Shaw Answers Some Key Preseason Questions

More David Shaw from last week’s Bay Area Media Day. We try to divine what a potentially meaningless psychological tell could mean for our football team’s fortunes, because, hey, what else is summer for? Plus, we do deliver some actual news. Read on for the scoop.

Around these parts, Coach Shaw had a reputation for being stoic. That’s a great quality in a monk, but perhaps a negative during games, when the louder you scream, the faster your players run and the more the officials cower before you, or so the thinking went. But Booties soon saw that: 1) Coming after the ever-mercurial Jim Harbaugh, even a madman would be viewed as overly passive and 2) Maybe Coach Shaw picked his spots, and maybe every show of emotion wasn’t a YouTube-worthy meltdown waiting to happen, but he did get pretty fired up after all.

So while I am loathe to pigeonhole the man, based upon my interactions with him over the years, I can report that I have never seen him as happy as he was at this event. Now maybe the closet Niners fan in him really liked the new stadium. Maybe he was enjoying the offseason break from the wear and tear of the fall. Maybe he was just having a good day. And maybe I was the proverbial blind squirrel when I wrote in this space last year that Sonny Dykes looked like he knew a train wreck was coming while SJSU’s Ron Calagher looked supremely confident. Still…

Still, a happy David Shaw has to be a good sign, right? The majority of this man’s waking hours are spent trying to win football games, and if you think you’ve got a pretty good shot to have a surprisingly successful fall, you’d be happy too, right? I’m not seeing the world through Cardinal-colored glasses, right?

Andy Drukarev of the site we shalt not reference by name Rivals was there too and tells me I’m crazy, but then again, he tells me that regularly. So, yeah, on paper, Stanford should win about half its games. And on paper, given the crazy schedule, the remaining half will be functional coin flips, swinging upon whether a fumbled ball or field goal attempt or tipped pass bounces six inches to the right or six inches to the left. But all I’m saying is that if the coin keeps landing heads up and the ball keeps bouncing the way of the boys in red, you heard it here first.

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On position battles: “Lots of battles for playing time more than for starting spots. There’s a competition at right guard, but both guys are going to play. [Brendon Austin and Johnny Caspers.]

”At DB, I’m excited to see how Kodi Whitfield fits in. Ronnie Harris may or may not be listed as the starter, he had an outstanding spring also. So those battles for playing time are going to be exciting. Everyone is going fast and having to rotate so we can play at a higher level.

On free safety: “Kyle Olugbode has the edge, but again, both guys are going to play. Kodi has 15 practices while Kyle has three years of knowledge so that goes to Kyle, but Kodi is a natural safety and I’m excited to see him play. [Guess here: Oglobude’s your starter come September. Whitfield’s your starter come November.]”

On Dallas Lloyd: “Dallas is still learning. I wouldn’t say that he’s battling for a starting spot.”

On high expectations: “We have high expectations, so as I tell our players, it’s the best way to go about it. Never worry about outside expectations, we put our expectations on how hard we work, how hard we play. We reserve our expectations until we start to develop as a football team.”

Success’ impact on recruiting: “It’s been vital. For years, Stanford was place to go if you were a good student and a pretty good football player, but our success gives us access to really good students and really good football players.”

”Well see on Montgomery. There’s a chance on the first game. A chance either way on when he’ll play. He’s ahead of schedule. No one has worked harder. He’s going to make it hard on us to keep him out. We’ll do what’s best for him in the long run, not the short run.

”Alex [Carter] is going to be ready very, very soon.”

On the running backs: ”I’m pleasantly surprised with our guys running between the tackles. We don’t have Tyler Gaffney, Anthony Wilkerson, Stepfan Taylor. We have smaller guys, but they have been able to run between the tackles.”

The Bootleg asks about breakout players: “I think Tarpley is at the head of that list. I think Jordan Richards shared a lot of publicity with Ed Reynolds, and now we’ll see him for what he is, top two or three in the nation. I think we’ll see Alex Carter take the next step in his career, where his play meets his talent. I think we’ll see the entire receiving corps [break out]. Devon Cajuste had a phenomenal year. He broke our yards per catch record, which hasn’t been talked about much. He’s worked extremely hard this year. He’s 224 and runs in the low 4.4s. Numbers like that don’t make sense. I’m excited we’re taking the next step to give guys the chance to influence football games.”

On health: “We’ll be relatively healthy for the most part. Ikenna Nwafor has been injured off and on.” [Editor's Note: Shaw later indicated that Nwafor (foot) will likely medically retire]

On Kevin Anderson: “Kevin Anderson is our starting rush end right now. He’s in that [breakout] list also, just was playing behind the nation’s sack leader. He played as well as most guys in the conference, so he can go to a guy who eveveryone knows.”

On tight ends: “Our starting spring TE has some versatility, but Austin Hooper finished spring as the starter and has had a phenomenal summer. Eric Cotton will play a lot. The rest of guys are in a battle for playing time.

”We may not do as much OL stuff because [Hooper] can get it done at line of scrimmage. [i.e. Hooper can block solo and may not need much double-team help from a lineman.] He has great hands, soft hands. It’s on his shoulders. Our expectation is for him to be the next Jimmy Dray. He’s a complete tight end, blocker, catcher, all-around tight end.”

On the inside linebackers: “Going into spring, that was a big question. I think Joe Hemschoot is phenomenal. I think Blake is phenomenal. I think Noor Davis was outstanding, so I’ve gone from saying we have one inside linebacker in A.J. and a bunch of maybes to saying we have four. We have to rotate them in, we have to feel comfortable having all four playing. We don’t say A.J. has to stay out there because the other guy doesn’t know what he’s doing.

On Keller Chryst: “Most likely, Keller will redshirt. Never say never, but we’ve never had a freshman quarterback coming in, including Andrew Luck. We anticipate him redshirting and getting in next year.”

On Lance Anderson: “Lance has been here since 2006. He’s a phenomenal recruiter: a very smart, bright coach, and a great communicator with players. For years, our recruiting coordinator always wore 10 different hats, but this guy knows the game. When I took over the job, Derek was a no-brainer, and when he left, it was a no-brainer it’ll be Lance.”

On whether the defense will change: “There’ll be subtleties, but the bulk of what Vic Fangio put in five years ago, the bulk will remain the same. Derek put his own spin on it, added and deleted as he saw fit. Lance, the same, more or less of things, a similar structure but a different personality.”

On limiting Anderson’s workload: “We’ve tried to, but Lance is a workaholic. We have to make sure he has a home life. We’ve taken some recruiting off of him, but he’s still embracing that and is still an outstanding recruiter. He’s our liaison with admissions and our student-athletes, and giving [our student-athletes] an opportunity. It’s not about changing Stanford admissions, it’s about finding the right kids.”

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