Personnel News & Notes

There are plenty of global issues for discussion with this football team, but a specialty of <i>The Bootleg</i> is keeping you up to date with all of the tidbits and developments with this 93-man roster. Read on for all the happenings this week in practice, including a rising role for Michael Craven and Nick Frank. Also some troubling new injuries and updates on old ailments...

  • If you're wondering what kind of progress Trent Edwards is making at the quarterback position, the answer is "very little."  He has not picked up a football in any practice yet this week.  It is hard to tell how much is the physical suffering of the injury and how much is Edwards' psychological reaction to his bruised shoulder.  This is a quarterback who has enjoyed a football career with next-to-no injuries, so he doesn't for sure know how to react to this setback.  He has no frame of reference for how he should push things with his right shoulder and start throwing the ball.  Best case scenario right now is that Edwards manages a little light throwing at today's practice.  But there is almost no chance that he will be ready to take that #2 role behind Chris Lewis on Saturday.  Kyle Matter will be the backup in Eugene.  The only question for Edwards is if he travels and suits up to be an emergency #4 QB behind Lewis, Matter and Ryan Eklund.  For the record, I don't believe the publicly proclaimed diagnosis of a sprained shoulder is correct.  The AC joint is bruised.
  • Another unfortunate report of non-progress on the injury front comes with strong safety Timi Wusu.  That knee injury he suffered back in September in the season opener against San Jose State turns out to be a partial tear of his PCL.  You often hear about the ACL and MCL, but this is the posterior cruciate ligament.  The strength of the knee has improved, and Wusu can move and jog successfully.  But when it comes time for him to do any sprinting, the knee won't support him.  "We were hoping I could return for the USC game," Wusu informs.  "But that didn't happen and at this point we don't know when it will happen."  The redshirt sophomore can best be described as a week-by-week situation, and it is unknown if he will be healthy anytime soon.  I would not be surprised if he does not return this season.  Before you ask if he can take a medical redshirt, be reminded that he took a non-injury voluntary redshirt his first year in 2001.  The NCAA does not grant a sixth year for athletes unless extenuating circumstances forced two redshirt years.  A voluntary redshirt almost always blows that out of the water.
  • If you have attended a practice either of the last couple days, you might have wondered why some of Stanford's top running backs have taken handoffs with the scout team, including starter Kenneth Tolon.  Well, freshman tailback Jason Evans is banged up right now and unable to take the lead on the scout running attack that he has led all season.  Fourth string tailback Gerald Commissiong has been in an out of action this week as well.  "The Commish" did take more work Wednesday than Tuesday though, running plays despite donning a yellow jersey.
  • Speaking of running backs, look for Tolon to again start this week.  But also look for J.R. Lemon to see an increased role with more snaps.  He earned it with a very solid performance against Washington State.  Buddy Teevens says that we will see more David Marrero as well, but I'll believe it when I see it.  Juggling three running backs and maximizing their different strengths is a tall order, and this staff has yet to deliver.
  • The position in the most trouble this week has been the defensive interior, where Stanford has been without several DTs.  Without naming names, no less than three DTs were held out of practice Wednesday.  One is a holdover from a minor injury last Saturday; another rolled his ankle in practice Tuesday.  Both however are expected to be in full action for the Oregon game, but a third tackle has a knee injury that could be bad news.  An MRI is pending but this player may be lost for the year if results come back as expected.  More details to come...
  • Those injuries in the defensive interior have thrust true freshman Nick Frank into a "starting" position each of the last two practices, so I thought I would catch up with him and see how he evaluates his progress adjusting to the college game these past couple months.  "I'm really just trying to learn from the older guys.  I'm surrounded by guys with a lot of experience I can draw from," the New Orleans native describes.  "There are a lot of small things - some tricks for pass rush and some pointers on positioning...  The biggest thing I've realized between the college and high school game is speed.  I'm a little undersized at this size today, and size matters, but the speed has opened my eyes the most.  I'm definitely more used to it now than at the beginning of the season...  I don't get in the offensive backfield as much as I did in high school, but it's not frustration.  It just reminds me I need to work hard.  It's a catalyst for me to keep working harder and harder...  I'm ready to go if they would need me to start this weekend, but I don't expect that.  These guys are just trying to get healthy."
