Starting QB Named for Opener

It has been a hot topic for the last several days, after a disparate pair of performances from Chris Lewis and Trent Edwards at the UC Davis scrimmage. Friday was a day for film evaluation and reflection, but Saturday brought an announcement from head coach Buddy Teevens on the issue. For his decision on the starting quarterback, and other notes from the practice, read on...

The big news of the day is unquestionably the decision by head coach Buddy Teevens on the big quarterback debate.  "Chris Lewis will start next Saturday against San Jose State," the head man told The Bootleg after practice.  "Trent Edwards will go into the ballgame in the first half, as well.  Both have been very competitive this camp, and both have improved.  Chris has the advantage of experience, but Trent also does some things very well.  The team has great confidence in both, and after we see what both can do in the game, we'll know which guy can take us from there."

The decision is a vote of confidence for the fifth-year senior, despite his ailing back this week.  Lewis said after the Saturday practice that his back is "coming along," and it comes as know surprise that the smiling senior is full of confidence.  But injury or no, there is a clear plan for Teevens and his offensive staff to evaluate which of the two QBs can best move the ball for this football team.

Though Edwards has set his sights on winning a starting job on this team, he is very gracious about a role behind his senior counterpart.  "Of course I'd like to start and play," he comments.  "But at this point, it doesn't bother me to not start.  Seriously, I just want to win football games."

Quarterbacks coach Bill Cubit feels that both quarterbacks showed some positives Thursday, but both clearly showed a lot to improve as they reviewed film.  "You could tell that Chris was just trying so hard out there," Cubit says.  "And Trent hadn't played a football game in two years, so there were some little things for him to work on, like his drops and calls.  Chris was bothered a bit by his back, but it's a real tribute to him that he wanted to play anyway."

For the fans who were in attendance at the scrimmage, there were questions about the playcalling and nature of this offense.  The word "vanilla" has been used over and over, which brings a chuckle to Cubit.  "It was very basic - what we did out there," he comments.  "We just wanted to let guys face somebody else and get experience.  We achieved exactly what we wanted to do, but were not going to show our offense to people we knew would be in the stands.  There was no downside to things that went poorly.  It was like playing our first game, but not having it count.  You get to correct mistakes but don't hurt yourself making them.  Your biggest improvement always comes between the first and second game, so we're looking forward to next weekend."

In other depth chart news, Trevor Hooper appears to still have the lead for the starting strong safety position.  He had a solid performance in the Davis scrimmage Thursday, which did nothing to hurt his case.  This morning, he took most all the snaps with the first team defense.

This was also the first day of game preparation by Stanford for their season opener next Saturday against San Jose State.  As such, this was the first practice of the season that was conducted with scout teams rather than a free-flowing mix of players up and down the depth chart seen during the three weeks of camp.  The scout team is roughly tantamount to what has been the third team for both the offense and defense, though there are some non-scout team positions that run three or four deep.  The scout team is also primarily manned by freshmen at this time, though a couple of players on the fence for playing this year struck me:

  • Michael Horgan received work with the first and second team offense, rather than the scout team work you would anticipate.  This bolsters the belief that Horgan is on the cusp of playing this fall, and is in all likelihood one TE injury away from burning his redshirt.  As such, he is getting work with the "regular" offense to keep him prepared for that day.
  • Evan Moore certainly has the go-ahead to play right now from the football coaches, but he is going through the well-publicized debate of playing versus redshirting.  The issue hanging in the balance is what kind of start and experience he can have with Stanford Basketball, and my belief is that Moore is leaning toward taking the football redshirt this year.  Well, in today's practice, he worked out exclusively with the scout offense.  That would seem consistent with his taking a redshirt.

Other observations from the practice:

Special teams once again received a good amount of attention at today's practice, and the highlight note was the booming punts from Eric Johnson.  He sent balls regularly 45-60 yards with tremendous hangtime...

The practice was conducted in shorts, which meant that live hitting and full tackling was not in effect.  Thus, the running game couldn't show much.  But the offense had a good day throwing the ball.  As expected, Lewis and Edwards dominated the repetitions, and both made crisp throws in the practice.  Receivers did a good job getting open, and the ball moved down the field.  I do see some inconsistency on the truly timing-dependent routes, though, which is an area for both QBs to address.

The best receiving plays of the day came from different players.  Luke Powell and Nick Sebes both pulled down long balls along the right sideline against T.J. Rushing, while both Justin McCullum and Mark Bradford made catches in the open field and then put sick moves to beat tacklers and get upfield.  The defensive backs were not without big plays themselves, though.  Marcus McCutcheon made a perfect play on a ball that hit McCullum in the hands but was instantly knocked out by the redshirt freshman free safety.  McCutcheon recorded an interception several plays later on a ball by Lewis...

This was a day where I could get a good view of the OL vs DL one-on-one battles, and I have many to report.  They may be tedious to the casual observer, but they are a great look at how the linemen are performing without having to isolate on them during scrimmage action.  Ismail Simpson over Scott ScharffKirk Chambers over Louis HobsonNick Frank over Mikal BrewerBrian Head over Babatunde OshinowoMatt McClernan over Michael LoveladyAmon Gordon over David BeallAmir Malayery over Udeme UdofiaPreston Clover over Chris HornDrew Caylor over Ian ShelswellWill Svitek over Mike SullivanMike Macellari over Jeff Edwards.  Nick Frank over Brian Head.  Jon Cochran over Taualai FonotiJosiah Vinson over David Jackson.  Babatunde Oshinowo over Drew Caylor.  Udeme Udofia over David Long.  Chris Horn over Merlin Brittenham.

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