Pulling Teeth with Coach Shaw

Coach David Shaw’s full press conference transcript is pasted below. But first, some thoughts.

Emphasis added here:

"Now, for us, we just have to do whatever our guys can do. If we can get like we did last year and get to our big personnel to be able to run the ball efficiently, hey, that's great, we can do that. If we have to spread it out and run and throw and move the football, hey, we have to do that. Nothing is off limits to us. The bottom line for us is our offense needs to be scripted for our players and not just running the offense." - Coach Shaw

After squandering a shot at a national championship and a defense up to the task, Coach Shaw and his staff grudgingly went to what we'd been asking for months: no-huddle, more Barry Sanders and Christian McCaffrey, more spread it out. Lo and behold, it worked and rather well, against a defense that isn't world-beating, but looked really good statistically before today, and is far better than Arizona State, for example.

But notice the "can" versus the "have to" in Shaw's paragraph above, which I think is telling. If they *have* to go no-huddle, four-wide, run McCaffrey and Sanders more -- all the things we thought all along would work rather well and now have the proof to back it up, then they will. But they would *rather* run up the middle; that's where their comfort lays.

Why does it have to be this way? Why have an intrinsic preference for Play X over Play Y so strong that you only go to Play Y only after you've lost, conservatively, two games this year thanks to X, and grudgingly so at that?

Why not realize, as Shaw argued elsewhere in the presser, that your identity is about a playing style -- with physicality, through the echo of the whistle, with a dominant defense -- that should be robust to different play calls.

Also, a lot of this "identity" mumbo jumbo is after-the-fact analysis. No one would notice this new physical "identity" if we went 4-8 every year -- Stanford wouldn't have any identity then. A good 90% of this physical "identity" is winning a lot of games, and the positive coverage that results from that. So whatever strategy maximizes our chances of victory does the most to promote this identity, bunched in or spread out.

(Also, you’re allowed to form a new identity; heck, you look like even more of an offensive genius that way.)

I understand preferring, all else being equal, wanting to pound the ball since that's what we've done for years, and what the coaches and, to a lesser extent, players have become familiar with. But why be so stubborn that it takes over half a season to make the change that's been plainly evident? Then, even in the face of success, you acknowledge that you'd still be more comfortable pounding the ball up the middle, and are only going to keep spreading it out if they *have* to. Why is opening up the offense like pulling teeth?

It's like we're back in Teddy Roosevelt days and attaching character values to the football plays we call. Running the ball is tough, and manly, and American, and the spread, the zone read or any other new concepts are sneaky and communist. (Except the wildcat, because they run that in the NFL now.)

The counter is that Kevin Hogan is erratic and so passing becomes an adventure, but I’d argue the solution isn’t turtling up, but rather passing *more*. Hogan had two interceptions, one of them soul-crushing, against Oregon State in the first quarter, but we never trailed because we scored touchdowns every other drive. If we’re going to make mistakes – and we’re not good enough to avoid interceptions, or fumbles, or three-and-outs, or silly penalties no matter the offense – then we need to give ourselves as big a margin for error as possible, rather than hope for perfect execution that isn’t forthcoming, and then lament its absence.

Just like players learn and grow, so too do coaches, and we wish nothing but the best moving forward for Coach Shaw and his team, who have been responsible for great success here already. Here's hoping then that Shaw feels more comfortable adapting his offense to his personnel in the years to come, and finds himself more willing to break the mold.

********** ********** **********

David Shaw: First of all, really good team win, and I think for the first time, really Washington State was close I think for the first time offensively, it felt like us. It felt like what we wanted to have. We ran the ball well, we pass protected. Kevin threw the ball well. They got us on two tough interceptions. One they take the blitz and pop back out on the second one. The other one was just a great move by the linebacker that started to come back inside, then ran out full speed. Great play by them.

But I thought Kevin played extremely well. You saw him as a runner today. He's a dangerous runner. They have to account for him. And the stats won't say it, but I thought Remound Wright played extremely well, just being a pass protector in there but also a run threat.

Our receivers made plays, tight ends made plays, offensive line played well, and when we can support our defense with an offense, we have a chance, and outside of a late touchdown and a short field given to the defense, the defense was phenomenal.

Congrats again to the entire defensive staff, Lance Anderson, but our guys played extremely hard and played extremely well together on the defensive side.

Q. Now 10 0 under your tutelage following a loss. What's been the key to that success bouncing back?

DAVID SHAW: First of all, that's too many losses, but the key is the character of our team. The key is having great kids, great Stanford young men that understand and have perspective, and we talked about it today, I mean, there's a lot of people the world is crashing down around us, and that's fine for people outside of our locker room. In our locker room, it's not. We're in the middle of a football season. There are going to be highs and lows, and the good teams are the ones that bounce back from is losses, bounce back from tough games. They anticipate really good games coming up, and they prepare and go out and play their best. Our guys did that today.

Q. You talked about it just then and you were talking about it earlier this week. Just given everything that's gone on this year, you guys are going to Oregon next week with first place basically on the line. How do you feel about where your team is at going in there?

DAVID SHAW: I told our guys I'll tell you what I told them in the pregame speech this morning. The last time our constituents were nervous about us and not sure what we were going to do, we won three straight games and went to the Rose Bowl last year. The year before when the world was crashing down around us once again, we put our heads down and won eight straight and won the Rose Bowl.

It's a long season. There are a lot of things that happen. We're still growing. We're not a young team necessarily, but we're still a vastly inexperienced team. We don't have a lot of guys some of them playing those roles on offense in particular that are super experienced. Quarterback and two receivers, yeah, and left tackle, and that's about it. So we're still growing through some things, which is why today you saw we did some no huddle, we did some things that suited Kevin. You saw us do some things for Christian McCaffrey, you saw us do some things for Barry Sanders, you saw us do some things for Ty and Rector and Devin Cajuste, and that's what our offense has to be. It doesn't have to be strict paint by numbers. It has to be something that our guys can flourish, and that's our challenge as coaches all the rest of the way. We've got to allow our guys and our athletes and playmakers, allow them an opportunity to affect the outcome of the game.

Q. [The Bootleg’s question.] I wanted to follow up on that last question. Last week you talked about how the offensive output against ASU and some of the earlier teams just wasn't good enough given the talent that you guys have. You talked about how it started with you coaches and you guys wanted to rethink and do things differently. What did you guys try to change this week because obviously you got a much better and much different result.

