those two incompletions
also happened to be interceptions (including a one-handed A.J. Tarpley
pick six), while Stanford suffered through a pair of fumbles on the
center-quarterback exchange. The polish clearly isn't there yet, but
the intrigue certainly is as the Cardinal's coaching staff searches
to discover the precise formula that will maximize 2014 winning
LT - Andrus Peat
LG - Joshua Garnett
C - Graham Shuler
RG - Johnny Caspers
RT - Kyle Murphy
Stanford seems to have reached a consensus regarding its five top
offensive linemen. Five days after indicating that Josh Garnett,
Johnny Caspers, and Kyle Murphy are all in position to assume top
spots with Andrus Peat along the 2014 front, Shaw indicated that
Graham Shuler is the favorite to grab the open center position.
"We're putting pressure on Graham," he said. "He has all the ability
in the world. He needs experience. We've got to get him ready to go.
He has a chance to be extremely good."
Shuler's athleticism has excited Stanford's staff for two years now.
He spoke of his
offseason strengthening goals this past week
, but establishing
a firm rapport with Hogan is priority number one for now. Shaw said
that the fumbled snaps were likely a result of the ball coming in
lower and faster to the quarterback on snaps than it had from
previous centers Sam Schwartzstein
and Khalil Wilkes
"It's on the quarterback to adjust," Shaw said. "It takes some time,
but then again, spring practice is already a fourth of the way
There was palpable enthusiasm about the massive left side of
Stanford's offensive line. Shaw mentioned that Garnett has taken
over the role of vocal leader up front. Perhaps the most spirited
back-and-forth battle of the day came between Peat and fellow junior
defensive end Luke Kaumatule
. The two six-foot-seven physical
specimens exchanged victories on consecutive plays in a match-up
packed with power.
Among the reserves, youngster Dave Bright
showcased his developing
six-foot-five, 293-pound strength with a handful of impressive
moments in early drills, including one that featured a clean
knockdown of Johnny Caspers. Thomas Oser
also looks to have worked
his way into solid initial shape with a summer of critical
strengthening looming. Shannon Turley's
system is designed
to break linemen down to excellent condition in
their first season on The Farm before adding productive bulk in
the second offseason.
manned the center position for the second team while
Oser, Bright, Brendon Austin
, and Nick Davidson
different line positions for that unit. Stanford is dressing only 11
linemen for spring practice, a situation the program hopes fosters
versatility among the big boys up front.
The way Remound Wright
explained the art of running back pass
protection made it seem especially challenging.
"Embrace the fact that you're about to hit somebody who outweighs
you by 50 pounds and has a five yard head start," he told me.
Thanks to his hard work in that regard, Wright seems to be
Stanford's early leader in the backfield. A handful of productive
runs on Saturday also certainly helped establish Wright's presence
in the running back race.
"[He's] been very steady," Shaw said. "He's made good decisions.
He's been the best of the group as a pass protector."
Learning that facet of the position will be an important challenge
to conquer for Kelsey Young
, who enjoyed a solid gain to the outside
in his first open practice as a standard running back. Meanwhile,
the two other Stanford contenders at the position drew praise for
their explosive potential in the open field.
and Ricky Seale
are special in space," Shaw said.
"Those two guys can really do something special with the ball in
While many Stanford players engaged in full contact drills on
one half of the field, the Cardinal's quarterbacks and receivers
worked hard to establish aerial timing on the other end. Hogan and
his receiving crew seemed to focus on sharpening
short-to-intermediate routes with defensive backs playing
passing league-style coverage.
When the act moved to the full live scrimmage, sophomore tight end
represented perhaps the most striking addition to the
Cardinal's arsenal. The six-foot-six, 242-pounder saw considerable
action with the first team. Stanford obviously values Cotton's big
frame, long strides, and potential to reinvigorate the receiving
production of the tight end position. He'll be expected to add more
upper body strength this offseason, but spring ball seems to have
gotten off to a good start for No. 80.
Fellow sophomore tight end Greg Taboada
caught the day's only
touchdown pass from Evan Crower
, while Austin Hooper
because of a mandatory academic field trip. Stanford's wide receiver
corps stayed intact. Last Monday, Shaw noted that the unit might be
the deepest in the nation.
