Stanford took the field under near-summer like conditions and gave us another glimpse at the progress they’ve made as their first two-week session of spring football came to a close today. With Coach Shaw alleviating any of the pressure to make decisions regarding personnel this spring, the Cardinal was free to experiment during its five-minute scrimmage intervals today.
It was K.J. Costello’s turn today to run the first-team offense while Ryan Burns ran the second unit. There were some plays made, but truthfully the ball wasn’t coming out of either’s hands cleanly. Both QB’s did get to showcase a variety of throw lengths, and both made some timing throws of a type worth discussing.
Costello challenged Quenton Meeks on a deep go route down the left sideline and the ball hung up way too long for a corner of Meeks’ ability. Showtime couldn’t corral it, though he would tell you that he should have. This was in contrast to the success Burns had hitting Donald Stewart on a pass that again, wasn’t a great spiral, but which dropped in perfectly over the pretty decent coverage of Alameen Murphy.
The most encouraging aspect of the day was that both quarterbacks had a good feel and a quick release on slant routes, which of course have long been the pillar of the classic West Coast Offense. The throws didn’t come out of the three-step drop, but both players delivered strikes, most often to Trenton Irwin, who had a really strong showing today. Irwin’s great hands were on display, as was his peerless route running.
I timed both quarterbacks, and both were getting rid of the ball in under three seconds most of the time. Coach Shaw acknowledged how much of a priority it was this spring to get better at getting the ball out, and Coach Pritchard emphasized the extent to which the coaches are trying to get both players’ internal clocks set appropriately even though the threat of contact has been removed during live plays.
So Costello had the pick, and Burns’ “Oops” moment occurred when he fumbled a snap under center, in what had to be an unsettling flashback to the play in last year’s Colorado game that could very well have been the deciding trigger in Coach Shaw’s decision to replace him with Keller Chryst.
Chryst made a cameo appearance today, as did Bryce Love. Casey Tucker also stayed on the sidelines and out of pads, though Coach Shaw said it was just a response to Tucker’s “getting banged up” the previous day. If it had been a game day, Coach Shaw said that Tucker in all likelihood could have played. Dalton Schultz was limited to no contact, which opened up opportunities for Kaden Smith and Scooter Harrington. All indications are Stanford will be rediscovering its famed multiple tight end sets come the fall.
Stanford’s starting offensive line went A.T. Hall, Nate Herbig, Jesse Burkett, Brandon Fanaika, and David Bright left to right. The second group consisted of Devery Hamilton, Nick Wilson, Brian Chaffin, Dylan Powell, and Jack Dreyer. The run game had some fits and starts against a fairly basic 3-4 look from the Cardinal defense. Cameron Scarlett continues to improve running inside the tackles, and Dorian Maddox got some looks as well. Scarlett scored on a run to the left that featured a tremendous seal block from Reagan Williams. Trevor Speights also got touches today.
Mike Tyler and Peter Kalambayi were able to generate some edge pressure and also some edge seals which short-circuited just about every attempt at running wide from Stanford’s offense. Overall, the pass protection was good, and with both quarterbacks getting rid of the ball in a timely manner, the Cardinal offense looked pretty functional for the majority of the day.
Finally, Jet Toner and Collin Riccitelli got some time alternating field goals. Both made their kicks easily until the distance reached 41 yards, at which point each missed from down the middle Toner went wide right and Riccitelli went wide left respectively. When the ball was moved back to 47, interestingly, both were once again true.
The ultimate takeaway as Coach Shaw noted is that nobody got hurt, and every day Stanford completes without incident is a step forward spring’s biggest goal: survival.