Stanford has released its depth chart for the season opener against UC Davis, giving a look at the state of some position battles immediately after training camp. Though David Shaw emphasizes that his staff doesn't put enormous stock in the term "starter" (especially at positions that will likely see multiple bodies rotate through), the two-deep is generally a decent indication of who to expect on the field during meaningful time on Saturday. Here's a link to it, and here's a picture of it:
- We can start with the position battles that have now been resolved. There aren't any huge surprises here: Blake Martinez will start alongside A.J. Tarpley at Shayne Skov's former inside linebacker spot, Kyle Olugbode gets the nod at free safety, and Kelsey Young is the top dog at running back.
- As we delve into the second level of depth, things get more interesting. There's no nickel back position listed on this two-deep, so that may explain some unexpected shifts among the secondary positions. Zach Hoffpauir -- who's impressed the staff this summer -- is a favorite to replace Usua Amanam at the nickel, but since that position is absent here, Hoffpauir is listed behind Olugbode at free safety instead. Just about a week ago, Shaw said that Kodi Whitfield would split time with Olugbode at free safety, but Whitfield is slotted behind Jordan Richards at strong safety instead. The guess here: The staff wanted to get both Hoffpauir and Whitfield on the two-deep since both of those guys will see playing time, and they had to mix it up creatively to do so because of the nickel back's absence in the listing.
- Since Joe Hemschoot was in the thick of the inside linebacker competition, some may be surprised to see him listed behind James Vaughters at outside linebacker. No worries here, though: Hemschoot is the most versatile player on the Stanford defense. The Cardinal anticipate using him on the outside, inside, and at a "big nickel back" position tailored just for him.
- Alex Carter and Ronnie Harris are listed as co-starters at cornerback even though Shaw recently said that Carter's been 100 percent cleared to play. Expect Harris to play a lot -- he enjoyed an excellent camp -- but also expect Carter to get the clear starting nod once USC rolls around September 6.
- There's only one listing for tight end, though Stanford actually employs two separate tight end positions: the 'Y' (blocking-oriented) and the 'F' (receiving-oriented). Eric Cotton is at the top of the list, and he's an 'F' tight end along with Greg Taboada and Dalton Schultz, neither of whom cracked this depth chart. Austin Hooper is a starter, too. He plays the 'Y' tight end spot and is backed up by veteran Charlie Hopkins.
- Barry Sanders, Ricky Seale, and Remound Wright are listed in a three-way tie behind Kelsey Young at running back, while true freshman Christian McCaffrey is not on the two deep despite earning praise for his explosive running this camp. Shaw has said that McCaffrey has a strong chance of seeing action, so this development may lend credence to the theory that the Cardinal is looking to use McCaffrey as a specialty weapon (a la Kelsey Young of the past two years) instead of as a standard, in-between-the-tackles running back this season.
- The only true freshman to crack the two-deep is left tackle Casey Tucker. He has a strong chance to play as a supplementary lineman as the season progresses.
- Shaw wanted a sixth defensive lineman to crack Stanford's rotation up front during camp, but it appears that did not happen. The starting battle between Blake Lueders and Aziz Shittu remains unresolved, while Shittu is double-listed as David Parry's back-up at nose tackle. As expected, Luke Kaumatule is the team's fifth defensive lineman, so he should see solid playing time less than a year after converting from tight end.
- A number of players made their first two-deep. Among the veterans, inside linebacker Noor Davis, cornerback Ra'Chard Pippens, and right tackle Nick Davidson are slotted in. The youngsters: right guard David Bright, receiver Francis Owusu and outside linebacker Peter Kalambayi (who played a fantastic spring game).
- Torsten Rotto, a walk-on who has long provided solid depth for Stanford at outside linebacker, made his first two-deep as Reed Miller's back-up at long snapper.
- Disregard the weights on this two-deep. They appear to be outdated. Kyle Murphy, who's listed at 272 pounds, is actually up above 300 now. In fact, all of the Cardinal's offensive linemen are now significantly heavier than their listed weights, while Lueders has added 14 pounds of strength after his move to defensive end from outside linebacker. Here's the official Stanford roster, which features up-to-date weights.
David Lombardi is the Stanford Insider for The Bootleg. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com and follow him on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.
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