Chryst is finally getting first-team snaps in practice
The newly minted starting quarterback said Wednesday that this is his first week in which he’s taken the majority of first-team snaps at quarterback in practice, up from anywhere from 10 to 50 percent when he was the backup quarterback.
He’s never really looked comfortable or poised as a passer this season in game situations, but perhaps that’s been more of an indication of the lack of preparation he’s gotten at full speed in practice with his actual in-game playmakers and the fact that he hasn’t had the ability to gel with them as much yet.
With a full week of practice under his belt as the primary quarterback and a definite lack of any quarterback competition between him and Ryan Burns moving forward, it seems clear that the Keller Chryst we’ll see on Saturday should have much better timing with his receivers and a better feel for the game thanks to the increased practice load.
Granted, Stanford isn’t going to ask him to go out there, put on a cape, and save the day – but hopefully he’ll be able to show off his cannon arm and throw some good deep balls as well while still playing within the Cardinal’s system to just provide some – any – spark to this horrendously struggling offense.
"You're not going to go out there and try to be Superman,” Chryst said. “You're just going to go out there and try to execute the offense to the best of your abilities."
Other than that, though, the interview (shown above) doesn’t really yield much – he’s a quieter guy that doesn’t really carry conversation all too well with the media (yet).
Alameen Murphy is ready to take over… again
Alameen Murphy has been in this exact situation before. Twice.
Last season, when both Ronnie Harris and Alijah Holder went down with injuries, Alameen had to step up and start at cornerback down the stretch at the end of the year, but it was clear that he and Terrence Alexander were a big step down from Harris and Holder, who might have been the best cornerback duo in the conference.
This year, he’s already had to step in once when both Holder and Quenton Meeks went down before the Washington game a few weeks ago – and he’s looked much improved in that limited action before the returns of both Meeks and Holder, with better instincts, a quicker first step, and a much more physical release against opposing receivers when asked to do so.
Now, with Holder sidelined for the rest of the season with a recurring shoulder injury that the coaching staff is unwilling to rush back again, either Murphy or Frank Buncom is going to have to step up in a much bigger role as a starting cornerback.
"I think I've been put in this predicament a lot of times,” Murphy said. “Even earlier this year and last year, with Alijah and Ronnie, and I feel like I've continued to grow each time. I've continued to pick up the pieces, and my job is to make sure there's little to no drop-off. I'm not trying to be Alijah or be anybody who I come in to replace. I just do my job and do it to the best of my ability."
Both Muprhy and Buncom, who has impressed in his first collegiate action this season, will still play alongside Meeks in Stanford’s rotation, but who will play more is yet to be determined – Lance Anderson and Duane Akina will make that decision on Friday.
With a lot of spread offenses still yet to come on the schedule (Cal, Oregon most notable among them), Stanford is going to find itself in nickel and dime looks much more than it would be comfortable with only three healthy cornerbacks that can play without the Cardinal needing to burn some redshirts, meaning that its trademark rotation at defensive back is going to be mitigated for the remainder of the season.
Terrence Alexander will likely split time with Zach Hoffpauir and Justin Reid at nickel, but we’re likely going to see Meeks on pretty much every down, with some rotation happening between Buncom and Murphy, which is going to be a big increase in workload for the latter two especially, which only adds to the burden of having to start and play a much larger number of snaps per game.
Despite the big loss in the secondary, Anderson still feels that the running game is the area of the defense that needs to make the bigger improvement this week in order to stop a multifaceted Arizona attack that’s set to grow more dynamic with the return of two quarterbacks (which will mean the Wildcats will no longer have to put a backup tight end in at quarterback), including the dual-threat Brandon Dawkins, who almost led Arizona to a home upset of Washington earlier this season.
Anderson felt that the gap integrity just wasn’t there against Colorado from the front seven on Saturday, which he described as more of an execution lapse than a preparation lapse – but given that he expects to see many of the same running looks from Arizona this weekend, he’s making sure in this week of practice that his defense isn’t going to be gashed two weeks in a row by the same tricks.
“We've tried to do a better job preparing this week, really slowing it down and teaching the fits there and making sure we're repping those plays plenty of times in practice and not taking it for granted, where hey, we understand and we've seen these before, we know how to fit them,” Anderson said. “We're taking a little extra time this week to make sure that's the case.”
No real changes here. Bright practiced again on Wednesday, and the results were “a little bit better than yesterday,” per Shaw. I’d expect Bright to play in at least a limited capacity on Saturday at Arizona.
Caspers was again held out of practice on Wednesday and Shaw says that he’s “50-50 at best” to play at Arizona. If he hasn’t gotten into practice by this point in the week, though, I’d say that chances of him getting into Saturday’s game are slim to none.
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