“Each game, I have to take carefully. Starting with UC Davis, go hard each game. It seems like it flew by, my fifth summer.”
On a defensive breakout player:
“It’s hard to say right now. We’ve only had summer. I can try to give you an eval from winter and spring, but now the freshmen are in, and that can really change the dynamic. We have to bring them along, so it’s hard to say, but during training camp, we’ll figure it out. It doesn’t really matter, we’ll have to play eventually."
We ask what he’s learned over his four years at the Farm:
“It’s a little different knowing it’s your last year, last camp, last summer workouts. It’s gone by, five years at Stanford, knowing that there’s days it’s so fast and days it’s so slow. All I want to do is get out each and every day and never want to lose that hunger"
On continued improvement:
“Every year, we either lose two seconds or gain 10 yards on our times. I’m trying to beat my goals and get higher and higher.”
The Bootleg asks who’s the strongest player in workouts, and
gets an almost instantaneous answer:
“David Parry is the strongest guy on the team.”
On finding new defensive leaders:
”We don’t want to change too much or force anything. Production-wise it’ll be filled. We lose Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov,s so we need production from other guys. We have leaders who are leaders now, whether it’s Ty Montgomery, Jordan Richards or Henry Anderson, you become that through your whole career. It’s a responsibility because of what you’ve done, how you carried yourself through the year."
“You tweak some things, who leads the breakdowns. Teams change, and you’re going to have to replicate what you’re good at.”
On being overshadowed:
“It doesn’t bother me. The culture we have is we get made fun of the more media attention we get. I can’t control that I don’t get that doing the same thing as other guys. I’ve never done well with taking comparisons.”
We ask about his academic life:
“I’m in one class in fall of my fifth year because I can take only that class. … I’m majoring in STS: science, technology and society. I worked for Bank of America and Merrill Lynch over the summer. I worked with Blake Leuders on tech research for tech companies, putting together PowerPoints or Excel. Investment banking intrigues me, but I have the goal of playing in the NFL first and foremost.
”I realize any sport can end any day and you have to have a direction and a plan. What I want to do, my ultimate dream job, is to manage a pro team in any sport, to try to build a team.”
On the annual projections that Stanford football can’t replace
“It’s hunger that guys have. When you talk about what guys do or don’t get attention, all it does is bring everyone closer to work to quiet everyone down. They talk about Toby, Harbaugh, Andrew, now all the guys from last year leaving, we like to prove people wrong. It seems like it was a flawless transition to keep up the standard and go to a BCS game [each prior year]. We came through this offseason with the same hunger, almost hungrier.”
On how tough the schedule is:
“It would be if it weren’t the same. Every year we’ve played a tough schedule. It comes with the territory. You know when you sign to Stanford to play at Stanford you’re going to have this schedule. So we’ll give it a shot. We know there are going to be tough games, but every game is a tough game and we’ll never be looking forward past any game.”
I point out that the balance in power between offense and defense at Stanford has shifted back and forth over Tarpley’s career. Under Luck, the offense carried the team, but over the past two seasons, it has been the defense’s turn. I ask who has the upper hand so far in this year’s tug of war. Ty Montgomery perks up to hear this answer, but Tarpley plays it cool:
“There’s a little bit of everything. The defense started to fire off at training camp [in recent years. After being subject to] Andrew Luck and the offense -- all the defensive guys were trying to lead it. This year now, with the wide receivers and those guys, there’s a ton on offense and they’re trying to take it back. There’s always a little trash talk. …
“This year, what will happen it’s hard to tell, hard to tell, because those guys on offense go as hard as ever and take it personally. Ty’s ready as ever, they want the offense to be the strongest, and we do not want to take a backseat to them, so it fuels each other. This year, it should be an especially good time competing, and we’ll find success that way.”
On whether he covered wide receivers at practice:
“I played almost inside Mike, so the DBs covered the wide receivers in terms of our offense. But our guys every year continue to evolve, so it’s the same identification, but also you have to [make plays off] the options in front of you.”
On replacing the big losses up front:
“When we get to college football, it’s what you do with pads on that determines whether you’re successful or not. The product has been constant I think. … Henry Anderson and David Parry can be the best two defensive linemen we’ve had at Stanford. I watched Sione Fua, and Ben Gardner and Josh Mauro are good friends, and I have the most respect for them. But [Anderson and Perry] both have high ceilings and are as hungry as ever. They’ll continue the tradition of our front seven and will make sure we appreciate, as in the past, those defensive linemen there.”
We ask what he’s learned over the course of his Stanford
“It’s urgency, and that’s something that, even if you think you know, you won’t understand until you’re a senior. You can’t get it until you’re going through it. As a freshman, you can come in with the best mentality, but you don’t fully understand how necessary each workout is. You can’t miss one, you can’t do this, because it builds on itself. I’ve learned through my whole time here to treat every day like the last workout and have that sense of urgency.”
“I’m on my fourth defensive coordinator and fourth position coach in five years, so the nice thing is that the scheme is relatively the same. There are tweaks, but not to the scheme and the names, so it’s been nice to have multiple coordinators. As far as Coach Anderson himself goes, he’s very articulate. When Coach Anderson draws up what to do, he is very direct. You can tell he’s ready to uphold the standard and he’s created his goals high as ours.”
On potential breakout players:
“I’m going to have to go with David Parry and Ricky Seale. Ricky is a guy who, in terms of running backs, is a fifth-year guy who has not played as much as other guys and no is one talking about, but has always worked hard. He does bring another dimension. He wants to run. We do have a committee of backs, so it’s a change-up. Those guys give 100 percent every play, they don’t worry about having 40 snaps, but they can go as hard as possible. Given the opportunity, he can make electrifying plays, he can be a big-play type of guy.
“David Parry is a two-and-a-half, third-year starter. He was battling injuries this past year and hasn’t played at 100 percent yet. He’s the strongest guy on our team and is very driven and hard-working to prove people wrong. Where everything starts for us is right there. The nose tackle starts the play for the defense against the run and against the pass, and if he can win his matchup, it’s a lot easier, if he can stay healthy, have a 90 percent, 100 percent healthy year.”
I asked both Montgomery and Tarpley about a potential player
stipend, and both gave a measured response. I know there is
debate around the topic, but it struck me that, the only folks
not getting paid amidst a room of 50ish journalists and
administrators were the six student-athletes we all came to talk
to. Here’s Tarpley’s answer:
“I think there will be changes and they will be necessary, but I don’t know enough about how it’ll be solved, and it won’t be solved until after my time here. You hope for the best for everyone. Changes need to be made, but I’m not exactly sure of what they are.”
On whether the team underachieved last year, as Jordan
Richards had said:
“I think we did. We won the conference and lost the Rose Bowl. Our goal every year is to be the best that we can. In the past that was to win the conference, but you go to a whole different side with the college football playoff. The Pac-12 is one of the toughest conferences top to bottom and everyone seems to think the winner will have a spot. As far as us, if we go 1-0 every week, it’ll take care of itself in the end. In terms of achieving, with the talent we’ve had the past 3-4 years, it’s elite talent, so it’s shoot for the top in anything.”
Tarpley implies that the goal is a national championship. His point about the new playoff structure is that in the past, a conference champion Cardinal might not have made the BCS title game, theoretically even if undefeated. Thus, the goal was simply to win the conference, since that was all that was fully within Stanford’s control. Now though, as the conference-champion Cardinal should make the national champion playoff, the goal is to make that playoff and win it, since it is now within Stanford’s control.
Can’t wait to kick it off and watch Stanford chase that national title. Thanks for reading these Media Day interviews.
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