  • Also of note in the trenches, I watched some one-on-one battles between OL and DL on Wednesday.  Here are a few of the more notable highlights:  Jon Cochran pushed Julian Jenkins outside on a speed rush on the edge, but later Jenkins came back with a bull rush and went right over and through the 6'7" offensive tackle...  Ian Shelswell ran right over Tim Mattran and later made his way to the tackling bag past Drew Caylor...  Nick Frank blew right threw Mikal Brewer up the middle...  Does Kirk Chambers ever get beaten?  He handled Louis Hobson pushing him well outside of the pocket on an attempted edge rush...  Will Svitek had a good day against the right tackles, muscling past both Cochran and Mike Sullivan...  One of the most even battles came with Michael Lovelady against Ismail Simpson.  Lovelady got outside Ish's right shoulder after a second and change, but the guard didn't truly lose the battle given that the center would have picked up the block after that point.
  • As you hit the midpoint in the season, you look for which players are emerging from their reserve roles on the depth chart.  Probably the most outstanding such move last Saturday came from "Will" linebacker Michael Craven.  He was in for approximately 35 plays and produced three tackles, including one lightning strike for a seven-yard loss on a pass play in the first half.  "He continues to emerge," Buddy Teevens comments. "His athleticism and his grasp defensively is locked into what we're doing. We'll continue to see him."  That grasp is the key to unlock Craven's potential, as he is attempts to bring his mental game up to the level of his physical abilities.  "I'm doing a better job knowing my assignments," the redshirt sophomore LB confirms.  "It was tough to come in late this preseason, and then at a fourth string position.  I didn't have many plays and I was catching up all the time.  Week by week, though, I'm getting better.  In the back of my mind now, I know what to do on plays.  That's big...  What I need to do better is practice with the intensity of games.  Tuesday is by far my toughest day.  I need to practice like I want to play - the whole week, from Tuesday through Friday."
  • Oregon coach Mike Bellotti has been reminded that Chris Lewis is returning to Autzen Stadium, where the Cardinal QB played an instrumental role in a historic and shocking comeback in 2001 to end the Ducks' 23-game home winning streak and national championship aspirations.  The 4th quarter comeback from a 42-28 deficit was a signature moment for the Pac-10 that year, but Bellotti remains reticent toward giving Lewis and the Card credit for that win.  "Mr. Lewis had a nice game here last time, in the second half as I recall," the coach begins.  "He was the beneficiary of a couple turnovers which hopefully won't happen again."
  • If you think Stanford won't need to dip into their quarterback depth this week, think again.  In each of the last two trips to Eugene, Stanford has seen its starting quarterback knocked out.  Randy Fasani and Kyle Matter both left the field in the 2001 and 2002 games, respectively.
  • If you are curious who is play which role on the scout teams this week, here are a few of the impersonations seen on the practice field:  David Lofton as Sammie Parker... Brandon Royster as Demetrius Williams... Pat Jacobs as Matthew Floberg... Michael Horgan as Tim Day... Emmanuel Awofadeju as Igor Olshansky... Udeme Udofia as Devan Long... David Jackson as Junior Siavii... Chris Horn as Robby Valenzuela... Nick Sanchez as Steven Moore... Michael Okwo as Kevin Mitchell... Peter Griffin as Marley Tucker... Brian Bentrott as Keith Lewis.
  • Tuesday kicker Michael Sgroi was absolutely destroying punts.  The kicking specialists often do their own thing on an adjacent practice field, while organized special teams drills are not conducted.  Typically that means practice on long snaps, kicks and punts.  Sgroi has never been thought as a punter on this team, but watching what he did with both distance and hangtime makes me feel like he could be a serviceable backup should Eric Johnson suffer an injury this late in the year.  You'd rather not burn Jay Ottovegio's redshirt in November, and perhaps Sgroi could handle the duties.  Perhaps.

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