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August 17, 2012Stanford coach David Shaw met with the media after Thursday's practice to discuss the team's upcoming open scrimmage, the state of the linebackers and a couple standout receivers. Shaw also provided updates on some of the injured players.
Scrimmage set for Sunday
Stanford will hold its first full length scrimmage of camp from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. on Sunday. The scrimmage will be open to the public and could play a part in helping Shaw and the team's braintrust decide several key positions battles.
"The clarity is coming but Sunday is going to be big," Shaw said. "That's kind of the exclamation point on a lot of this, and not to say that decisions will be made right after that, but we want to get decisions made sometime early next week so we can get guys settled into their positions and ready for San Jose State."
Shaw said that Stepfan Taylor will likely be held out of the live periods during the scrimmage, but that most of the team's other mainstays should play. In particular, all of the candidates to earn the left tackle and right guard jobs should have a chance to make an impression.
"We have to see left tackle and right guard," Shaw said. "Those are big. You'll probably see three guys play left tackle. We'll see if Andrus will be played with his hand, he should be, but you'll see Andrus Peat, you'll see Kyle Murphy and you'll see Brendon Austin, all three get some time at left tackle.
"(At guard you'll see) Kevin Danser, Khalil Wilkes and you'll see Joshua Garnett.
Inside linebacker continues to flourish
The continued emergence of James Vaughters has helped to solidify Stanford's inside linebackers, which could be among the best units in the conference in 2012.
"The most important thing is that we have depth," Shaw said. "That's the most important thing. For Vaughters to show up like he has been is (great). To know what we have in A.J. Tarpley and Jarek Lancaster, to know that we have Shayne Skov, he should be right on pace to be perfectly healthy right (when he returns against Duke). We have four guys who have played some great football for us and have high ceilings that we can rotate and keep them fresh."
Anderson a fast riser on the defensive line
Defensive lineman Henry Anderson learned how to play low and could be in line for a breakout season as a result. Shaw said that Anderson's improved leverage has helped the former 2010 Cardinal signee make a positive impression in camp so far.
"I talked to Henry his freshman year and I told him flat out when you play low, you are very good," Shaw said. "When you don't play low, we can all block you. That was the year he redshirted, but he's playing lower and for a guy who's 6-foot-6 and playing inside, he gets off and plays low. He's got such an unbelievable reach. He bats down passes, he pushes guards back in the quarterback's lap. He's done a great job and one of the things that people don't say about him, but the more you watch him he's a really good athlete. He runs extremely well. So that gives us hopefully more depth as we looking at inside with Josh Mauro and Terrence Stephens and David Parry, and the mullet's coming back, I'm excited about that with Ben Gardner."
Beyond Anderson, Gardner, Mauro, Stephens and Parry, however, Stanford's experienced depth at defensive line is minimal. Shaw said that the Cardinal is still trying to identify which younger players can
"Henry's kind of charged ahead of the pack as far as the younger guys are concerned," Shaw said. "The other guys are doing well. I wouldn't say they're ready to crack it, but I've seen some great flashes from Lance Callihan and Anthony Hayes. Those two guys have shown flashes. They're not quite to the consistent stage yet, but I like where they are.
"I love the freshmen. I'm not sure if any of them are ready to play this year, but the flashes from Aziz Shittu and Ikenna Nwafor have been outstanding. Jordan Watkins is an unbelievable athlete for as big as he is. Those guys have so much to learn. We'll see if any of them get ready to play, but I'm excited where they are and we have depth hopefully going forward."
Pair of receivers step up
Outside of Drew Terrell and Ty Montgomery, freshman Kodi Whitfield has been the subject of praise all camp long, but Shaw singled out another receiver on Thursday as well.
"Kodi Whitfield has done some great things at receiver," Shaw said. "We're extremely excited about him. And guys have been saying it for a while, waiting for it to come, Jamal-Rashad Patterson has had a great week of practice. We're really excited about where he is. He's faster and lighter than he's ever been. He's catching the ball more consistently than he ever has. He has a certain air of confidence around him right now. I'm excited to see him play."
Whitfield has exhibited maturity beyond his years in gaining a grasp of Stanford's offense.
"Whitfield has come in and the guy can run every route," Shaw said. "And that's rare for a young guy. Usually with a young guy you give him a little bit as they go on. He's come in and day one he knew everything from being here over the summer with the guys and that's just rare. Ty Montgomery wasn't there early on mentally, it took Ty a while. Right now he knows the whole playbook. And not just from one position, he knows all three positions -- both outside receiver spots and the slot.
"The last guy to do that here for us really was Ryan Whalen his freshman year, to have that much knowledge, so we're excited, we're excited for him."
One Cardinal player suffered an injury during Thursday's practice while several appear close to a return.
Running back Ricky Seale hurt his shoulder during practice and could miss time, although it seems unlikely he'll miss much if any of the upcoming season.
"We'll see tomorrow," Shaw said. "It doesn't look like it's going to be too long. It'll be a week or two. Nothing big, there was no separation."
Meanwhile, after missing some time with an ankle injury, outside linebacker Alex Debniak returned to the field. He didn't miss a beat in his return.
"We thought it was an ankle sprain but he just tweaked it," Shaw said. "He was back today. And we didn't block him today."
Peat should also return to practice shortly.
"Peat (could return) possibly tomorrow," Shaw said. "Possibly full-speed tomorrow. Definitely by the weekend. How much of the scrimmage we give him we'll see, but if he's ready to go we want to put him in those live situations."
Safety Harold Bernard should also be healthy by Sunday's scrimmage.
"He tweaked his hamstring," Shaw said. "He should be good to go if not tomorrow for sure Saturday."