As Stanford Football moved Tuesday through their second day of training camp
and the last day without any pads as part of the NCAA-mandated five-day
acclimatization period, there were still many more questions left lingering than
were answered. However, it was obvious that the success shifted relative
to what we saw on the field in the camp opener on Monday. Whereas the
first day saw a sharp offense that threw the ball with surprising precision,
Tuesday saw ballcarriers romping the other direction.
Touchdown dances by defenders were the name of the game on Day Two of this
camp, as balls were picked off left and right by hungry and opportunistic
linebackers and defensive backs. Wopamo Osaisai made a quick break and
darted in front of a receiver to snare one pass and take it to the house.
Fellow cornerback Nick Sanchez took one out of the air in stride and had an easy
"pick six." Outside linebacker Udeme Udofia made a rare interception in
coverage and was so excited after the endzone celebration that he had to be
called back onto the field to continue the first unit defense's series.
"It's wonderful," says head coach and offensive coordinator Walt Harris,
putting on his defensive cap for a moment. "We had an exceptional day
getting the ball turned over by the defense, and a stinking day turning the ball
over on offense. All the quarterbacks were chasing the ball."
"I don't think it was all the quarterbacks," Harris continues. "Some of
that was new plays. Some of that was the volume of plays. Some of it
was that we didn't catch it very cleanly. The passing game usually takes a
while to get going. That's why when we practice when we are off, like a
bye week, after we come back we throw before anything. That can go south
Two of the errant throws came off the arm of fifth-year senior Trent Edwards,
who went through all three full scrimmages of spring football without an
interception and last fall had his best ever season with a better than 2:1 ratio
of touchdowns to interceptions. His down day this early in camp is a
reminder that the rust after being out of official practices for several months
can be considerable, even for the best signal callers.
"Trent, I think that he is relatively sharp," Harris offers. "I think
that we are doing some new and different things at times, and he's learning it.
I think that the defense does some things that makes it really difficult.
And I think he made some bad decisions."
Harris points out that one of the proudest accomplishments of the Stanford
team last year, his first on The Farm, was their proficiency in protecting the
ball on offense and forcing turnovers on defense. Going into eighth game
of the 2005 season, Stanford ranked #5 in the nation in turnover ratio.
"It's hard to believe. In the nation," Harris emphasizes.
"But it wasn't by accident. We stress it."
"We had enough for the season today," the Cardinal coach declares.
One component of the passing game's imperfection early in camp is certainly
due to the stable of green wide receivers. Stanford has six wideouts in
this freshman class, five of whom were signed in February and are on
scholarship. Not all five, and maybe not even three or four will stay on
offense by the end of this year. But for now, there is a steep learning
curve for an unnervingly disproportionate part of the Cardinal receiving corps.
As exciting as the prospect of welcoming so many different receivers to the
offense may be for fans, it is not what the coaches would have preferred.
"We have never been in that bad of shape receiver-wise any place that I have
been, where we have had to recruit that many to try and balance our classes
out," Harris says. "But we're excited to have all of them. We
need everybody to help us at this point."
The evaluation and sorting of these freshman wide receivers ought to be one
of the big stories of this 2006 fall camp. Watching five (or six) brand
new wideouts for the first time on your practice field is an awesome task for
Walt Harris and receivers coach Tucker Waugh. As luck would have it,
however, there are fewer places to put their eyes. Both Marcus Rance and
Mark Mueller started camp injured, off away from the action in yellow jerseys.
Among the scholarship receivers, that leaves just Richard Sherman, Stephen Carr
and Austin Yancy to watch - a manageable number for sure.
But after two days, Harris has little to say yet on the healthy trio.
The conditions of practicing sans pads leaves him unconvinced of anything
to this point.
"You can learn a little bit, but until they get out of the shorts, into the
pads and people start banging and knocking the you-know-what out of them, I
don't think you can really know," the coach comments. "There are a lot of
what people refer to as 'Sweatsuit All-Americans' who you can't find them as
soon as the pads come on. It's a little early yet."
More News & Notes
- We first heard that fifth-year senior center Tim Mattran would have the
bone scan and potentially a new diagnosis on Tuesday. That was
miscommunicated, and in fact the test and evaluation will come Thursday for
the injured starting center.
- Curious about who is running second team at center, now that redshirt
junior Preston Clover has moved up to the first unit? Classmate Mikal Brewer is the man in the middle through the first two days on the second
string offensive line.
- Speaking of interior line depth charts, it may interest Cardinalmaniacs™
that highly touted freshman Sione Fua is working at nose tackle thus far in
camp. If he sticks at that position, rather than playing defensive end,
he could quickly join redshirt freshman James McGillicuddy in battling
redshirt junior Mike Macellari for the #2 spot in the middle of Stanford's
defensive line, behind redshirt freshman and starter Ekom Udofia. Fua
looks physically ready, and though battles are not yet in pads, he looks like
he also knows how to use his hands.
- Redshirt sophomore Austin Gunder was moved on the eve of training camp
back to his old position of tight end, where he spent his first two years
before being switched this past winter to outside linebacker.
- Redshirt freshman Tom McAndrew, who nearly severed his toe in an off-field
accident at the beginning of the summer, has been on the sideline both days of
camp, wearing a normal shoe and not any kind of special boot. It is a
positive sign that he looks surprisingly normal when walking. Though he
is out of action for potentially an extended time, McAndrew is taking a vocal
role on the sideline to help make calls and to encourage his defensive
- Frosh linebackers Nick Macaluso and Sam Weinberger are both playing inside
linebacker. We were not completely sure where within the linebacking
corps they would be situated at Stanford. With the move of redshirt
junior Peter Griffin to outside linebacker, these two could be one injury away
from the two-deep in the middle of the Cardinal defense.
- When the first string Stanford offense went to a three-wide formation on
Tuesday during some 11-on-11 work, it was redshirt junior Mike Miller who
joined starters Evan Moore and Mark Bradford.
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