DAVID SHAW: I think you saw us start the game in no huddle. You saw the tempo. The tempo helps the quarterback. He likes it. The offensive line likes it, the receivers like it, and once again, not overly complicated, relatively simple plays, but letting him have some latitude at the line of scrimmage and then also being able call some plays and have him jump the ball and just hand the ball off and snap it, so some long count, some short count, some run, some passes, and we went out and executed, and that was a big thing for us was this needed to be a high execution game, and I think that it was.

Q. You've had such a distinct identity since you got here. In order to get where you got today, did you have to cede some of that a little bit because you guys didn't look like the Stanford we've known the past couple years. It was still effective but it was different.

DAVID SHAW: And that was the thing honestly was point blank what we had been doing wasn't good enough. We'll never completely scrap who we are and what we've done. We still want to approach every single game as a physical running team, so even though we weren't in two backs and two tight ends some of those runs, some of those runs were still physical. Barry got two and through the line of scrimmage. We got a couple really nice runs in there. Christian got a couple of nice runs.

Our identity still is in how we play, even if we have to be in more single back, but we'll still keep some balance in what we do.

The bottom line for me, as I said before, was doing whatever our guys are comfortable doing, and we have to be able to throw everything else away and just find the ways to get our guys to be effective on game day because that's all that matters.

Q. What was the effect of getting Devin Cajuste back? He had a couple big plays and a big fumble recovery, too, but I was wondering from a blocking standpoint what was his overall contribution?

DAVID SHAW: You know, Devin is 6'4", he's 225 pounds, and he runs a low 4.5. He's a physical mismatch every single game. He makes big plays down the middle. But if you just play him as a pass receiver, he gets down and blocks you and he's a physical blocker, blocks as well as the tight end. Just having him as an added dimension, it's a tough match up with Michael Rector and Ty Montgomery back outside, also. Once again, if you play too much pass coverage, we give ourselves a chance to run the ball. Devin really opens up a lot of things for us, and it was great to see him back out there.

Q. Harrison Phillips got a lot of playing time today. He started on the line. We also saw Alex Yazdi and Nate Lohn in a meaningful capacity for the first time today. How do you feel about the defensive line depth heading into Oregon where that's going to be so important?

DAVID SHAW: You know, it's going to be extremely important, and those guys have to get ready to play. David Perry is a maybe, maybe not, we'll see; still questionable. It would be great if we could have him, but if we don't, those guys have to strap it up. I thought Harrison played well, I thought Yazdi came in and made some plays. Nate Lohn is a physical kid, strong kid back on the inside, and those guys have to be ready to play.

Q. The last two years against Oregon have kind of been quintessential program wins. You've dominated the ball, dominated the time of possession, done that. Would you mind just peeking ahead? I don't want to discount this win today, but just peek ahead a little bit to how you think you match up against them this year and why you've been successful against them the last two seasons.

DAVID SHAW: You just won't give me 12 hours, will you? The match up with Oregon starts with Marcus Mariota. Forget about what we do an offense, the match up starts with him. Not trying to stop him, trying to contain him as best we can. Every game he's going to be the fastest guy on the field. I don't care what anybody says about other awards; in my opinion he's been the best player, and I've said it repeatedly, the best play in college football the last couple years. He's special and he's dynamic. So we have to be able to try to contain him. They've got a fantastic running game, a bunch of running backs that can really hit you starting with a true freshman that's one heck of a football player.

Defensively they are big and they are long and they can get after you.

Now, for us, we just have to do whatever our guys can do. If we can get like we did last year and get to our big personnel to be able to run the ball efficiently, hey, that's great, we can do that. If we have to spread it out and run and throw and move the football, hey, we have to do that. Nothing is off limits to us. The bottom line for us is our offense needs to be scripted for our players and not just running the offense.

Q. Kind of a mixed bag on special teams today. You had the run back on the punt, but you also had a blocked punt, missed short field goal. How disconcerting was all of that?

DAVID SHAW: It's football. It's football. As you and I have talked some, I try really hard not to do the ups and downs. I don't go through the emotional roller coaster. We just coach and evaluate. The field goal, he missed it by six inches. You know, it has to be all the way inside the pole, and if any of the ball is over the top of the pole, it's not a make.

It was a great, great effort by that young man. We should have had him blocked, absolutely, but great effort by that young man. I didn't see who blocked it but I saw him fight through there and get his hands on the ball. But I think it's our second block or maybe our third block in three years or whatever it is. Great effort by them. We go back and make sure our protection is solid as it can be, make sure our operation time is as quick as it can be. We came back and had two more punts, and they were great.

Q. You had spectacular success in sacks today. Could you walk us through what you guys saw in their offensive scheme that allowed you to do that?

DAVID SHAW: First and foremost, I think a lot of the sacks came through coverage. I thought Alex Carter played one heck of a football game. He was really, really good today. Our rotation of corners on the other side, both Ronnie Harris and Wayne Lyons played extremely well. Our nickel played well. I think our defensive backs played well and forced the quarterback to hold the ball because a lot of those sacks weren't within two seconds, some were within four or four and a half seconds. So we had to make him get off his first read and go to the second read, and that's coverage. Yeah, we chased him down. The guys were relentless out there, and they know what's what we have to do. Against this team, you'd better get after the quarterback because he'll sit back there and really kill you.

Q. With Jordan's struggles this year kicking the ball, he missed a field goal the first half, but in the fourth quarter he had a chance and nailed it. How big is it for his confidence to be able to get that?

DAVID SHAW: It's a big thing with Jordan. Jordan, he's really matured a lot. I wish we made more than we missed too many for the year still, but he doesn't go through the ups and downs. He comes back, he works extremely hard, and we want to give him those opportunities because right now he's our guy. He's our guy, and we've got to put him out there. He's done phenomenal on kickoffs, and when he's in rhythm, as a field goal kicker, he's been good. It's our job to keep him in rhythm.

Q. I just want to ask, how is Zach doing? It looked like he came off the field there. DAVID SHAW: We'll see. We'll see. We have to send him to have the doctors check him out and see if he's all right. But we'll see if he's available for next week.

Q. In terms of offense, without giving away secrets, some of these plays you've put in, are these things you've had in the playbook or are these things you schemed up this week?

