football Edit

Stanford Media Day notes

Stanford coach David Shaw met with the media on Thursday morning at Warner Bros. studio in Burbank to discuss a variety of topics related to the upcoming football season. Here's a breakdown of some of Shaw's notable comments.
Shaw on: Running Back
After a stellar finish to the 2014 season and a strong spring, sophomore Christian McCaffrey has vaulted his way to the top of Stanford's running back depth chart. He won't be the only contributor at the position, however.
"(Christian) McCaffrey showed me some phenomenal things a year ago," Shaw said. That is just the tip of the iceberg for him. But I also believe Remound Wright and Barry Sanders will have a big hand in what we do going forward."
"For him coming as a freshman, I believe this, and I've done it with so many guys over the years. When you have to play a guy who is a freshman, we spoon feed them. We give him only those things we know he can be successful at because we want him to start his career off on the right foot and not have any setbacks. We needed him to get stronger before we asked him to do much more than we asked him to do last year. He's bigger. He's stronger. He's more physical. Had an outstanding spring. He's a dependable pass protector now, which early on in his career, a lot of freshmen, it's hard to ask them to do that."
"We've got Blake Martinez blitzing through the A gaps that can stand up and pick those guys up. He can do that now. So he's a guy that can line up 7 yards behind the quarterback, and run the ball between the tackles and pound people, yes, he can do that. But he can do all the things you saw him do last year, run outside, run inside, be part of the gun run game. Return punts and kickoffs and catch the ball in the back field or catch the ball as a receiver. There is not a lot limiting what he can do. So for us, that's where Remound Wright and Barry J Sanders are still going to have their role because we're going to use Christian all over the place. We don't want to kill the guy in the first three weeks of the season. So we have to make sure we play those other guys because Christian is going to return some punts and return kickoffs. There are going to be a variety of different things we use him for."
McCaffrey spent the offseason honing his abilities as a pass blocker.
"He's over 200 pounds, very physical," Shaw said. "Took it to heart what we needed him to do to be a complete back. Worked on his pass protection. I want to give Barry J Sanders the same credit. We needed Barry to get stronger and be more physical as a pass protector so that we can lead those guys in in those passing downs, so every time they come out, they're not going out for a pass or handing the ball. We can play action pass with those guys and have them straight drop back pass and pick up linebackers. That is a complete part of being a complete back at Stanford University. Both of those guys have made huge strides to where they are now capable of doing those things along with Remound Wright, so we have three complete backs in our back field."
Shaw on: Quarterback
Kevin Hogan finished the 2014 season on a high note, playing his best ball of the season - and perhaps his college career - in the Cardinal's final three games.
"On the offensive side, having Kevin Hogan come back for a fifth-year I think was great," Shaw said. "I think the way he ended the season last year he's playing as well as anybody in the country. Very excited about him coming back as a senior again as a captain. Really, I they we got a glimpse of how good he can become. I think he's still one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the nation. But you look at what he's done leading us to back-to-back conference championships, back-to-back bowls two or three years ago."
Hogan's improved mastery of Stanford's offense should give the Cardinal more flexibility within their approach.
"I think his spring, I thought was phenomenal," Shaw said. "We're so excited about it. We can give him two or three plays in the huddle, the audible package, and he's been great. Andrew got to the point where we could call three or four plays in the huddle, and he might choose a fifth play on his own."
No matter what the circumstance, however, Hogan won't be the only Stanford quarterback who sees playing time in 2015. Shaw is intent on giving the winner of the backup quarterback competition between Ryan Burns game experience this season.
"I would say beyond committed because it's going to happen," Shaw said. "We need for it to happen. It's what we did with Kevin early on in his career. It's what we did with Tavita Pritchard early on in his career. We have a history of doing that. The biggest thing in doing that, that position is so vital I would never want to come into a year having a quarterback that's never played in the game. I don't ever want to have that again. It may get to the point where if we can't decide between the two, we'll play them both. Maybe this week you're going to get four or five plays, and the next week we're going to get him four or five plays and we'll evaluate you guys that way. So they'll get a couple plays in the first and second quarter and very similar to what we did with Kevin. Get their feet wet in college football and evaluate them that way. I'm not averse to doing that at all. I think it's vital to do that."
As for Stanford's backup quarterback in 2014, Evan Crower, Shaw still isn't certain of Crower's next step.
"I haven't talked to Evan in a while," Shaw said. "He still had a couple possibilities as of a few weeks ago, and I don't know if he's made the decision. But hopefully he does, because I think the kid can play."
Shaw on: Wide receiver
Ty Mongtomery is off to the NFL, but Stanford isn't exactly hurting at the wide receiver position. Their top two wideouts, Devon Cajuste and Michael Rector, are proven big-play threats, and incoming freshmen, Trent Irwin, might be the most college ready of the first-year players.
"Devon Cajuste and Michael Rector have both made a lot of plays," Shaw said. "We didn't perform at a high level last year as we did two years ago, but Michael Rector averaged 30 yards a catch, and Devon averaged 20 yards a catch. So we have two big players that we're excited about."
Cajuste suffered an ankle injury during offseason training, but he's expected to be cleared during fall camp.
"Some point in camp he'll be healthy," Shaw said. "I think early on we'll have to watch him a little bit. But he's made great strides in the last week and a half. I saw him the other day, he's walking with no limp. He felt great. He's going to start running straight ahead pretty soon, but he'll be ready to go."
