Coach David Shaw
Q. Coach, how was your open practice?
COACH SHAW: It was good. I like when we have those open practices. We of course don't run any of our tricky things. But at the same time, when people are watching, you get that extra energy from the guys. We got after it pretty good. We were pretty physical, which is just the way we practiced.
Q. Talk a little bit about your team.
COACH SHAW: We've got a pretty mature group. These things like that, things like this don't bother us. We enjoy our time here. My word for the guys before we came down here was to compartmentalize. Which when we're on the practice field, there is nothing but football. Nothing exists on the planet, except for our practice field. When we're not, let's enjoy this. When it's time to go back to football, we'll go back to football.
Q. Do you expect this to be a grind-it-out game?
COACH SHAW: Absolutely. Absolutely. We're two similar teams that like to run the football and play great defense. We don't know anything about that. Whatever people say about point spreads and those things, those things don't matter. Just about every game we play comes down to the last possession late in the fourth quarter. So our minds are geared up for that, and we know it's going to be a heck of a football game.
Q. Coach, what kind of opportunity is this for your program? Is this a chance to elevate on that next level?
COACH SHAW: Well, for us, we think we're there. We've elevated ourselves based on how we've played. For us, this game is an opportunity to win a bowl game. We're 1-1 the last two bowl games. We want to win this one. So for us, this is just an opportunity.
Q. And Alvarez has a lot of history?
COACH SHAW: Absolutely. Absolutely. He's a Hall of Fame football coach. And being a coach's kid, I always looked at coaches and watched what he did. When he turned Wisconsin's program around, at the time it was just about unprecedented. The change in mentality, the toughness, the way those guys were able to play together as a unit, they're so well-coached through the '90s, what he did there is impressive. He's always been one of my guys that I watched when I was growing up.
Q. Coach, with all the D commands on your time, can you describe how much different this week is in terms of getting ready?
COACH SHAW: It's different. Our time gets stretched. We caution our guys a lot about staying off their legs when they don't have anything to do. I don't mind if they go do something, but it's go do something and sit down. But we were prepared for this. Went through a little bit of it last year, the last two years, actually. Big thing for us is we got a lot of our work done back in Palo Alto. On Stanford's campus, we got a lot of our work done, got the game plans in. So our meeting time now is fine-tuning. We can be right to the point in our meeting times knowing we have things to do.
Q. Have you been able to have some fun here, too?
COACH SHAW: We're enjoying it, but we also know what we're here for. So I've told them to take advantage of all that's offered. For something for them to go do, go do it and really enjoy it. But in the next few days we'll start dialing that down and get ready to play a football game. We're going to play our best football game this year.
Q. Can you talk about the transition of Kevin coming in as starting quarterback?
COACH SHAW: Part of it was it wasn't
done cold turkey. Kevin had been playing. Kevin
had gotten some time in the previous three games.
He's so athletic, we were going to use his athletic
ability as a complement to what Josh Nunes was
doing. We got to the point where the offense had
sputtered offensively, and he got some time
He hasn't slowed down since. Every time we got the ball his first three drives, and we went down and scored. His ability to run, if nobody's open on the pass play is a game-changer. Our ability now to call our gun run offense with him, I think is another game changer. It just gives defenses something else to account for.
Q. Coach Shaw, the Josh Nunes scandal, how has he handled this year?
COACH SHAW: It's been tough, but he's
handled it unlike anybody I've ever been around.
He understands why I made the decision I made.
He's ready when called upon. He's practiced
extremely well, which is what he and I talked about
a bunch, which is you've got to keep razor sharp to
a certain degree.
So we still give him a lot of reps, because you have to have two quarterbacks ready at all times. In particular, with as much as Kevin runs, there might be two or three plays where Kevin has to come from the sidelines and Josh has to be ready to go in there and throw potentially a game-wing touchdown.
So his mentality is there. He's ready for that possibility, and he's handled it phenomenally. like Zach, Ryan, he sounds like he's done a very good job of helping mentor Kevin along. How has he been in terms of helping bring him up to speed?
COACH SHAW: He's been great. It's such a comfort for me. Sometimes when I'm looking for Kevin on the sideline, I see he and Josh over there talking about what they saw. Josh watches the game. Watches him like a coach. There's no mistake about it. Josh was the most prepared guy at the beginning of the year. He understands the offense inside and out. He understands defenses inside and out. So for them now, it's like having somebody who is on your level buts has more experience than you, but can come and be a sound board for. Kevin can say, here's what I saw. What did you see? And those guys can have those combinations. I felt good about that combination of those guys.
Q. What is the plan going to be in spring ball? Will it be an open competition? Or is Kevin going to go in with the lead? How's that going?
COACH SHAW: Yeah, Kevin will go in with the lead. Kevin's our starting quarterback from now on until something else happens, but Kevin's play in the last five games has secured his position. So we won't be competing for his job in spring.
