Q&A: Brett Nottingham

The biggest storyline of Stanford's spring camp is the battle to replace Andrew Luck, and Brett Nottingham is the man at the center of that story. After redshirting his freshman year, Nottingham beat out two older players to win the backup job last season, showing flashes of brilliance whenever he came in for mop-up duty.

The competition is between Brett Nottingham and Josh Nunes. Though head coach David Shaw has given little indication of who has the edge, Nottingham has previously beat out Nunes once for the backup role. The Bootleg interviewed Nottingham after practice last week, gaining insight into his view of the team and of the quarterback competition.

The Bootleg: What have been your impressions of the second session of spring practice so far?

Brett Nottingham: My impressions are similar to a lot of my teammates'. It's been a lot of fun, and it's really nice to get back out here. We're all pretty darn rusty after a three-week break and I think that's to be expected, but we're back in the swing of things.
It's awesome being in full pads and getting to do some hitting. We got to do some full speed stuff today, which was awesome to see. It's really exciting, a really competitive atmosphere.

So does that hitting apply to you, or is it no contact for the quarterbacks right now?

BN: Yeah it's no contact, so if there's any contact with the quarterback, we're getting tripped up or something. The defense isn't supposed to be hitting us. [Still,] it's been really live, real high tempo. The running backs are getting hit, guys are being taken to the ground in live periods, so that's really exciting to see.

I guess it's time for the obvious question: how has the quarterback competition been going? How has it been between you and Josh?

BN: It's going alright. We look forward to every day. Like I said, it's a real competitive atmosphere and stuff. All the other quarterbacks and I enjoy all the periods we're having out here, it's been pretty productive. There's a lot of stuff to clean up, but I think all the quarterbacks are making some good progress and getting a lot of good coaching.

What do you think you got out of being the backup to Andrew Luck last season? What did you learn from that experience?

BN: A whole lot. I think all of us who got to sit behind Andrew, we had a great seat to watch something pretty awesome. I think more off-the-field stuff was really useful—being in the film room with him and watching how he prepares, and just seeing the type of guy he is and the type of leader he was. It's invaluable for a quarterback in my situation and the situations with the other guys. You're a young guy, you see what it takes to accomplish what you want to accomplish and be a great quarterback.

Have you been in touch with him at all since spring practice started?

BN: Yeah, a little bit. We'll shoot texts back and forth a little bit and then also, since he came back for pro day, he's been on campus. I've seen him out here throwing a few times, I've seen him working out and stuff. It's fun to see him around, and it's fun to see the other guys too—Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro.

What do you have to do to distinguish yourself in this competition, beyond just being accurate and playing well?

BN: A lot of people think at quarterback, a guy's got a big arm and accuracy, but I think that kind of stuff is overrated. Obviously, you need to be accurate to play the position, but mostly it's just understanding our offense, getting us to the right play, managing bad plays, and taking care of the football. I think being smart is much more important than those other attributes that most people associate with being a quarterback. Being smart and making good decisions is probably the most important thing.

Has the running game factored more into what you're doing this spring, since the starter next year is going to be new, or is it the same level you've been doing in the past?

BN: I think it's actually been pretty similar. You'd think that, with Andrew leaving, you're not going to put too much on the shoulders of the quarterback. That might be the case a little bit. Andrew obviously had an understanding of this offense that was second to none, almost like one of our coaches. So you'd think that the running game would pick up the slack a little bit, and it's nice to know that we have great running backs. However, I think we're going to be seeing a very similar run-to-pass ratio. The recipe worked really well last year, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I think it's been pretty darn similar to years past.

Do you think by the time we're heading into the spring game, or heading into the summer, we'll have an idea of who's going to be the starter? Or do you think it's just going to keep going?

BN: I don't know, that's way above my pay grade, so I don't know. Anything in my mind is complete speculation. I just do my job and come out, and try to improve on my own skills every day. I guess the closer we get to the season opener, the more we'll start to see what direction we're going to go, but I'm not sure. I'm just looking forward to coming out and competing every day.

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