If you were an outside observer dropping into Stanford’s practice this week, you would have had no idea that the team was coming off one of its worst blowout losses in the last half-decade.
As the media huddles break out, you can hear lots of cheers and shouting coming from each of the different position groups scattered around the practice field, and after Wednesday’s post-practice team huddle, the players walked away smiling, laughing, joking – as David Shaw has said all week, the players seem to have long since moved on from the devastation in Seattle.
“Hopefully we’re not disillusioned,” Shaw said. “Hopefully it’s maturity and being able to say, ‘You know what, we didn’t play well against a team that played extremely well that’s very talented and well-coached.’”
Let’s be very clear, here: Stanford isn’t USC. Stanford isn’t going to lose one game and freak the hell out and overreact and come out flat for the next month because they’re too busy moping. That’s just not what these players and this program is like.
Shaw has been emphasizing all week that the team is 3-1 through the toughest stretch of its schedule, and just because the team lost by 38 points doesn’t mean that the defeat counts as two losses or something stupid like that – and the team seems to be mature enough to understand that sometimes they’re just going to get outplayed by a better team.
“We look in the mirror and say, ‘Here’s what we did well, here’s what we didn’t do well, here’s what we need to do going forward,’” Shaw said. “The rest of the world can bellyache and whine and complain about it and talk about how terrible of a job that I do, and that’s fine. The bottom line for one of us is that we get another game."
That maturity runs particularly deep this year – with a particularly small senior class on the roster, there’s been a rise in leadership from the younger players on the team, as evidenced, of course, by the team electing true junior captains for the first time since the Harbaugh-Shaw era began. That mindset, even among the youth, has helped Stanford move on from the loss – and they’re looking forward to bouncing back on Saturday.
“With such a small senior class, you get a little nervous that they don’t have the experience around them, but our juniors and sophomores in particular, they’re leaders as well,” Shaw said. “We haven’t had to do a lot of picking those guys back up. These guys have been through a lot.”
My best guess is that Fanaika starts at left guard for most of the game, but Nate Herbig rotates in for short-yardage plays and on one or two drives at guard.
I’m still not expecting to see Tucker on Saturday – I think Stanford might have learned from rushing Holder back for UCLA, and I don’t think it’s worth swapping out on the offensive line among all the position groups if Tucker can’t commit to a full game. David Bright has been working at tackle all week and he should get the start at right tackle.
“Casey’s close,” Shaw said. “He had a good recovery day today and we’ll get on the field tomorrow. He made some progress. I don’t know if he’ll be completely ready, but he’s a possibility.”
“Greg Taboada may have an opportunity,” Shaw said. “We’ll see. He’s close.”
The exact term that Shaw used to describe his starting cornerbacks was “possible, but unlikely.” I wouldn’t expect either of them to play until next week at Notre Dame, but it’s looking like they should be back on the field in South Bend.
Both are “absolutely” out for Saturday’s game.