Practice Day One: David Shaw

On a perfect Bay Area summer day, Stanford's 2011 football team hit the practice field for its first pre-season fall practice. David Shaw met with the media following the conclusion of his first fall practice as Cardinal head coach to discuss the team's first day, the squad's overall health, and a variety of other topics.

Below is the transcript of the media's discussion with Shaw.

How was your first day of fall practice as Stanford head coach?
David Shaw: It was good. It was good. And I would say good, not great. I think we showed some good retention, guys were running. It was good to see Chris Owusu out there running around, but at the same time we have a high standard for how we practice. and we were close, but I don't think we were completely there today.

You don't want to be perfect the first day…
DS: You know what, though? Our guys they have high expectations and if I didn't set the bar they would be disappointed in me. We want to set the bar high, we want to be as good as we can every single time we step on the field.

Who didn't take part in practice?
DS: Chris did, 100 percent, Levine Toilolo did, 100 percent, there's only one [who missed practice], Matt Bentler. He's still coming back from his surgery from a year ago. For him right now, it's precautionary, kind of like what we did with Chris during the spring. Chris could have gone in the spring, Fleener could have gone in the spring, we were just being very precautionary with him because we need the depth up front.

Do you think Owusu is going to return kicks soon, or have you got that far?
DS: He will, whether or not he does it every game we'll see, but he's so dynamic in that respect that he's got to be able to do it for us.

Was there a message to the team before practice today, any thoughts?
DS: The message to the team was we have high expectations for how we practice, we're not going to worry about playing games right now, we're not going to worry about anybody else, we're going to worry about us and how we practice, and how fast we can run and how hard we can run and in a couple of days we'll put the pads on.

What do you find yourself doing the same as Coach Harbaugh, what do you find yourself doing different?
DS: That's a tough question. I really don't concentrate on it. I concentrate on what our team needs. The moment I start thinking about myself I can put the team in a bad position. I don't want to do that at all. I want to see what we need to do and we need to get better at as a team.

Coach, it's well documented that the team lost 11 starters, but the starters that you kept would seem to be in positions you would really want to keep; quarterback, left tackle, your two safeties, linebackers. Accurate assessment?
DS: Very. We love the guys we have coming back. Some of those guys that are coming back are as good as anybody in the nation. But that's not going to be the only thing that determines our success. The success is going to come in can we come together as a team. All those positions that are being fought for, who is going to win those positions? Will they going to play well all year? Because this is a long season and we play a physical brand of football so we need as many guys as possible to come healthy and ready for us to play.

Everyone knows about Andrew, but who's going to back him up and is that job going to be earned here in camp?
DS: That's going to be one of the thing we're really looking at. Right tackle, center, left guard, defensive line, backup quarterback… It's vital. It's vital to our success, and as I said last night, if Andrew breaks a shoelace and has to miss a play, the guy that comes in, it might be third and four at SC with the game on the line. We have to know who that guy's going to be and prove it to us in practice.

I know it was just first day at practice, no pads, but was there anybody, either returning or new, that really caught your eye a little bit, extra burst in their step?
DS: It was just good to see Chris Owusu running like we know we can run. That was exciting to see.

It seemed like watching practice, that cornerback, I think his name is [Wayne] Lyons, No. 2, young fellow seemed to make a lot of plays. Was that just me a layman noticing something that really wasn't there or did you notice that too?
DS: He's an extremely talented freshman, one of the most highly touted freshmen coming out last year, and he didn't surprise me one bit, it was just fully expected from him. The hard part for freshmen, even the most athletic freshmen, is not day one, it's day six and day ten and day 15, and that's going to be the determining factor, because especially on the defensive side, it's not just the good plays, it's the bad plays that determine who's going to play and who's not going to play, but right now, Wayne had a good start.

Speaking of your freshmen, how did Montgomery look?
DS: He did a good job. Still learning, but athletically, it was great to see him make some big catches, run some good routes, but he's still got a long way to go.

How about Vaughters?
DS: He did a good job. I can't wait to see him play with the pads on. It's hard to judge a linebacker without pads on.

When are you going to start with pads?
DS: We have one more day without pads on. The third day and fourth day we put shoulder pads on and then the fifth day is with pads.

When do you have two-a-days?
We start the first two-a-days this weekend at some point. I believe it's Sunday.

Anything from the two incoming true freshmen quarterbacks that you liked?
DS: They can both throw the ball, but it's just getting through the minutia of our offense and the play calling and the protections. It's a long tunnel for those guys, and the light is down there somewhere, and we'll see what happens.

When you were hired, you talked about how special it was to be at this position, to actually take your first fall practice with the season ahead and your family around, what was that like to hit the field and be the guy?
DS: I couldn't tell you. I'm one of those guys, I put my head down, I look at all the little things, things we do well, things we don't do well, what we need to do better, what we need to change about our meetings, about our meeting times, we have guys that are still in summer school, so I'm a big process guy, so at some point years from now I might sit back and look at it but right now we're going 100 miles per hour and we don't have time for that.

Where does Darren Daniel figure in?
DS: Darren Daniel is presently not with the team. He's potentially going to transfer.

Are you disappointed?
DS: No, every young man has a lot of choices to make.

And Alex Turner, same situation?
DS: Different situation, but we'll see what happens over the next year or so.

So there's a chance he could return to the program?
DS: It's a possibility.


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