This article follows up last week's Top 10 Questions piece, which I recommend you read before this...
Injury update - Teevens says that his roster will all be cleared for the first day of practice Wednesday, save redshirt sophomore Stanley Wilson. Wilson "will be limited this spring," according to Teevens, as he recovers from off-season shoulder surgery. Redshirt junior Chris Lewis will be the most closely watched player of suspect health, as his shoulder is not yet 100%. Teevens expounds, "Lewis is maybe 80% to 90%. We're still not sure where he is. We don't know how hard or how often he will be able to throw. With the rotator cuff surgeries, you never know how long or complete the recovery will be." Lewis will be cleared to fully participate for Day One of the spring practices on Wednesday, but his evaluation for the remainder of the spring will be "day to day." The only other player Teevens discusses related to injury and recovery is redshirt junior Luke Powell, who the Stanford coach tabs "somewhat healthy," but optimistically feels like this is the most healthy this staff has had the dynamic receiver.
Position switches - Score a couple points for The Bootleg here, when we made the right calls last week. Despite the officially published roster and outlook that lists redshirt freshman Grant Mason strictly as a wide receiver, he will start the spring at cornerback. "He floated the idea to us," Teevens reveals about the move for Mason. "He was a standout defensive back in high school, so we want to give him a chance. He need to assess his athleticism, and watch him backpedal instead of moving forward." The coaches figure they can get a good handle in the first week of spring if Mason is a natural fit or not at this level on defense, and then make the call to keep him there or move him back to a very open wide receiver group. Even if he moves back, the switch will be an important one for Mason down the road, should he be needed at some time this fall on defense (e.g. injury depletion). Spring is a time of pure teaching, rather than the game preparation that consumes so much of the fall, and the terminology and plays will be under Mason's belt after the spring. The other highly anticipated move will bring redshirt junior Drew Caylor inside from defensive end to defensive tackle. The three candidates for that move were ostensibly Caylor, Will Svitek and Amon Gordon. And though Caylor is the move being made today, Teevens does leave the door open to further shuffling if the coaches are not happy with the balance of performance and depth along the defensive line.
Schimmelmann redux - There has been some debate and discussion as to whether redshirt sophomore Kevin Schimmelmann might get a crack at the open free safety position, or if he might stick at strong safety. The argument in favor of that move would be the inexperience at the FS position manned by two seniors last fall, relative to the very solid play of redshirt sophomore Oshiomogho Atogwe at SS. Atogwe was universally hailed as the most consistent player on the defense last season, if not the entire roster. The coaches seem to be in favor of giving Schimmelmann an early look at free safety, rather than stacking him behind Atogwe. So look for a three-headed competition to start the spring with Schimmelmann competing against Timi Wusu and Trevor Hooper. Teevens describes the balancing act of his defensive backfield, where he has not been blessed with veteran players or depth, as a "kind of a swirl." Also consider that a new position coach is in that mix.
Track balancing act - Teevens acknowledges that there is a balance between the need to keep his football players playing football, alongside their track commitments. He is mindful of the fact that they are at Stanford on football scholarships and how much work must be done in a limited timespan this spring, hopeful that they will be present "for the bulk of practices." Furthermore, he notes that the 4x100m team has already qualified for the NCAA championships and that the greatest thrust of track season will come after spring football. But look for some of Stanford's two-sport athletes to miss some time this spring on the football field. That includes wide receivers (redshirt sophomore Nick Sebes and redshirt freshman Gerren Crochet) and defensive backs (redshirt freshman Timi Wusu and true freshman T.J. Rushing). All four players are gunning for starting positions this spring - no mere role players. "They all understand the opportunities in front of them," says Teevens. "And we don't want to compromise either sport."
Offense in focus - Nothing new or mindblowing has been revealed about the offense. Still the same rhetoric about improving quarterback play, earnestly trying to run the ball, and utilizing Stanford's standout tight ends. Teevens does note, though, that he wants plays where they can "get the ball out of the quarterback's hands quickly." That is as much a reflection of the youth and concerns on the offensive line as it is any reflection of an offensive philosophy. Teevens says that the new playbook is 100% complete today, as well as the philosophy for how the plays will be used.
The utility of spring - Spring football may seem like an excuse for coaches to push and prod their players, but Teevens genuinely sees the serious importance for this edition of Stanford spring ball. "In a case like this, where we have so many young guys, they need to get adjusted to game speed," he elaborates. "It's not so much a time to prepare for opponents, but instead a time for individuals to prepare themselves."
Player watch list - Just as eagerly as we await the various "watch lists" that come out before the season, highlighting the players at various positions around the country who are poised for star-filled seasons, you cannot avoid the question of who is poised for a breakout spring. Teevens is very difficult to pin down on such questions; he instead prefers to survey a host of players who he thinks has burgeoning ability. But he does offer up Michael Craven as one to watch this spring. "Craven was in and out last year, but one of the guys who made the greatest progress in the off-season," Teevens allows. Another measuring stick could be the Spring Foo