COACH SHAW: Well, the week prior to
that, he showed us a lot. He showed us that he
understood the protections. That was the biggest
thing. We adjust our protection at the line of
scrimmage. We change our running game at the
line of scrimmage, and you have to do that to play
quarterback for us. Until then, we had a small
package for him to go in and be an athlete, running
But once he showed that he could demonstrate that, we were going to give them more opportunities to play against Colorado. His first three drives, he took us down for touchdowns. The big thing, when it's third down, and nobody's open, and he doesn't have to throw the ball away, he can pull the ball down and rip off a tackle. That's something we don't have to throw the ball. We can run the ball with one of our gun runs knowing the defense has to count for them. Now they have to count for them in the running game. Now when we drop back sometimes, there is one less guy in coverage, because they're spying on him.
Q. You also have the offensive line move to outside linebacker. Do you just look for length? How do awe approach that?
COACH SHAW: Big athletes. Big
athletes, and all of them have basketball
backgrounds. There is no mistaking about it. The
combination, and the correlation of playing
basketball is legitimate. It's the footwork, the
running ability, the athleticism out in space. It's
hard to teach those guys that. They either have it
or they don't. If we can find as many guys as
possible that can play that position well at any level
and they don't make it at tight end, you can move
You can look at Ryan Hewitt, the high school tight end. The fullback, H back, we can flex him out to run routes. There are so many things he can do, because his versatility is so special. We hope to continue to find guys just like that.
Q. Talk about Stepfan Taylor and what he means to this team?
COACH SHAW: Stepfan Taylor has set
the tone for our offense from the beginning. It
doesn't matter how many guys are in the box,
we're going to hand the ball off to him. It doesn't
matter sometimes if we don't block it perfectly.
He's going to make a guy miss. He made a great
run against SC with an unblocked guy in the hole.
A great run against Cal at the end of the game,
making a guy miss.
His daily work habits are unmatched. He doesn't say a word. He comes in every single day and goes extremely hard, stays after it, does more. All of our young running backs, we just say, do what he does. We don't have to yell at him, scream at him, we say follow him. If you can keep up, you're going to be a good football player. Harbaugh is what this team is now?
COACH SHAW: To be honest, I think it's
a combination of things. When Jim got the job, he
still tells the famous story about Bo Schembechler
saying are you going to have a tight end, are you
going to have a fullback, are they going to be on
the field at the same time? And that was our
We had a conversation before. I've told this story so many times. We had a conversation before we came up from San Diego, and he asked me about Denny Green. I said, well, my dad was defensive coordinator. We played great defense. We had great athletes on offense. We moved the defense to help us on the defensive side, and we had Tommy Vardell on the offensive side and Ed McCaffrey. So at the time we had the biggest offensive line in college football in the early '90s, and that was Jim's mentality.
I told him, it has worked at Stanford before. We talked about how it came about with the recruiting, and it was like a perfect fit. When everybody else was running sideways in the conference, we started running north and south with really big guys and physical guys like Toby Gerhart, Jimmy Gray blocking on the right side. There were just so many things that fit perfectly, and we've been able to continue to recruit to what we do.
Q. How has this group been able to reinvent itself every year?
COACH SHAW: You've got to give Mike
Bloomgren a lot of credit for what he's done with
those guys and the mentality they have in that
room. Everything everybody gets in that room is
earned. It's a tough room. It's a tough room. You
walk in that room, and you better have thick skin.
It's not just Mike that's going to get on you.
Sammy's going to get on you. David Yankey's going to get on you. If you can handle that room and come out and perform, you deserve to play. So for us, we've played one true freshman on the offensive lineup until this year and the last five years, and this year we played three. Those guys have earned that. Andrus Peat, Kyle Murphy, Josh Garnett, those guys are going to be phenomenal. They've taken some beatings in that room. Some verbal assaults, if you will. But that mentality, and the fact that we're going to call plays for what they do well.
Sometimes we put a play in and they get really excited and we'll remind them. If you don't execute it, we're not going to call it. That's the standard that we hold them to. They know. They put a lot of pride into what they do. It's a tight knit group. Excited about the future, we'll continue to get better in the next few years.
Q. Will you play some of the younger guys this game?
COACH SHAW: There is no question,
we're going to play guys. There are a lot of plays,
lot of guys have had success, it will be great.
They're going to play five starters and the rest of
the guys watch. We'll play at least eight in the
Rose Bowl, and we've been that way all year.
We're going to play eight.
So for a young guy to come in and know he's going to have a chance to play. He's not going to have to sit on the bench for three years. If he can survive in our room, he'll get a chance to play. So it's been a huge selling point.
Q. Were you surprised at Luck's successes this year in the NFL
COACH SHAW: Those of us around at
Stanford were not surprised. There is nothing he
hasn't been able to do. There is nothing on any
level that he's not been able to be successful at.
He's so driven. He's such a competitor and so
athletic, and so strong and so accurate.
They've been able to have such success without a consistent running game, without a dominating defense. Because you really look around and the kid at Seattle is phenomenal. I'm a huge fan. I'm a huge fan of Robert Griffin. Those guys have huge running games. Those guys have great defenses. And Andrew has been able to have the success he's had without those two big factors. The way their general manager and everybody on the same page, and the coaching staff and everything they're going to build there will be truly special.
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