DE - Henry Anderson
DT - Aziz Shittu
DE - Blake Lueders
DE - Luke Kaumatule
DT - Lance Callihan
DE - Jordan Watkins
*Nate Lohn and J.B. Salem also saw action
With David Parry
out and Ikenna Nwafor still in a walking boot, Aziz
Shittu earned first team action as Stanford's defensive tackle. He's
traditionally played at end for the Cardinal, but given the move of
Kaumatule and Blake Lueders to that position, it's possible that the
slightly shorter and stockier Shittu (six-foot-three, 280 pounds)
can earn more playing time this coming year if he demonstrates
versatility along the defensive line.
OLB - Kevin Anderson
ILB - AJ Tarpley
ILB - Blake Martinez/Joe Hemschoot
OLB - James Vaughters
OLB - Peter Kalambayi/Mike Tyler
ILB - Noor Davis
ILB - Kevin Palma
OLB - Sam Shober
Joe Hemschoot started his Stanford career as an inside linebacker
before shifting to the outside last year, where he also worked into
the role of Stanford's "big nickel back." Just a few days after the
Cardinal announced that Hemschoot would permanently be sticking to
his role on the outside, though, the senior was back in the fray at
AJ Tarpley's starting spot is obviously secured, but Shaw noted
Hemschoot will be competing with Blake Martinez and Noor Davis for
the opening alongside No. 17 on the inside. A bulked-up Kevin Palma
also saw action with the second team defense on Saturday.
Kevin Anderson and James Vaughters appear to have a lock on the
starting outside spots, but youngsters Peter Kalambayi and Mike
Tyler both played well on Saturday. Tyler, in particular, caught
some attention with a nifty spin move on his way to the quarterback
during pass rush drills. He appears to have solid instincts while
working to pursue the quarterback, and that echoes praise Lance
Anderson showered on him last Fall.
Cornerback Alex Carter
will miss all of spring practice with a
lower body injury.
"He finished the season with something, and it's kind of come back,"
Shaw said. "We're just going to be overly cautious. It's a lower
body deal, not a broken bone, not tendons, it's muscular."
The door is wide open for Stanford to experiment with shifts in the
secondary, and the Cardinal is doing just that under graduate
assistant Marc Mattioli (Shaw has yet to announce the hiring of a
defensive backs coach to replace Derek Mason
). In an interesting
twist, cornerback Wayne Lyons shifted to Usua Amanam's old nickel
back spot, leaving Ronnie Harris
and Ra'Chard Pippens on the
"Wayne's got the edge at nickel back," Shaw said. "We're going to
move [Lyons and Harris] around."
Presumably, Stanford plans on shifting Lyons to that nickel back
spot -- where a more physically imposing presence is preferred --
whenever the opposition inserts an extra wide receiver. Shaw
expressed satisfaction with Harris' play at cornerback, and that
steadiness has apparently encouraged the Cardinal to be more liberal
in its use of Lyons.
Development of the free safety position opposite Jordan Richards
in its early stages. Converts Kodi Whitfield
and Dallas Lloyd
much of practice defending passing drills while senior Kyle Olugbode
(one interception), listed as a strong safety, actually saw the bulk
of the first team free safety action.
"Our defense has done a great job of baiting [our offense] into
mistakes," Shaw said.
- Shaw briefly discussed the controversial new 10-second rule that's
been proposed for college football, which would presumably force
some of the game's relatively new high-octane offenses to slow down
in between plays. "I personally don't care," he said. "We've trained
our guys on defense to get their butts back and to get lined up and
- Shaw had another thought regarding the new, faster nature of
college football. When it comes to match-ups, he thinks Stanford may
be benefiting from its continued focus on power football: "I think
there's something to that. I think the way people recruit, the way
people coach, the way they spend their entire offseasons and entire
training camps going against their own offenses, the way play four
spread teams in a row.... Then they play against us, we're putting
nine offensive linemen on the field. It's a whole different world,
and I don't mind being the outlier."
- David Yankey, Trent Murphy
, Cam Fleming, Sam Schwartzstein, Jarek Lancaster
, and Owen Marecic were among the former Stanford players
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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This 2014 offseason may be filled with plentiful question marks for Stanford football, but the first open spring practice shed some early light on the Cardinal's approach moving forward. Here's our thorough report of Saturday's action, which featured the emergence of some young talent.
Clear leaders have emerged at some Stanford positions. Here's the full first open practice report.