Troy Taylor, Logan Berzins, and Lance Keneley look ahead to Oregon
On Tuesday, Stanford head coach Troy Taylor along with senior offensive lineman Logan Berzins and senior outside linebacker Lance Keneley shared their thoughts on Saturday’s home game against #9 Oregon.
Taylor was first asked about Oregon and the challenges they pose. Taylor said they have great speed and are very dynamic. He’s well aware of the challenges that they pose and says his team is excited for the opportunity. Taylor praised Ducks quarterback Bo Nix. A guy who has a lot of confidence in his abilities and the system they run. A catalyst to a dynamic offense. He feels like there are similarities between Nix and Caleb Williams of USC, but there are some differences as well. Bottom line is both guys are challenging to face and they’re going to have their hands full.
Injury-wise, Taylor confirmed that wide receiver John Humphreys, guard Simione Pale, safety Scotty Edwards, and safety Jimmy Wyrick are the ones whose status going into the game is questionable. He didn’t provide much of an update beyond the fact that they hope to get them back. One update I can provide on that front is I interviewed Edwards on Wednesday, which is an arrow up for him. The team doesn’t allow guys who are injured to do weekly interviews, so if he was available to talk with me, that’s a very positive indicator about what his status is heading into the game.
Taylor was then asked about playing two quarterbacks in Ashton Daniels and Justin Lamson. Taylor said he wants to play one quarterback but is looking for someone to emerge as the best option. Playing two quarterbacks is less of a tactic and more just a reality of the situation that they are in. Same thing with punter. Between Connor Weselman and Aidan Flintoft, Taylor is looking for the best guy. He feels like both guys have something to offer on that end, but a starter hasn’t yet emerged. All about finding the best guys to do the job and giving guys a shot.
Taylor had good things to say about outside linebacker Ernest "R.J." Cooper, praising the way he is developing. He feels like he’ll be a big part of their defensive scheme as the season goes on. He mentioned Cooper played some nickel for them, which is interesting.
Taylor said they are looking to find a good balance between running and throwing against Oregon. All while playing well defensively. He feels like beating Oregon is going to require just a really sound all-around performance by his team. Patience is key.
Regarding their close losses to Arizona and Sacramento State, Taylor said they are telling the team how close they were and trying to use that as inspiration. That said, he said the focus is on moving on quickly and not dwelling on the previous game. All about taking things game to game and focusing squarely on the next game.
Taylor has hope that the return game can be better. He likes the speed they have in guys like Casey Filkins and Bryce Farrell. He feels they’ve been a block away from a big gain on those. All about improving the fundamentals of blocking and also strategically trying to give them a chance.
Taylor does feel like his defensive line is getting better and that the staff is doing a great job of staying positive. All about getting better each week and if they do that, he feels like they can compete to win some games. He feels like they are playing really hard and is pleased with their progress. Taylor also shared some insights into how he communicates with defensive coordinator Bobby April III week to week. It’s really about letting April do what he feels is best and picking each other’s brains. April is given the full reign to do what he wants.
Taylor is excited about freshman running back Sedrick Irvin, Jr. Taylor likes the way he ran the ball against Arizona. He loves his physicality, quickness, and ability to break tackles. The way he plays with a good pad level and also takes pass protection seriously. An explosive guy who will continue to contribute.
Taylor likes the timing of their bye week. He feels like it comes at a good time for them in terms of getting guys back after the bye. He does feel like it’s strategic in terms of where it’s at and overall likes where it has landed for them. Building off that, Taylor said it’s really a week to week approach. He hopes they are better at the end of the season and feels that will happen if they stay focused on the present and getting better each week.
Finally, Taylor had great things to say about the Oregon defense. Just how fast and skilled they are. Very relentless. While they pose a lot of challenges on offense, Taylor feels like the Ducks pose a lot of challenges on defense as well.
Moving on to Logan Berzins, he said they are keeping a perspective of baby steps with respect to progress. He said they understand if they keep putting the work, the results will eventually come. He said they do feel like they are getting closer.
As for the offensive line, Berzins said they are doing better than when they started. Communication, being more decisive, and trusting their technique he feels are the big things they need to work on. But he feels confident that they’ll play well against Oregon. He likes how the whole room is clicking.
Berzins likes how Taylor’s staff has improved his conditioning. The Shaw era he felt was slower and not a lot of high intensity reps. He likes how Taylor’s staff has improved things with respect to conditioning and mirroring what they’ll see in a game.
When asked about the quarterback situation, Berzins said his job doesn’t change at all whether it’s Justin Lamson or Ashton Daniels under center. He said it doesn’t matter. All about protecting them. There are some differences, but it doesn’t change the fundamental nature of how they operate.
Berzins praised the way Sedrick Irvin, Jr. has been playing and the way he runs the ball. Just how hard he runs. He said it’s been really inspirational to watch. And then as a whole, he praised the entire running back room and the confidence he has in their ability to deliver the goods.
Berzins was asked about how they are graded by the staff and how it is different than PFF. He feels like both grading systems are helpful, but it matters much more about how the staff grades them since they are the ones who understand them best. He’s working on getting his sets down and what angles he needs to take. He has been working on punching and getting on defenders quick.
Berzins talked about the in-house Cal-Stanford rivalry that’s in his home. That was fun to hear about. His dad went to Stanford and his mom went to Cal.
With regard to beating Oregon, Berzins feels like everyone hyper focusing on their assignments and tuning out the noise is the key. All about doing their job and letting the rest take care of itself from there. He’s excited to see how they perform.
Ending with Keneley, he had good things to say about Oregon’s offense. He said they are very potent. Something April has emphasized is not getting confused by the gadgets and things they do to get guys out of position. If you stay focused on your assignment, then all the distractions that Oregon tries to do should go away. He says they are well aware of the challenges that Bo Nix poses for them and how it’s especially challenging to face dual threat guys. He feels like for his unit, it’s all about staying in your lane and fulfilling your assignment as best as possible.
All about execution. That’s the biggest thing he feels they need to do and an area that they are getting better at. Keneley likes how April is doing all he can to put guys in the best possible positions to make plays. He is aware that they lost a lot of guys but likes how April is making the most of what they have.
Keneley feels like there are some things they can take from their home victory over Oregon two years ago in terms of just general confidence. At the same time, he feels like given how they have a new staff and everything, that’s something that hasn’t been discussed. So, a combination of both perspectives on that.
Keneley does think that on defense, the way they are practicing has helped them become as intense as possible come game day. He feels like practicing like it’s a game applies to the defense as well as the offense. Both he and Berzins are aligned in that belief.
Keneley also talked about lessons he learned from his dad, who played football at USC. He praised the way his dad taught him how to play defense early on and getting him oriented to play the right position all while being hyper competitive. He definitely attributes a lot of his success to his dad, including his decision to put him in wrestling.
Finally, Keneley feels like the defense is getting better. He likes how single mindedly focused they are on getting better and blocking out the noise. He likes how disciplined they are. The biggest thing they need to improve on is consistency. The more consistent they can be, the better he feels they’ll be. He feels like they are close to being the defense they want to be. Keep trending in the right direction.
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