Game week is here and Stanford is in full preparation to open the season against Northwestern. That includes 9am practice times on Tuesday and Wednesday. The team will fly to Chicago on Thursday after practice to get ready for the Saturday morning game. But to what everyone wants to talk about, the depth chart for game one.
Rollins Stallworth will the start at split end. Michael Rector will play in the game. Coach David Shaw would not expand on if this has to do with the disciplinary issue that kept Rector out of practice for a week. I'm pretty sure anyone looking at the situation from the outside will say yes it does. Shaw would not expand on when Rector would play. After a quarter? A half? After a series? We'll all wait and find out together.
The other wide receiver position is expected to be shared by Devon Cajuste and Francis Owusu. Shaw says Cajuste is "coming along" and he does anticipate him playing but conditioning wise he wouldn't be ready for a full game anyway. Owusu has had a good camp so it will be an interesting rotation.
On defense, Kevin Palma and Jordan Perez will rotate at inside linebacker next to Blake Martinez. Shaw didn't name a starter and didn't think it would matter as they would likely see a similar number of snaps. The rotation will be based on series and not any predetermined packages. That doesn't mean they alternate every other series, it just means when one starts the series they'll end the series.
The same will be at cornerback opposite Ronnie Harris. Alameen Murphy and Alijah Holder will rotate all day long at corner. Shaw has been impressed with both their play during camp.
As for true freshmen playing, Shaw says the four listed on the depth chart will likely play this year, but did not guaranty it. The four players listed are kicker Jake Bailey, safeties Justin Reid and Ben Edwards, and cornerback Quenton Meeks. Shaw said other freshman could play but would not go further than that.
On all the changes and inexperience on defense, Shaw says they're ready.
"Very confident but still uncertain. I feel really good right now about guys playing within the scheme and knowing responsibilities. And also having the talent enough to do it. Our two guys splitting the corner right now with Alijah and Alameen have had great camps. I have all the confidence in the world in those guys going out there and playing extremely well. As a coach you learn not to expect perfection but to push guys toward perfection. High effort and good technique makes up for mistakes. It's not going to be a perfect game but I think those guys are going to play well."
Another big question from camp remains unanswered. Who is the backup quarterback going to be?
"It depends on situation. I think we have an idea of what both guys can do well. If we get to the point, hopefully in a positive way, we get a chance to play those guys, hopefully we'll get a chance to play both of them. We've gone as far as we can evaluating them in practice so it is time to have the opportunity to evaluate some game time. I'd love to come out of this game and have both play a little bit. The score is inconsequential. We have potential plays for both those guys. It's not just if the score gets out of whack. It's two guys that are ready to play and much like we did with Kevin (Hogan), we started rotating Kevin in. We may get to the point where neither guys plays a down. But we have a plan for both guys depending on the situation, I would love to get out of this year with both of those guys playing a lot of significant snaps."
Another position competition that remains unnamed is the starting punter. Shaw says it is up to special teams coach Pete Alamar to decide and there may be an announcement, they may just wait until Saturday and there is a chance that both Bailey and Alex Robinson could both punt in the game.
Another depth chart matter that stuck out was at tight end where Eric Cotton was not listed. "Eric is doing okay," Shaw said. "We're working through a lot of things. But he is doing just fine." Shaw would not elaborate on what the issues were. I did note from the open practices that Cotton was working with the second and third teams.
We'll see how it all works out on Saturday.
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