Stanford's Joshua Garnett and his Protege' David Bright talk about Stanford's trip to the Rose Bowl and all the twists and turns it took to get there.
Like the voice of Mufasa, Joshua Garnett
’s voice rained down from above both David Bright and myself as we talked about Bright’s Big Man Up Moment of 2015 in Corvallis.
“David Bright is the best ogre in college football, David Bright is the best ogre in college football, David Bright is the best ogre in college football….”
In researching my piece on unheralded plays for Stanford Football in 2015, I had a chance to grab the Cardinal’s gigantic and unsurprisingly erudite Redshirt Sophomore to talk about his Corvallis Crucible and the unity along Stanford’s signature position group.
As we started chatting, Garnett’s booming voice rained down upon us from the elevated stage, and of course, all he wanted to do was repeat that mantra, over and over. It was such an emblematic and sweet moment for a team who’s spend most of 2015 in the sunshine, despite doing most of its work in the dark.
Let me set the scene:
Rose Bowl Media Day takes place in a big hotel ball room, and there is a featured stage front where the head coaches hold court, and there are four satellite stages in the corners for the featured players. In Stanford’s case, the Garnett, Hogan, Blake Martinez
, and Ronnie Harris
sat on the elevated, spotlighted, and microphoned stages while the rest of the team sat at tables in the center of the room like tweens at a middle school dance waiting for a media suitor.
So here Bright and I stand within Garnett’s sight line, and while on camera and mic’d, Garnett goes into his mantra. It’s a great moment you can hear in the audio above. Here’s how my chat with Bright went:
RJ: So, Oregon State. Kyle Murphy
goes down, and I think you got slotted in there at left tackle for the rest of the game. What was that transition like? That was a pretty tight game at the half…
DB: Well, like you said, I was already playing in the game, so I just transitioned over to left tackle. It wasn’t smooth, but there a few things I’d have liked to have cleaned up of course, but overall that was a good game, a good game for us offensively, and that transition’s something I’d been preparing for mentally, just being ready to go, in case it ever it happens because as a number two guy, you always have to be ready for that instance.
RJ: I know you want to be comfortable at every spot, but are you starting to get comfortable at that tackle spot? Do you see that maybe as the future for you?
DB: Yeah, it’s kind of wherever I’m getting reps at is where I’m most comfortable, but either position like I was saying, so lately I’ve been taking more reps at tackle, so that’s where I’m most comfortable, but if they want to move me to guard, I’ll just have to get up to speed there.
RJ: I’ve heard a lot of former Stanford Offensive Linemen say that in college it’s the hand work….(Mufasa’s Voice Rains Over) Well, there you go, I guess we don’t even have to talk about anything else! Why aren’t you on stage for the Ogre?
DB: (Laughing)No, that’s not me….
RJ: No, but talk about your game. Where it’s come from that Oregon State game until now, the hands, the feet, where do you think is your strength and where’s the place you’d like to get better?
DB: This season, and in this past few weeks while we’ve been in bowl prep, one thing I’ve been working on is my pass pro, I feel that’s my biggest area for improvement in. Also my hands as well, having tight hands that’s one of my areas I need improvement in. But you know, it’s just coming out each day, trying to get better out there so eventually I can come in and start. That’s my goal for next year of course, but I’ve been loving the position I’ve been in this year, just helping this team out in any way I can.
RJ: Can you talk about what you’ve learned from the guys, Kyle, Joshua Garnett, you guys are obviously a very supportive group of one another but talk about what you’re gonna take from those guys moving forward.
DB: Definitely. This offensive line is honestly the closest group I’ve had here so far, and everyone just gets along, and everyone’s always pushing each other to be the best they can, and these guys have been great leaders for us younger guys, I’m a Junior/Redshirt Sophomore. There’s little things they do every day that help us out and it’s been outstanding. The communication down from our Seniors, our fifth year guys, all the way down to our Freshmen, has been outstanding, and when you look at those guys and what they’ve done for this program it just motivates you because you want to do your best each an d every day.
RJ: Coach Shaw talked about last year when things weren’t going so well he find like you had kind of lost the joy of playing the game, and this year…spend any amount of time around you guys and it seems pretty clear you guys found the joy of playing football . Talk about that, and how did they help you guys get through 13 games, because it’s a grind one way or the other right?
DB: It was the start of the season and in the offseason where I feel like we really decided were gonna be tight as a group and I feel like that’s completely held up so far throughout the season, and just us being that close together it just makes it easy to go out there and fight for one another out on that field each and every play. So it’s been great, and this year so far has been an absolute blast and a journey and it’s gone by so quick. I wish we had a couple more games but I’m really looking forward to this Rose Bowl Game, the last one out there.
RJ: Yeah, and talk about the meaning behind this game. I mean, everything changes in a world where there’s a college football playoff but this is still Rose Bowl Game, this is still the game everyone knows about.
DB: Right? This is the Grandaddy of Them All, as everyone was saying, so we’re absolutely thrilled to be here, third time in four years of course. I came here Freshman year when I was redshirting so now coming back my junior year, being able to actually play and get out there on the field is gonna be something special, and this team’s ready for it. We’re excited.
RJ: So take me into some of the X and O’s, because everyone tells me the smart guys are on the offensive line (Bright laughs)..a lot has been said about the way you guys have kind of diversified the run game this year. It hasn’t exactly been the traditional Stanford, just run Power 45 times, talk about how the run game has changed and evolved this year, based on who you guys are and the guy you got running the ball.
DB: Yeah we’ve taken some schemes from some NFL teams, but like you were saying we run a lot of different offensive schemes up there. We found some really great plays that work for us, and we just stuck to those and being able to mix that up I think it really helps us and offensive line this year has done a great job of putting it on film and really take advantage of those different schemes. When we’re asked to run Power we love it, but we’re also running a lot of zone, stuff like that, so it’s been a great year.
RJ: As a lineman do you have a preference?
DB: Honestly I do not. Whatever play they run, when you’re in there you want to do the best job that you can, so whatever they call I want to run it.
RJ: And talk about getting that last yard. One of the ways you guys have improved is in the Red Zone, and a big part of that is Remound finishing off those drives, getting a lot of heat for being a Touchdown Vulture, but from your point of view when you guys are that one yard away, do you even want any other play called besides, just straight up, ‘let’s get this done’?
DB: Yeah, if you talk to any of the guys they’re gonna tell you we want that one call, if we got to get that one yard to gain, with our backs and their vision and our will to get that one yard, I’d bet on us almost every time, and we love that feeling on our shoulders, that we just need that one yard to move them to get a touchdown or another first down? We love that feeling.
RJ: And how much success does it take in practice, during the offseason, and during the season before you get to the point where, you go, ‘No, coach, that’s the play to get that one yard’?
DB: Whatever play they call, we feel like we’re gonna line up, run that play, and get that yard.
After talking to Garnett and Bright, the big takeaway is that one word, over, and over: The Team, The Team, The Team. These guys just love playing together, and they truly love one another. It’s a family in every sense of the word, from the “Mufasas” to the “Simbas” on the offensive line, and the lions in the trenches are poised to make Stanford Rose Bowl Kings once more.