Spring Practice: Day Seven

The second Saturday of this spring edition of Stanford football almost didn't happen, with a deluge of early morning rains. But the Card pushed on through the steady rain for a highly anticipated scrimmage that will be used by the coaches to reshuffle the depth chart at many positions next week. Read on for the top performers Saturday, plus some injury updates.

There was some bad news and some good news on the injury front.  The bad news is that Greg Camarillo was on crutches Saturday and is done for the spring.  He broke his fibula late in Friday's practice and expects to be out for the next six weeks.  Speaking of breaks, Josiah Vinson was on the sidelines at the practice field for the first time since his own bad luck break, and after practice he was greeted by his entire class of freshman teammates who visibly excited to see him.  Vinson was supported by his mother, who flew out this week from Texas to be with him as he went under the knife Wednesday.  The break was just above his ankle, and he had a metal plate with some screws inserted.  The early report is that Vinson feels that the leg is solid with the new support, and should be on crutches for just a month.  He is expected to be back at 100% in time for summer workouts.  The good news on the injury front was that some players who had donned yellow jerseys on Friday participated in Saturday's scrimmage.  Both Gerren Crochet and Brandon Royster lined up Saturday in full-contact action.

Some depth notes: Though T.J. Rushing missed the first week of practice, his performances in the second week were enough to impress coach A.J. Christoff to the point that he started Saturday.  Rushing is currently a first string cornerback, opposite Leigh Torrence, though Stanley Wilson is still out of contact drills.  The mix of Torrence, Wilson, Rushing and Grant Mason will be a bigtime battle in August - that's for sure...  At quarterback, the order in which snaps were taken was Chris Lewis, Trent Edwards, Kyle Matter and then David Lofton; Ryan Eklund did not take snaps, though he had thrown Friday for the first time this spring.  Come Monday we will have a much better idea how the depth at this position plays out, as the coaches closely scrutinize Saturday's film.  Several of the QBs had repeated problems with the wet ball in the continuous rain, fumbling the snap or having the ball squirt out during handoffs and attempted throws.

Also very interesting to see the presence of the option in the offense.  Lofton and Matter both looked good on the run, and the struggling offense did pick up some decent yardage with the option.  Lofton had one of the day's two best offensive plays on a scramble, in fact.  He picks up ground in a hurry when he gets outside in the open field, and you can tell he wishes he could rip off that yellow jersey and see how far he can run when he meets the LBs.  Honestly, if Lofton sticks at quarterback through the 2003 season, I could see some rotation akin to what we saw with Stanford in the 1998 season.  Todd Husak, Joe Borchard and Randy Fasani all rotated in the same series in some of those games, with specialist roles.  Lofton could be a scrambling/option specialist that could put defenses back on their heels...

Speaking of Lofton, he had the play that almost was the best play of the day.  With his receivers covered, Lofton took off scrambling to his right when he saw several defenders converging on him as they smelled the run.  He slammed on the breaks and saw a receiver break toward the back of the endzone, quickly unloading for his target 40 yards down the field.  The ball was right on the money, and pulled down, but came just beyond the back endline.  The play of the day instead goes to Justin McCullum, who caught a short ball crossing over the middle.  Oshiomogho Atogwe quickly met him, but failed to wrap up the redshirt sophomore.  McCullum bounced off the tackle and streaked down the field for an additional 30 yards before Atogwe caught him with an angle.  When I saw McCullum after the scrimmage, I mentioned the play on the missed tackle and he was quick to correct the play where he "broke the tackle."  However you saw the play, the 6'4" Mercer Island (WA) receiver continues to show with such plays how he can pick up chunks of yardage and help move the ball in this young offense.

But once you remove these handful of plays, and the mild option success, the defense once again dominated the offense.  The linebackers are swarming to the ball, and the defensive line are getting big pushes into the backfield.  Notable standout plays included tackles behind the line of scrimmage for Julian Jenkins and Babatunde Oshinowo.  Though Scott Scharff had the biggest day on the D-line, with surprising pushes and finishing tackles.  Several observers marveled at the unexpected big plays from the Wisconsin native, who may be showing his best football at Stanford now that his body is filing into form. 

After two days of repetitions it looks clear that Kevin Schimmelmann is settling in at the weakside "Will" spot in the linebacking corps.  That will pit him against Michael Craven and Mike Silva, though with Craven again sitting on the sidelines Saturday, Silva got the start.  Craven has had a tough time staying healthy in his young Stanford career, with a collection of strains and stingers, which gives Schimmelmann a real opportunity to get high rep's this spring and compete to play next fall.  The other two starters Saturday were Jared Newberry (strongside) and David Bergeron (middle).

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