With the start of fall camp just days away, Cardinal Sports Report will examine five of the pressing questions facing the 2012 Stanford football team. The second feature in our series examines the two new faces on Stanford's coaching staff.
Previous: No. 5 - Wide Receiver Depth
Fall Camp Question: No. 4 What impact will Stanford's two new coaches - David Kotulski and Pete Alamar - have on the team?
Stanford's linebackers have been spoiled by some of the best coaching in the nation over the past few seasons. Current 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio helped tutor the unit in 2010, and new Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver was the middle linebackers coach in 2011.
By all accounts Tarver and Fangio were masters of their craft and made significant contributions to the development of Stanford's inside linebackers.
Kotulski, Stanford's new inside linebacker coach, is a football lifer with experience at all levels of the game, but how he'll transition from coaching lesser athletes in the Patriot League to top BCS-level players at Stanford remains to be seen. Kotulski spent time at Utah, Utah State, St. Mary's Bucknell, Holy Cross, during his largely successful 31-year career, but didn't see too many offenses with USC and Oregon caliber players.
From what we've witnessed at Stanford's prospect camps, Kotulski is a coach's coach - he has a gruff, no-nonsense demeanor, but is also a teacher. The recruits we've asked about Kotulski echo those sentiments.
We also asked Stanford linebacker Chase Thomas about Kotulski at Monday's Bay Area college football media day.
"He's a high energy guy," Thomas said. "He loves the game. He's been around for a long time. So we're looking forward to what he brings to the table in terms of experience and his energy and it definitely rubs off on the players."
With no disrespect directed towards former Stanford special teams coach Brian Polian, who is now coaching tight ends at Texas A&M, new Cardinal special teams coach Alamar won't have to fill the shoes of two current NFL coaching coordinators in his position.
Although he carried a reputation as a fantastic recruiter, Stanford's special teams were somewhat mediocre under Polian. Although Alamar's units weren't always statistically superior in his stops at Cal and Fresno State, his special teams knowledge should help Stanford.
Stanford coach David Shaw cited Alamar's positive influence on senior Daniel Zychlinski, probably the frontrunner to start at punter for the Cardinal in 2012, as evidence of Alamar's coaching prowess.
"Pete Alamar, our special teams coach, who has done a great job, he's one of those special teams coaches that actually coaches the kickers and punters," Shaw said. "(Alamar) has been able to help (Zychlinski) with his drop, help him with his steps, and help him be more consistent."