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September 5, 2013

Notebook: Spartans off the schedule

Despite the stated wishes of both parties, Saturday's home opener marks the last time Stanford is scheduled to play San Jose State. On Thursday, Cardinal coach David Shaw responded to comments made by Spartan coach Ron Caragher earlier this week about why the series was ending.

"I am still kind of sad this is the last Bill Walsh Legacy Game, at least for the time being," Shaw said. "I want to make sure everyone knows this is still a mutual thing between Stanford and San Jose State, hopefully we can reach an agreement. It was insinuated by Coach Caragher that this was our decision, that we don't want to play a home-and-home, so that's why it's going away. Completely not the case.

"This is something between the two of us. There is still another financial component which is still not for public consumption. But it's between the two universities. I just want that to be known: We're not making this game impossible. It's something we want to continue; we'd love to continue, but it has to make sense for both places. So hopefully that negotiation can stay where it is, where it needs to be, which is between our universities, athletic departments, provosts, and chancellors. There's more to it than just playing home and home."

Previously, Caragher seemed to blame Stanford for the series concluding.

"It's disappointing the series should end," Caragher told the San Jose Mercury News. "This is a game that should be played on a home-and-home basis. We go up there, they come here, every other year. Back and forth and that's how it should be."

Added Caragher: "We would be glad to host Stanford University every other year, just like we'd be glad to go up there every other year and those are the terms, we'd be glad to do it."

Stanford fully healthy: Fullback Ryan Hewitt, who has been dealing with swelling around his knee stemming from an injury he suffered in last month's open scrimmage, will play on Saturday.

"Ryan Hewitt will play," Shaw said. "He ran around today and looked good. We'll still probably play all three fullbacks in different packages and use them for different things, but he looked great today. He finally feels good, the swelling finally went down. It's completely gone now. So he'll play."

With Hewitt in the lineup, Stanford will hold the distinction of being completely healthy for their season opener.

"It's the first time that I can remember that we don't have anybody held out for medical reasons," Shaw said.

That feat is made even more remarkable by the physical nature of Stanford's training camp. In contrast to other college teams which avoid tackling during camp to minimize injuries, the Cardinal have periods of live tackling and full contact.

"The thing is we're very fortunate that we stayed healthy because we're going to practice full speed, we're going to tackle," Shaw said. "But we're deep enough that we rotated guys through. So hopefully we didn't wear anybody down too much."

Case in point? Stanford's running back depth. The Cardinal goes five, maybe even six deep at the position. In addition to making explosive plays, Stanford emphasizes pass protection to its running backs. Shaw said that several backs are more advanced in that facet of the game.

"I think our top three pass blockers right now are (Tyler) Gaffney, (Anthony) Wilkerson and Remound Wright," Shaw said. "All three of those guys have been really good. I feel good about all of them. Ricky (Seale) has made strides. He's coming along as well. I don't feel bad about him being in there to do that. Barry (Sanders is) still learning there. But I really feel good about the top three guys. They all know it, which is great. Coach (Tavita Pritchard) has done a phenomenal job because our protections have a lot of rules. But our two big guys in particular, Gaffney and Wilkerson, are doing really well.







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