DAVID SHAW: Yeah, there weren't really a lot of new plays. I think the flat throw to Christian McCaffrey was kind of the one that we really haven't done in a couple years but it's been in the game plan. Everything else is stuff that we do, things that we've done. But we tried to make sure that we went through the extra effort as coaches to make the game as simple for our guys and as fun for our guys you saw guys out there going out there making plays and running fast and running hard and not be bogged down with a bunch of other stuff. You can call it streamlining, you can call it being player specific, whatever it is, but we're trying to suit our offense to fit our players.

Q. You talked about a lot of things that you did differently on offense. What are some of the things or one thing in particular you think that really worked and that we'll see more of going forward?

DAVID SHAW: I think just variety. I think variety. Like I say, we're not going to completely scrap our big personnels and our six and seven offensive linemen packages. We're not going to scrap those. But we can be versatile, so we need to be versatile. We've got a mobile quarterback, so we have to have some gun runs, we have to have some where he escapes the pocket. We have a multitude of backs that have a bunch of different strengths, so we have to lean toward each one of their strengths and not feel like this game plan doesn't suit this game so this guy doesn't play. We can't do that anymore. We have to be able to say here's what Barry has got, here's what Remound has, here's what Kelsey has, here's what all of our guys have, here's what Christian has, here's what we're doing for Devin and Ty. And it's a little extra effort for the coaches, but it's worth it so our guys can play fast and make plays.

Q. Going back to Mariota, saying he's the best player in college football the last couple years, how has he improved as a quarterback, not just an athlete?

DAVID SHAW: Well, I think you see it with what did he just throw his first interception of the year last night? He's so accurate and he gets the ball out of his hands. He does not throw into coverage, he reads things and you see his composure. You see his composure because he knows if he needs to escape, nobody can catch him. So he has very good composure. They have a young offensive line and have had to rotate some guys in there, and they've had to take care of those guys. But he can they've got Devin Allen, they've got speed outside. He can beat you from the pocket so we have to make sure we keep him in the pocket as best we can and try to collapse the pocket because he can get outside and hurt you.

Q. How important is that versatility to having success and being able to put that on film for a team like Oregon to have to account for this week, and just showing them a variety of things that work? Does that free up maybe just your basic power?

DAVID SHAW: Possibly. Possibly. And if that's an unintended result, that's great. But for us, it was about us. It was about finding some rhythm on the offensive side. It was about us getting some positive mojo going and feeling good about what we have as players and taking some mental load off of them and really getting them to go out there and play fast, and they did that today.

Q. [Troy Clardy.] Five touchdowns, four of them 37 yards or longer, including the punt return, as well. Is it kind of a relief to see the big, explosive plays get into the end zone and finally have that return?

DAVID SHAW: Yes, because those are the types of players that we have. It's great. I'd love to march down the field six, seven yards at a time and pound somebody and run it in from the 2 yard line every time, but we've got some guys now that can score from a distance. When we have the opportunities. And I feel bad for Rector; we had a couple great plays for him. Some didn't get called, and the coverage changed on us, but he's that kind of guy, also. We can score from distance. I think we put that on film today.

Q. I'm not sure how good of a look you have at the defensive line from the sideline, but how do you think that Harrison Phillips and some of the guys that are filling in for the injured players performed?

DAVID SHAW: I'm not sure until I see for sure on film, but I heard their names called a lot. I think Harrison made a couple nice plays. I saw him get some knock backs as we talked about inside. Nate Lohn played well, also, and those guys. They haven't seen a lot of time, but they went in, they took the preparation very seriously.

I also have to commend David Parry. David Parry knew he was going to miss this game, and he was an extra coach. He sat next to Harrison Phillips all week in the meetings, talked to him, encouraged him, gave him positive feedback as well as things that he could do better, so it was like having another coach, and that's how much respect our guys have for David Parry. Hopefully David can play next week. If he can't, he'll play that same role for us up in Oregon.

Q. And along the lines of injury, I know Zach Hoffpauir left and Kevin Palma did, too. Do you have an update on them?

DAVID SHAW: Not yet. Not yet. We'll see the next couple days how they're doing.





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The Bootleg Top Stories

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\r\nEmphasis added here:\r\n

\r\n\"Now, for us, we just have to do whatever our guys can do. If we can get like we did last year and get to our big personnel to be able to run the ball efficiently, hey, that's great, we can do that. If we have to spread it out and run and throw and move the football, hey, we have to do that. Nothing is off limits to us. The bottom line for us is our offense needs to be scripted for our players and not just running the offense.\" - Coach Shaw\r\n\r\n

After squandering a shot at a national championship and a defense up to the task, Coach Shaw and his staff grudgingly went to what we'd been asking for months: no-huddle, more Barry Sanders and Christian McCaffrey, more spread it out. Lo and behold, it worked and rather well, against a defense that isn't world-beating, but looked really good statistically before today, and is far better than Arizona State, for example.\r\n\r\n

But notice the \"can\" versus the \"have to\" in Shaw's paragraph above, which I think is telling. If they *have* to go no-huddle, four-wide, run McCaffrey and Sanders more -- all the things we thought all along would work rather well and now have the proof to back it up, then they will. But they would *rather* run up the middle; that's where their comfort lays.\r\n\r\n

Why does it have to be this way? Why have an intrinsic preference for Play X over Play Y so strong that you only go to Play Y only after you've lost, conservatively, two games this year thanks to X, and grudgingly so at that?\r\n\r\n

Why not realize, as Shaw argued elsewhere in the presser, that your identity is about a playing style -- with physicality, through the echo of the whistle, with a dominant defense -- that should be robust to different play calls.\r\n

Also, a lot of this \"identity\" mumbo jumbo is after-the-fact analysis. No one would notice this new physical \"identity\" if we went 4-8 every year -- Stanford wouldn't have any identity then. A good 90% of this physical \"identity\" is winning a lot of games, and the positive coverage that results from that. So whatever strategy maximizes our chances of victory does the most to promote this identity, bunched in or spread out.\r\n\r\n

(Also, you’re allowed to form a new identity; heck, you look like even more of an offensive genius that way.)\r\n\r\n

I understand preferring, all else being equal, wanting to pound the ball since that's what we've done for years, and what the coaches and, to a lesser extent, players have become familiar with. But why be so stubborn that it takes over half a season to make the change that's been plainly evident? Then, even in the face of success, you acknowledge that you'd still be more comfortable pounding the ball up the middle, and are only going to keep spreading it out if they *have* to. Why is opening up the offense like pulling teeth?\r\n\r\n