"Actually they didn't need the surgery. That was the rumor going around through social media, and that's what happens. What you read is not always what is true. There was a chance for surgery, and we talked about it, went and saw doctors, didn't needed surgery. It's been healing great. He's been great with his rehab. He's a diligent young man what it comes to the physical stuff. He knows how to push himself in the smart way. At some point in camp he'll be full go. But he's a little ahead of schedule which is great."
Meanwhile, Shaw confirmed that at this juncture, that Trent Irwin is the most likely of the true freshmen to play a lot.
"That's fair to say," Shaw said. "But I can't answer that until I see them on the field, particularly with the pads on and going through our ringers and going through some scrimmages before I can really see first and foremost who is physically, mentally, and emotionally ready to play, and who can go out there and execute. On top of that, we have a lot of guys that are coming back that I'm waiting to see that are veterans also. I have no problem playing freshmen in they're ready or red-shirting freshmen if they're not ready or somebody else in front of them is better."
Shaw on: Offensive line
Stanford returns four of five starters along with several emerging younger players in the trenches.
"(I'm) really excited for us in the next step with the offensive line," Shaw said. "The majority of our guys being fourth year seniors, and a lot of guys that have played some football for us. I think this is the first year in two years we've had competition. So we're going to have competition for the right tackle position. We're going to have competition for the guys on the inside who really have a chance to put together a really good group of mature young guys that learned a lot of lessons last year."
Casey Tucker, Nick Davidson and Dave Bright were discussed in the media day Q and A for the available spots on the right side of Stanford's line. Johnny Caspers and Brandon Fanaika will also be in the mix.
Shaw on: Defensive line
Stanford's defensive line lost a trio of seniors from the 2014 team, including two to the NFL, but the Cardinal still has talent up front - even if depth remains a question.
"We have our first fifth-year transfer in Brennan Scarlett coming over from Cal who has played very well for them," Shaw said. "He's been injured on and off throughout the years and he looks like he's going to be healthy enough to start camp in some way, shape or form. But healthy enough to play during the course of the year and to have that experience I think is phenomenal for us. Aziz Shittu coming back as a fourth year senior and highly recruited young man that has unbelievable talent that if he can stay healthy he'll be great for us. Two sophomores that one played last year and one red-shirted. Harrison Phillips played there for us."
"Aziz is completely healed from what kept him out of spring. He's completely past that. He tweaked his hamstring. We'll prepare him in training camp. He's going to be fine for the start of the season. Brennan we're going to be careful with and cautious with with all the major surgeries he's had over the last few years. But he's a worker. He's blown away our trainers. He's blown away our strength staff about how hard he works and how specific he is with his rehab. He's been way ahead of schedule. But we also know with his injury history, we're going to be very cautious with him throughout training camp. We probably have a modified double day schedule with him just to make sure. He probably won't want to do it. But that's why I get to be the head coach and he gets to be the player. We make those decisions for him. We need him to get through the season and be healthy and play as many games as possible."
Shaw on: Transfers
While some around college football have bemoaned the increase in graduate transfers, Shaw embraces the the rules that are far less restrictive for graduate athletes than those still completing their undergraduate degrees.
"I'm in the minority here," he said. "I think the rule is great. I have absolutely no problem with it. Which is strange coming from a guy that's had guys leave. But the way I look at it common sense wise, if I'm one of those guys that I red-shirt my freshman year and I play three years and I've been there four years and I get my college degree and I look up and I'm a back-up and there is some place else I can go play, I want to play. I want to start. I've fulfilled my obligations with my letter of intent. I went there four years and got my degree and prepared myself academically. I've earned the right to seek another place to play a fifth-year. So when a Kelsey Young comes in and says I recognize you guys have great backs and I want to go some place where I have a chance to carry the ball 20 times a game. I say, great, who do you want me to call for you? So we've helped our guys find places to go because as far as I'm concerned they've fulfilled their obligation to Stanford University and gotten their degree. And I have a tough time telling a guy with a Stanford degree what to do."
Stanford lost five graduate transfers (possibly six, depending on Crower's decision) this offseason. Of that group, only two - Patrick Skov and Wayne Lyons - were possible starters.
"I mean, Wayne lost his starting job to Harris later in the year," Shaw said. "He would have to come and compete to get back now. Would he have the leg up? Possible with his experience. I love where some of our young guys are coming in. It would have still been a battle. Patrick Skov had the inside track to be a starter. I love where Daniel Marx is as well. So maybe they could be the front runners, possibly. But it's part of my job to make sure we recruit with depth. We've got two fullbacks on our team right now. Both of them have a chance to be outstanding football players. So the thing came up with Patrick. We talked about it. Talked about what he was looking for. I didn't try to stand in his way. I wanted to think about it, and make sure he knew what he was doing. Make sure it's the exact program he was looking for. With Patrick it was also a serious academic situation. He's got a chance to get a business degree, and that is the program he's in at Georgia Tech. So I said, if that's what you want, go get it."
Shaw on: Injuries
Nick Davidson - "Hopefully he'll get back at some point in training camp to be pretty close to full go.
Brennan Scarlett - "He's been injured on and off throughout the years and he looks like he's going to be healthy enough to start camp in some way, shape or form.
Devon Cajuste - "Some point in camp he'll be healthy. I think early on we'll have to watch him a little bit."
Aziz Shittu - "Aziz is completely healed from what kept I am how the of spring. She completely past that. He tweaked his hamstring. We'll prepare him in training camp."
Noor Davis - "Noor Davis was injured training. It's a rarity for us, kind of a freak deal. It was a lower leg injury, a tendon injury. But he looks like he's earmarked somewhere around midseason to be back, and he's well on the way to doing that."