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Spring Practice Primer: Stanford

Posted on: February 21, 2011 5:28 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 6:03 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers. Today, we look at Stanford, which begins spring practice this afternoon.

Spring practice question: Can the Cardinal keep up the momentum under new coach David Shaw?

Fresh off the best season in school history - punctuated by a 40-12 dismantling of Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl - Stanford’s offseason was filled with something rarely associated with the program: drama. After a week of will-he-or-won’t-he declare for the draft, presumed number one pick Andrew Luck stunned everyone by announcing he would stay in school. A day later, after being courted by Michigan and the Miami Dolphins, head coach Jim Harbaugh left for the San Francisco 49ers.

When hiring a new head coach was only the third most interesting thing to happen on campus during the offseason, you realize just how far Stanford football came under Harbaugh. Trying to continue what he build up is Stanford alum David Shaw, who slides into the head coaching role after being the Cardinal's offensive coordinator the past four years.

What’s his deal? For all the talk about Luck's role in the offense, Shaw is a believer in a balanced offense for one. Despite not having Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart last season, Stanford still finished second in the Pac-10 in rushing at 214 yards per game. Though most of the backfield returns in 2011, the major storyline of spring practice is finding replacements for three starters on the offensive line, including All-American center Chase Beeler.

“From a personnel standpoint, we have a chance to be very athletic upfront,” Shaw said at his pre-spring press conference. “The question is will those guys be consistent and will they play at the same level as those who they are replacing from last year. Ability-wise, we'll be fine. This spring we'll see who is ready to step up and fill those roles. A lot of our success will depend on how we play upfront.”

Offensive line isn’t the only area of concern for the first time head coach. There are still open position battles at linebacker, defensive line, cornerback and backup quarterback. The Cardinal might need five players just to replace all-everything Owen Marecic.

“The best thing about spring practice is the pure competition,” Shaw said. “We have guys coming back who played well for us last year but will be pushed by others ready to make their marks. We've recruited very well the last couple of years and we have a lot of players who are ready to compete and fill some roles.

“The next year is always different - different players, different roles, different schemes. You always have to add, delete and change. That's where we are at right now.”

The first week or two of spring practice will be a bit of a learning experience for the new staff. Shaw named former New York Jets assistant Mike Bloomgren as offensive line coach/run game coordinator and elevated Mike Sanford to running backs coach last Friday. Bringing on coaches just four days before spring practice starts isn't ideal and is something to keep an eye on but staff continuity elsewhere should help ease the transition.

Defensively, Derek Mason and Jason Tarver will share the defensive coordinator title and attempt to fill the shoes of the highly regarded Vic Fangio. Mason will also coach the secondary and will be responsible for calling plays, while Tarver will also serve as linebackers coach.

The return of Luck, however, is key for building on the success of last year. Shaw shouldn't have too much trouble keeping Stanford’s offense from dipping too much from last year’s unit that set a school-record for points scored and finished ninth in the nation in scoring. Having the Heisman Trophy front-runner under center tends to help but running backs Stepfan Taylor, Anthony Wilkerson and others will also contribute. 

“With Andrew coming back, I've felt pretty good going to bed at night,” Shaw said. “I think he is comfortable with me in my role and I'm extremely comfortable with him. We have an established relationship that will only get better.”

With a manageable schedule (Oregon and Notre Dame at home to go along with just four road games) and lots of talent surrounding a future number one pick in the NFL Draft, Shaw could not have asked for a better situation to take over. With a little bit of Luck and a dash of good coaching, don’t expect a drop off from Stanford after using David Shaw's first spring practice to ease the transition from Jim Harbaugh.


Since: Jan 6, 2008
Posted on: March 18, 2011 6:41 am

Spring Practice Primer: Stanford

Clearly you have no college degree.  Please learn to spell 'architecture' the next time you try to be witty about it. 

Since: Sep 1, 2008
Posted on: February 22, 2011 8:56 pm

Spring Practice Primer: Stanford

I actually think Stanford would have been better than Oregon this year had the recruited better. But then again those are only Freshman.  Stanford my actually be the team to beat by the time conference play starts if Oregon doesn't get past LSU.

Since: Feb 27, 2008
Posted on: February 22, 2011 8:03 pm

Spring Practice Primer: Stanford

Having Oregon on your schedule instantly makes it unmanageable.  Stanford will be good, but they'll drop 2 or 3.  They can make the Rose if the ducks go the natty again, or if they beat Oregon head to head.  Should be a great game.  I personally expect the same result but who knows for sure.

Since: May 16, 2007
Posted on: February 22, 2011 1:45 pm

Spring Practice Primer: Stanford

I think this is a bad move for Andrew Luck to stay @ Stanford since 3 of the starting o-line is leaving. Can you say ' Sam Bradford "? Look what happened to him after staying around for another season and waving bye bye to his o-line, injury! It seemed to turn out pretty good for him since he got an NFL contract but most others don't.

Since: Jun 10, 2008
Posted on: February 22, 2011 1:43 pm

Spring Practice Primer: Stanford

his Luck ran out

Since: Oct 4, 2006
Posted on: February 22, 2011 1:23 pm

Spring Practice Primer: Stanford

I am not a Stanford fan, You can't when one is an USC alumanus, but they were supposed to fall apart when Gearhart left, and they were even better this last season. Of course much has to do w/ Harbaugh, who I also don't care for, but the truth/fact is they are a good program right now w/ good depth. I think there two way guy will be missed the most: he was  a warrior, and they have that ecellent receiving phenom returning after a season of injuries last year.
They were real as witness the VaTech game, and they might have had an excellent defense, but USC exposed them last in year in a loss. The defense will determine how good they are this coming season

Since: Nov 16, 2010
Posted on: February 22, 2011 12:13 pm

Spring Practice Primer: Stanford

Since: Nov 19, 2006
Posted on: February 22, 2011 8:42 am

Spring Practice Primer: Stanford

Stanford made an excellent hire in David Shaw.  The major question will be if Stanford can replace their three lost offensive linemen, and patch up the holes on their defense.  While everyone raves about Andrew Luck, the Stanford defense quietly went about doing it's job last season, giving up 17 or less points in 8 of 13 games.  That fact seems to go unnoticed.  STanford actually has 5 road games, not 4 as stated above, but their non-con schedules includes San Jose and at Duke.  The only rough spot on the road is back to back games at USC and Oregon State.  I look for Stanford to have a very successful season and make them, not Oregon, the favorites in the Pac 12 North.  The major challenge will come next season, when Shaw has to replace Luck.

Since: Sep 1, 2008
Posted on: February 21, 2011 9:39 pm

Spring Practice Primer: Stanford

Stanford has got to be the only school that can get worse the year after a BCS victory while returning a heisman runner up QB. As good as he is people never give credit to the guys who played with when commenting on the team. If a QB was all a team needed to win Arizona would never lose games, Nick Foles is not as tough but he has got some of the most pretty passes I have seen. And guy is insanely accurate the Pac-12 might have 3 top eight draft picks alone from Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley (if he plays all season for once), and Nike Foles (If he playes all season).  Hands down the three best QB's in the nation this year.

I would list OU's QB but I'm not sure if its his talent or his players.

Since: Jan 2, 2009
Posted on: February 21, 2011 7:57 pm

Spring Practice Primer: Stanford


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