It's like we're back in Teddy Roosevelt days and attaching character values to the football plays we call. Running the ball is tough, and manly, and American, and the spread, the zone read or any other new concepts are sneaky and communist. (Except the wildcat, because they run that in the NFL now.)\r\n

The counter is that Kevin Hogan is erratic and so passing becomes an adventure, but I’d argue the solution isn’t turtling up, but rather passing *more*. Hogan had two interceptions, one of them soul-crushing, against Oregon State in the first quarter, but we never trailed because we scored touchdowns every other drive. If we’re going to make mistakes – and we’re not good enough to avoid interceptions, or fumbles, or three-and-outs, or silly penalties no matter the offense – then we need to give ourselves as big a margin for error as possible, rather than hope for perfect execution that isn’t forthcoming, and then lament its absence.\r\n

\r\nJust like players learn and grow, so too do coaches, and we wish nothing but the best moving forward for Coach Shaw and his team, who have been responsible for great success here already. Here's hoping then that Shaw feels more comfortable adapting his offense to his personnel in the years to come, and finds himself more willing to break the mold.

\r\n ********** ********** **********\r\n

David Shaw: First of all, really good team win, and I think for the first time, really Washington State was close I think for the first time offensively, it felt like us. It felt like what we wanted to have. We ran the ball well, we pass protected. Kevin threw the ball well. They got us on two tough interceptions. One they take the blitz and pop back out on the second one. The other one was just a great move by the linebacker that started to come back inside, then ran out full speed. Great play by them. \r\n

But I thought Kevin played extremely well. You saw him as a runner today. He's a dangerous runner. They have to account for him. And the stats won't say it, but I thought Remound Wright played extremely well, just being a pass protector in there but also a run threat. \r\n

Our receivers made plays, tight ends made plays, offensive line played well, and when we can support our defense with an offense, we have a chance, and outside of a late touchdown and a short field given to the defense, the defense was phenomenal. \r\n

Congrats again to the entire defensive staff, Lance Anderson, but our guys played extremely hard and played extremely well together on the defensive side.\r\n

Q. Now 10 0 under your tutelage following a loss. What's been the key to that success bouncing back? \r\n

DAVID SHAW: First of all, that's too many losses, but the key is the character of our team. The key is having great kids, great Stanford young men that understand and have perspective, and we talked about it today, I mean, there's a lot of people the world is crashing down around us, and that's fine for people outside of our locker room. In our locker room, it's not. We're in the middle of a football season. There are going to be highs and lows, and the good teams are the ones that bounce back from is losses, bounce back from tough games. They anticipate really good games coming up, and they prepare and go out and play their best. Our guys did that today.\r\n

Q. You talked about it just then and you were talking about it earlier this week. Just given everything that's gone on this year, you guys are going to Oregon next week with first place basically on the line. How do you feel about where your team is at going in there?\r\n

DAVID SHAW: I told our guys I'll tell you what I told them in the pregame speech this morning. The last time our constituents were nervous about us and not sure what we were going to do, we won three straight games and went to the Rose Bowl last year. The year before when the world was crashing down around us once again, we put our heads down and won eight straight and won the Rose Bowl. \r\n

It's a long season. There are a lot of things that happen. We're still growing. We're not a young team necessarily, but we're still a vastly inexperienced team. We don't have a lot of guys some of them playing those roles on offense in particular that are super experienced. Quarterback and two receivers, yeah, and left tackle, and that's about it. So we're still growing through some things, which is why today you saw we did some no huddle, we did some things that suited Kevin. You saw us do some things for Christian McCaffrey, you saw us do some things for Barry Sanders, you saw us do some things for Ty and Rector and Devin Cajuste, and that's what our offense has to be. It doesn't have to be strict paint by numbers. It has to be something that our guys can flourish, and that's our challenge as coaches all the rest of the way. We've got to allow our guys and our athletes and playmakers, allow them an opportunity to affect the outcome of the game.\r\n

Q. [The Bootleg’s question.] I wanted to follow up on that last question. Last week you talked about how the offensive output against ASU and some of the earlier teams just wasn't good enough given the talent that you guys have. You talked about how it started with you coaches and you guys wanted to rethink and do things differently. What did you guys try to change this week because obviously you got a much better and much different result. \r\n

DAVID SHAW: I think you saw us start the game in no huddle. You saw the tempo. The tempo helps the quarterback. He likes it. The offensive line likes it, the receivers like it, and once again, not overly complicated, relatively simple plays, but letting him have some latitude at the line of scrimmage and then also being able call some plays and have him jump the ball and just hand the ball off and snap it, so some long count, some short count, some run, some passes, and we went out and executed, and that was a big thing for us was this needed to be a high execution game, and I think that it was. \r\n

Q. You've had such a distinct identity since you got here. In order to get where you got today, did you have to cede some of that a little bit because you guys didn't look like the Stanford we've known the past couple years. It was still effective but it was different. \r\n

DAVID SHAW: And that was the thing honestly was point blank what we had been doing wasn't good enough. We'll never completely scrap who we are and what we've done. We still want to approach every single game as a physical running team, so even though we weren't in two backs and two tight ends some of those runs, some of those runs were still physical. Barry got two and through the line of scrimmage. We got a couple really nice runs in there. Christian got a couple of nice runs. \r\n

Our identity still is in how we play, even if we have to be in more single back, but we'll still keep some balance in what we do. \r\n

The bottom line for me, as I said before, was doing whatever our guys are comfortable doing, and we have to be able to throw everything else away and just find the ways to get our guys to be effective on game day because that's all that matters. \r\n

Q. What was the effect of getting Devin Cajuste back? He had a couple big plays and a big fumble recovery, too, but I was wondering from a blocking standpoint what was his overall contribution?\r\n

DAVID SHAW: You know, Devin is 6'4\", he's 225 pounds, and he runs a low 4.5. He's a physical mismatch every single game. He makes big plays down the middle. But if you just play him as a pass receiver, he gets down and blocks you and he's a physical blocker, blocks as well as the tight end. Just having him as an added dimension, it's a tough match up with Michael Rector and Ty Montgomery back outside, also. Once again, if you play too much pass coverage, we give ourselves a chance to run the ball. Devin really opens up a lot of things for us, and it was great to see him back out there.\r\n

