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April 10, 2013

Notebook: Peat Rises

Though Andrus Peat was one of the most sought after recruits in the country, his first season of college football wasn't always easy. Peat had has hands full trying to block the likes of Chase Thomas and Trent Murphy in practice, let alone adjusting to the rigors of Pac-12 play and trying to wrap his mind around Stanford's playbook.

"It was baptism by fire," Stanford coach David Shaw reflected after a recent spring practice. "I'll tell you what, he went a stretch of one-on-one pass (protection) where he didn't win any of them. I didn't feel sorry for him, but at one point I passed by him after one-on-one pass pro and I said, 'This is good for you.' I said it doesn't feel like it right now, it's kind of like castor oil, but this is going to be good for you because there's no better place to learn.

"It was brutal. Those guys are nasty and they didn't pull any punches either. It was hard."

Peat has been a different player this spring, however. His confidence is up, bad body weight down, and his production has been massively improved.

"Now he's got a lot of confidence," Shaw said. "He's moving great. His weight's down. And he's using his length. That's one thing, to say you can keep Trent Murphy back, because Trent Murphy is really long. Andrus Peat is keeping him at arm's length. It's been fun to watch his growth."

Still, Shaw wants expectations to remain reasonable as Peat heads into what most expect will be his first season as a starter.

"I know what his aspirations are," Shaw said. "For him right now, we just want him to be solid. We'll worry about what his ceiling is or what he can be way down the road. And he's been that. Pass (protection) has been really solid. Run blocking has been really solid. Picking up the calls and sometime making the calls they have to make with their blocking assignments, He's been very solid. So he's off to a great start right now and he's only getting better."

Shaw didn't speak in such glowing terms about another one of the Cardinal's touted 2012 offensive line recruits, guard Josh Garnett.

"He's been solid," Shaw said. "I wouldn't say he's where we want him to be just yet. I think Andrus Peat has taken great strides, great strides. I think Kyle Murphy has taken some big strides. I think Josh has taken smaller strides. And we're going to keep pushing him because he has the ability to be extremely good at this game."

Spring up-and-comers: Shaw singled out a number of players for making impressive strides from the season to spring ball.

"Defensively I would say both Blake Lueders and James Vaughters, both of those guys have shown that they're hungry and ready to play," Shaw said. "It's hard to say with Usua (Amanam), but Usua has been great. I think our young defensive linemen have started to pick it up. Ikenna Nwafor has really shown. Aziz Shittu has put three great practices back-to-back to back, which is exciting, because now we can tell him that you've shown us you can do it, now let's do it on a consistent basis. And he's been doing it, and it's been exciting."

"Offensively a combination of Michael Rector and Devon Cajuste. Those guys have really taken it upon themselves to come out and play. I'm not including Kodi (Whitfield) in there because Kodi has been playing well. He's not really a surprise to us, but he made a lot of plays last Saturday, which is great to see. It's great to have (Tyler) Gaffney back in the mix, and he's right back to where he was, which is great. And then our young backs. Barry (Sanders) makes a play a day, which is great."

Frovic still months away: Freshman walk-on tight end Alex Frkovic, who garnered some praise before suffering a knee injury last fall, is expected to return this fall.

"The big Canadian will be back in training camp," Shaw said.


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