Q. Harrison Phillips got a lot of playing time today. He started on the line. We also saw Alex Yazdi and Nate Lohn in a meaningful capacity for the first time today. How do you feel about the defensive line depth heading into Oregon where that's going to be so important?\r\n

DAVID SHAW: You know, it's going to be extremely important, and those guys have to get ready to play. David Perry is a maybe, maybe not, we'll see; still questionable. It would be great if we could have him, but if we don't, those guys have to strap it up. I thought Harrison played well, I thought Yazdi came in and made some plays. Nate Lohn is a physical kid, strong kid back on the inside, and those guys have to be ready to play. \r\n

Q. The last two years against Oregon have kind of been quintessential program wins. You've dominated the ball, dominated the time of possession, done that. Would you mind just peeking ahead? I don't want to discount this win today, but just peek ahead a little bit to how you think you match up against them this year and why you've been successful against them the last two seasons. \r\n

DAVID SHAW: You just won't give me 12 hours, will you? The match up with Oregon starts with Marcus Mariota. Forget about what we do an offense, the match up starts with him. Not trying to stop him, trying to contain him as best we can. Every game he's going to be the fastest guy on the field. I don't care what anybody says about other awards; in my opinion he's been the best player, and I've said it repeatedly, the best play in college football the last couple years. He's special and he's dynamic. So we have to be able to try to contain him. They've got a fantastic running game, a bunch of running backs that can really hit you starting with a true freshman that's one heck of a football player.\r\n

Defensively they are big and they are long and they can get after you. \r\n

Now, for us, we just have to do whatever our guys can do. If we can get like we did last year and get to our big personnel to be able to run the ball efficiently, hey, that's great, we can do that. If we have to spread it out and run and throw and move the football, hey, we have to do that. Nothing is off limits to us. The bottom line for us is our offense needs to be scripted for our players and not just running the offense. \r\n

Q. Kind of a mixed bag on special teams today. You had the run back on the punt, but you also had a blocked punt, missed short field goal. How disconcerting was all of that?\r\n

DAVID SHAW: It's football. It's football. As you and I have talked some, I try really hard not to do the ups and downs. I don't go through the emotional roller coaster. We just coach and evaluate. The field goal, he missed it by six inches. You know, it has to be all the way inside the pole, and if any of the ball is over the top of the pole, it's not a make. \r\n

It was a great, great effort by that young man. We should have had him blocked, absolutely, but great effort by that young man. I didn't see who blocked it but I saw him fight through there and get his hands on the ball. But I think it's our second block or maybe our third block in three years or whatever it is. Great effort by them. We go back and make sure our protection is solid as it can be, make sure our operation time is as quick as it can be. We came back and had two more punts, and they were great.\r\n

Q. You had spectacular success in sacks today. Could you walk us through what you guys saw in their offensive scheme that allowed you to do that?\r\n

DAVID SHAW: First and foremost, I think a lot of the sacks came through coverage. I thought Alex Carter played one heck of a football game. He was really, really good today. Our rotation of corners on the other side, both Ronnie Harris and Wayne Lyons played extremely well. Our nickel played well. I think our defensive backs played well and forced the quarterback to hold the ball because a lot of those sacks weren't within two seconds, some were within four or four and a half seconds. So we had to make him get off his first read and go to the second read, and that's coverage. Yeah, we chased him down. The guys were relentless out there, and they know what's what we have to do. Against this team, you'd better get after the quarterback because he'll sit back there and really kill you. \r\n

Q. With Jordan's struggles this year kicking the ball, he missed a field goal the first half, but in the fourth quarter he had a chance and nailed it. How big is it for his confidence to be able to get that? \r\n

DAVID SHAW: It's a big thing with Jordan. Jordan, he's really matured a lot. I wish we made more than we missed too many for the year still, but he doesn't go through the ups and downs. He comes back, he works extremely hard, and we want to give him those opportunities because right now he's our guy. He's our guy, and we've got to put him out there. He's done phenomenal on kickoffs, and when he's in rhythm, as a field goal kicker, he's been good. It's our job to keep him in rhythm. \r\n

Q. I just want to ask, how is Zach doing? It looked like he came off the field there. \r\n DAVID SHAW: We'll see. We'll see. We have to send him to have the doctors check him out and see if he's all right. But we'll see if he's available for next week.\r\n

Q. In terms of offense, without giving away secrets, some of these plays you've put in, are these things you've had in the playbook or are these things you schemed up this week?\r\n

DAVID SHAW: Yeah, there weren't really a lot of new plays. I think the flat throw to Christian McCaffrey was kind of the one that we really haven't done in a couple years but it's been in the game plan. Everything else is stuff that we do, things that we've done. But we tried to make sure that we went through the extra effort as coaches to make the game as simple for our guys and as fun for our guys you saw guys out there going out there making plays and running fast and running hard and not be bogged down with a bunch of other stuff. You can call it streamlining, you can call it being player specific, whatever it is, but we're trying to suit our offense to fit our players. \r\n

Q. You talked about a lot of things that you did differently on offense. What are some of the things or one thing in particular you think that really worked and that we'll see more of going forward?\r\n

DAVID SHAW: I think just variety. I think variety. Like I say, we're not going to completely scrap our big personnels and our six and seven offensive linemen packages. We're not going to scrap those. But we can be versatile, so we need to be versatile. We've got a mobile quarterback, so we have to have some gun runs, we have to have some where he escapes the pocket. We have a multitude of backs that have a bunch of different strengths, so we have to lean toward each one of their strengths and not feel like this game plan doesn't suit this game so this guy doesn't play. We can't do that anymore. We have to be able to say here's what Barry has got, here's what Remound has, here's what Kelsey has, here's what all of our guys have, here's what Christian has, here's what we're doing for Devin and Ty. And it's a little extra effort for the coaches, but it's worth it so our guys can play fast and make plays.\r\n

Q. Going back to Mariota, saying he's the best player in college football the last couple years, how has he improved as a quarterback, not just an athlete?\r\n

DAVID SHAW: Well, I think you see it with what did he just throw his first interception of the year last night? He's so accurate and he gets the ball out of his hands. He does not throw into coverage, he reads things and you see his composure. You see his composure because he knows if he needs to escape, nobody can catch him. So he has very good composure. They have a young offensive line and have had to rotate some guys in there, and they've had to take care of those guys. But he can they've got Devin Allen, they've got speed outside. He can beat you from the pocket so we have to make sure we keep him in the pocket as best we can and try to collapse the pocket because he can get outside and hurt you.\r\n

Q. How important is that versatility to having success and being able to put that on film for a team like Oregon to have to account for this week, and just showing them a variety of things that work? Does that free up maybe just your basic power?\r\n

DAVID SHAW: Possibly. Possibly. And if that's an unintended result, that's great. But for us, it was about us. It was about finding some rhythm on the offensive side. It was about us getting some positive mojo going and feeling good about what we have as players and taking some mental load off of them and really getting them to go out there and play fast, and they did that today.\r\n

Q. [Troy Clardy.] Five touchdowns, four of them 37 yards or longer, including the punt return, as well. Is it kind of a relief to see the big, explosive plays get into the end zone and finally have that return?\r\n

DAVID SHAW: Yes, because those are the types of players that we have. It's great. I'd love to march down the field six, seven yards at a time and pound somebody and run it in from the 2 yard line every time, but we've got some guys now that can score from a distance. When we have the opportunities. And I feel bad for Rector; we had a couple great plays for him. Some didn't get called, and the coverage changed on us, but he's that kind of guy, also. We can score from distance. I think we put that on film today. \r\n

Q. I'm not sure how good of a look you have at the defensive line from the sideline, but how do you think that Harrison Phillips and some of the guys that are filling in for the injured players performed?\r\n

DAVID SHAW: I'm not sure until I see for sure on film, but I heard their names called a lot. I think Harrison made a couple nice plays. I saw him get some knock backs as we talked about inside. Nate Lohn played well, also, and those guys. They haven't seen a lot of time, but they went in, they took the preparation very seriously. \r\n

I also have to commend David Parry. David Parry knew he was going to miss this game, and he was an extra coach. He sat next to Harrison Phillips all week in the meetings, talked to him, encouraged him, gave him positive feedback as well as things that he could do better, so it was like having another coach, and that's how much respect our guys have for David Parry. Hopefully David can play next week. If he can't, he'll play that same role for us up in Oregon.\r\n

Q. And along the lines of injury, I know Zach Hoffpauir left and Kevin Palma did, too. Do you have an update on them?\r\n

DAVID SHAW: Not yet. Not yet. We'll see the next couple days how they're doing.\r\n

\r\n\r\n

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Emphasis added here:

\"Now, for us, we just have to do whatever our guys can do. If we get like we did last year and get to our big personnel to be able to run the ball efficiently, do that. If we have to spread it out and run and throw and move the football, do that. Nothing is off limits to us. The bottom line for us is our offense needs to be scripted for our players and not just running the offense.\" - Coach Shaw

After squandering a shot at a national championship and a defense up to the task, Coach Shaw and his staff grudgingly went to what we'd been asking for months: no-huddle, more Barry Sanders and Christian McCaffrey, more spread it out. Lo and behold, it worked and rather well, against a defense that isn't world-beating, but looked really good statistically before today, and is far better than Arizona State, for example.

But notice the \"can\" versus the \"have to\" in Shaw's paragraph above, which I think is telling. If they *have* to go no-huddle, four-wide, run McCaffrey and Sanders more -- all the things we thought all along would work rather well and now have the proof to back it up, then they will. But they would *rather* run up the middle; that's where their comfort lays.

Why does it have to be this way? Why have an intrinsic preference for Play X over Play Y so strong that you only go to Play Y only after you've lost, conservatively, two games this year thanks to X, and grudgingly so at that?

Why not realize, as Shaw argued elsewhere in the presser, that your identity is about a playing style -- with physicality, through the echo of the whistle, with a dominant defense -- that should be robust to different play calls.

Also, a lot of this \"identity\" mumbo jumbo is after-the-fact analysis. No one would notice this new physical \"identity\" if we went 4-8 every year -- Stanford wouldn't have any identity then. A good 90% of this physical \"identity\" is winning a lot of games, and the positive coverage that results from that. So whatever strategy maximizes our chances of victory does the most to promote this identity, bunched in or spread out.

(Also, you’re allowed to form a new identity; heck, you look like even more of an offensive genius that way.)

I understand preferring, all else being equal, wanting to pound the ball since that's what we've done for years, and what the coaches and, to a lesser extent, players have become familiar with. But why be so stubborn that it takes over half a season to make the change that's been plainly evident? Then, even in the face of success, you acknowledge that you'd still be more comfortable pounding the ball up the middle, and are only going to keep spreading it out if they *have* to. Why is opening up the offense like pulling teeth?

It's like we're back in Teddy Roosevelt days and attaching character values to the football plays we call. Running the ball is tough, and manly, and American, and the spread, the zone read or any other new concepts are sneaky and communist. (Except the wildcat, because they run that in the NFL now.)

The counter is that Kevin Hogan is erratic and so passing becomes an adventure, but I’d argue the solution isn’t turtling up, but rather passing *more*. Hogan had two interceptions, one of them soul-crushing, against Oregon State in the first quarter, but we never trailed because we scored touchdowns every other drive. If we’re going to make mistakes – and we’re not good enough to avoid interceptions, or fumbles, or three-and-outs, or silly penalties no matter the offense – then we need to give ourselves as big a margin for error as possible, rather than hope for perfect execution that isn’t forthcoming, and then lament its absence.

Just like players learn and grow, so too do coaches, and we wish nothing but the best moving forward for Coach Shaw and his team, who have been responsible for great success here already. Here's hoping then that Shaw feels more comfortable adapting his offense to his personnel in the years to come, and finds himself more willing to break the mold.

********** ********** **********

David Shaw: First of all, really good team win, and I think for the first time, really Washington State was close I think for the first time offensively, it felt like us. It felt like what we wanted to have. We ran the ball well, we pass protected. Kevin threw the ball well. They got us on two tough interceptions. One they take the blitz and pop back out on the second one. The other one was just a great move by the linebacker that started to come back inside, then ran out full speed. Great play by them.

But I thought Kevin played extremely well. You saw him as a runner today. He's a dangerous runner. They have to account for him. And the stats won't say it, but I thought Remound Wright played extremely well, just being a pass protector in there but also a run threat.

Our receivers made plays, tight ends made plays, offensive line played well, and when we can support our defense with an offense, we have a chance, and outside of a late touchdown and a short field given to the defense, the defense was phenomenal.

Congrats again to the entire defensive staff, Lance Anderson, but our guys played extremely hard and played extremely well together on the defensive side.

Q. Now 10 0 under your tutelage following a loss. What's been the key to that success bouncing back?

DAVID SHAW: First of all, that's too many losses, but the key is the character of our team. The key is having great kids, great Stanford young men that understand and have perspective, and we talked about it today, I mean, there's a lot of people the world is crashing down around us, and that's fine for people outside of our locker room. In our locker room, it's not. We're in the middle of a football season. There are going to be highs and lows, and the good teams are the ones that bounce back from is losses, bounce back from tough games. They anticipate really good games coming up, and they prepare and go out and play their best. Our guys did that today.

Q. You talked about it just then and you were talking about it earlier this week. Just given everything that's gone on this year, you guys are going to Oregon next week with first place basically on the line. How do you feel about where your team is at going in there?

DAVID SHAW: I told our guys I'll tell you what I told them in the pregame speech this morning. The last time our constituents were nervous about us and not sure what we were going to do, we won three straight games and went to the Rose Bowl last year. The year before when the world was crashing down around us once again, we put our heads down and won eight straight and won the Rose Bowl.

It's a long season. There are a lot of things that happen. We're still growing. We're not a young team necessarily, but we're still a vastly inexperienced team. We don't have a lot of guys some of them playing those roles on offense in particular that are super experienced. Quarterback and two receivers, yeah, and left tackle, and that's about it. So we're still growing through some things, which is why today you saw we did some no huddle, we did some things that suited Kevin. You saw us do some things for Christian McCaffrey, you saw us do some things for Barry Sanders, you saw us do some things for Ty and Rector and Devin Cajuste, and that's what our offense has to be. It doesn't have to be strict paint by numbers. It has to be something that our guys can flourish, and that's our challenge as coaches all the rest of the way. We've got to allow our guys and our athletes and playmakers, allow them an opportunity to affect the outcome of the game.

Q. [The Bootleg’s question.] I wanted to follow up on that last question. Last week you talked about how the offensive output against ASU and some of the earlier teams just wasn't good enough given the talent that you guys have. You talked about how it started with you coaches and you guys wanted to rethink and do things differently. What did you guys try to change this week because obviously you got a much better and much different result.

DAVID SHAW: I think you saw us start the game in no huddle. You saw the tempo. The tempo helps the quarterback. He likes it. The offensive line likes it, the receivers like it, and once again, not overly complicated, relatively simple plays, but letting him have some latitude at the line of scrimmage and then also being able call some plays and have him jump the ball and just hand the ball off and snap it, so some long count, some short count, some run, some passes, and we went out and executed, and that was a big thing for us was this needed to be a high execution game, and I think that it was.

Q. You've had such a distinct identity since you got here. In order to get where you got today, did you have to cede some of that a little bit because you guys didn't look like the Stanford we've known the past couple years. It was still effective but it was different.

DAVID SHAW: And that was the thing honestly was point blank what we had been doing wasn't good enough. We'll never completely scrap who we are and what we've done. We still want to approach every single game as a physical running team, so even though we weren't in two backs and two tight ends some of those runs, some of those runs were still physical. Barry got two and through the line of scrimmage. We got a couple really nice runs in there. Christian got a couple of nice runs.

Our identity still is in how we play, even if we have to be in more single back, but we'll still keep some balance in what we do.

The bottom line for me, as I said before, was doing whatever our guys are comfortable doing, and we have to be able to throw everything else away and just find the ways to get our guys to be effective on game day because that's all that matters.

Q. What was the effect of getting Devin Cajuste back? He had a couple big plays and a big fumble recovery, too, but I was wondering from a blocking standpoint what was his overall contribution?

DAVID SHAW: You know, Devin is 6'4\", he's 225 pounds, and he runs a low 4.5. He's a physical mismatch every single game. He makes big plays down the middle. But if you just play him as a pass receiver, he gets down and blocks you and he's a physical blocker, blocks as well as the tight end. Just having him as an added dimension, it's a tough match up with Michael Rector and Ty Montgomery back outside, also. Once again, if you play too much pass coverage, we give ourselves a chance to run the ball. Devin really opens up a lot of things for us, and it was great to see him back out there.

Q. Harrison Phillips got a lot of playing time today. He started on the line. We also saw Alex Yazdi and Nate Lohn in a meaningful capacity for the first time today. How do you feel about the defensive line depth heading into Oregon where that's going to be so important?

DAVID SHAW: You know, it's going to be extremely important, and those guys have to get ready to play. David Perry is a maybe, maybe not, we'll see; still questionable. It would be great if we could have him, but if we don't, those guys have to strap it up. I thought Harrison played well, I thought Yazdi came in and made some plays. Nate Lohn is a physical kid, strong kid back on the inside, and those guys have to be ready to play.

Q. The last two years against Oregon have kind of been quintessential program wins. You've dominated the ball, dominated the time of possession, done that. Would you mind just peeking ahead? I don't want to discount this win today, but just peek ahead a little bit to how you think you match up against them this year and why you've been successful against them the last two seasons.

DAVID SHAW: You just won't give me 12 hours, will you? The match up with Oregon starts with Marcus Mariota. Forget about what we do an offense, the match up starts with him. Not trying to stop him, trying to contain him as best we can. Every game he's going to be the fastest guy on the field. I don't care what anybody says about other awards; in my opinion he's been the best player, and I've said it repeatedly, the best play in college football the last couple years. He's special and he's dynamic. So we have to be able to try to contain him. They've got a fantastic running game, a bunch of running backs that can really hit you starting with a true freshman that's one heck of a football player.

Defensively they are big and they are long and they can get after you.

Now, for us, we just have to do whatever our guys can do. If we can get like we did last year and get to our big personnel to be able to run the ball efficiently, hey, that's great, we can do that. If we have to spread it out and run and throw and move the football, hey, we have to do that. Nothing is off limits to us. The bottom line for us is our offense needs to be scripted for our players and not just running the offense.

Q. Kind of a mixed bag on special teams today. You had the run back on the punt, but you also had a blocked punt, missed short field goal. How disconcerting was all of that?

DAVID SHAW: It's football. It's football. As you and I have talked some, I try really hard not to do the ups and downs. I don't go through the emotional roller coaster. We just coach and evaluate. The field goal, he missed it by six inches. You know, it has to be all the way inside the pole, and if any of the ball is over the top of the pole, it's not a make.

It was a great, great effort by that young man. We should have had him blocked, absolutely, but great effort by that young man. I didn't see who blocked it but I saw him fight through there and get his hands on the ball. But I think it's our second block or maybe our third block in three years or whatever it is. Great effort by them. We go back and make sure our protection is solid as it can be, make sure our operation time is as quick as it can be. We came back and had two more punts, and they were great.

Q. You had spectacular success in sacks today. Could you walk us through what you guys saw in their offensive scheme that allowed you to do that?

DAVID SHAW: First and foremost, I think a lot of the sacks came through coverage. I thought Alex Carter played one heck of a football game. He was really, really good today. Our rotation of corners on the other side, both Ronnie Harris and Wayne Lyons played extremely well. Our nickel played well. I think our defensive backs played well and forced the quarterback to hold the ball because a lot of those sacks weren't within two seconds, some were within four or four and a half seconds. So we had to make him get off his first read and go to the second read, and that's coverage. Yeah, we chased him down. The guys were relentless out there, and they know what's what we have to do. Against this team, you'd better get after the quarterback because he'll sit back there and really kill you.

Q. With Jordan's struggles this year kicking the ball, he missed a field goal the first half, but in the fourth quarter he had a chance and nailed it. How big is it for his confidence to be able to get that?

DAVID SHAW: It's a big thing with Jordan. Jordan, he's really matured a lot. I wish we made more than we missed too many for the year still, but he doesn't go through the ups and downs. He comes back, he works extremely hard, and we want to give him those opportunities because right now he's our guy. He's our guy, and we've got to put him out there. He's done phenomenal on kickoffs, and when he's in rhythm, as a field goal kicker, he's been good. It's our job to keep him in rhythm.

Q. I just want to ask, how is Zach doing? It looked like he came off the field there. DAVID SHAW: We'll see. We'll see. We have to send him to have the doctors check him out and see if he's all right. But we'll see if he's available for next week.

Q. In terms of offense, without giving away secrets, some of these plays you've put in, are these things you've had in the playbook or are these things you schemed up this week?

DAVID SHAW: Yeah, there weren't really a lot of new plays. I think the flat throw to Christian McCaffrey was kind of the one that we really haven't done in a couple years but it's been in the game plan. Everything else is stuff that we do, things that we've done. But we tried to make sure that we went through the extra effort as coaches to make the game as simple for our guys and as fun for our guys you saw guys out there going out there making plays and running fast and running hard and not be bogged down with a bunch of other stuff. You can call it streamlining, you can call it being player specific, whatever it is, but we're trying to suit our offense to fit our players.

Q. You talked about a lot of things that you did differently on offense. What are some of the things or one thing in particular you think that really worked and that we'll see more of going forward?

DAVID SHAW: I think just variety. I think variety. Like I say, we're not going to completely scrap our big personnels and our six and seven offensive linemen packages. We're not going to scrap those. But we can be versatile, so we need to be versatile. We've got a mobile quarterback, so we have to have some gun runs, we have to have some where he escapes the pocket. We have a multitude of backs that have a bunch of different strengths, so we have to lean toward each one of their strengths and not feel like this game plan doesn't suit this game so this guy doesn't play. We can't do that anymore. We have to be able to say here's what Barry has got, here's what Remound has, here's what Kelsey has, here's what all of our guys have, here's what Christian has, here's what we're doing for Devin and Ty. And it's a little extra effort for the coaches, but it's worth it so our guys can play fast and make plays.

Q. Going back to Mariota, saying he's the best player in college football the last couple years, how has he improved as a quarterback, not just an athlete?

DAVID SHAW: Well, I think you see it with what did he just throw his first interception of the year last night? He's so accurate and he gets the ball out of his hands. He does not throw into coverage, he reads things and you see his composure. You see his composure because he knows if he needs to escape, nobody can catch him. So he has very good composure. They have a young offensive line and have had to rotate some guys in there, and they've had to take care of those guys. But he can they've got Devin Allen, they've got speed outside. He can beat you from the pocket so we have to make sure we keep him in the pocket as best we can and try to collapse the pocket because he can get outside and hurt you.

Q. How important is that versatility to having success and being able to put that on film for a team like Oregon to have to account for this week, and just showing them a variety of things that work? Does that free up maybe just your basic power?

DAVID SHAW: Possibly. Possibly. And if that's an unintended result, that's great. But for us, it was about us. It was about finding some rhythm on the offensive side. It was about us getting some positive mojo going and feeling good about what we have as players and taking some mental load off of them and really getting them to go out there and play fast, and they did that today.

Q. [Troy Clardy.] Five touchdowns, four of them 37 yards or longer, including the punt return, as well. Is it kind of a relief to see the big, explosive plays get into the end zone and finally have that return?

DAVID SHAW: Yes, because those are the types of players that we have. It's great. I'd love to march down the field six, seven yards at a time and pound somebody and run it in from the 2 yard line every time, but we've got some guys now that can score from a distance. When we have the opportunities. And I feel bad for Rector; we had a couple great plays for him. Some didn't get called, and the coverage changed on us, but he's that kind of guy, also. We can score from distance. I think we put that on film today.

Q. I'm not sure how good of a look you have at the defensive line from the sideline, but how do you think that Harrison Phillips and some of the guys that are filling in for the injured players performed?

DAVID SHAW: I'm not sure until I see for sure on film, but I heard their names called a lot. I think Harrison made a couple nice plays. I saw him get some knock backs as we talked about inside. Nate Lohn played well, also, and those guys. They haven't seen a lot of time, but they went in, they took the preparation very seriously.

I also have to commend David Parry. David Parry knew he was going to miss this game, and he was an extra coach. He sat next to Harrison Phillips all week in the meetings, talked to him, encouraged him, gave him positive feedback as well as things that he could do better, so it was like having another coach, and that's how much respect our guys have for David Parry. Hopefully David can play next week. If he can't, he'll play that same role for us up in Oregon.

Q. And along the lines of injury, I know Zach Hoffpauir left and Kevin Palma did, too. Do you have an update on them?

DAVID SHAW: Not yet. Not yet. We'll see the next couple days how they're doing.

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