New wide receivers coach Ken Margerum knows a thing or two about his position, having earned First Team All-American honors twice in his Cardinal career more than two decades ago. But rather than talking about all the mechanics and technique of his wideouts, he is focused on their consistency of play and their mental approach. Leave it to Margerum to talk about the first couple weeks of camp in surfer's parlance.
"Right now it's like the ebb tide and slack tide converging in a full moon," the first-year Stanford coach reported to The Bootleg after Friday's afternoon practice. "Yesterday guys were sloppy and not making plays. Today they were sharp - going and getting the ball aggressively. It's up and down, up and down. Little by little, we're lowering the flux and trying to get guys consistent in their play.
On Evan Moore: "Evan has shown big, big, big improvement from the spring. He's a big, strong and athletic receiver who has a chance to be a great one. Last spring he was coming off basketball and just not sharp. I'm really pleased with what he's shown me in camp."
On Mark Bradford: "He's also out of basketball mode and he's turning it up a notch. Mark is a 'gamer' who can turn it on and off when he wants. My challenge is to get him to turn it on all the time."
On Greg Camarillo: "He'd be the third guy for us right now, with his hands and his guile. We moved Evan up to his starting position, and Cam didn't take the move badly at all. He's such a team guy and hasn't shown any problem or drop in performance after he switched with Evan."
On Marcus McCutcheon and Justin McCullum: "They are both pushing Cam for the number three spot. They're starting to make plays and are not just battling for the second group - they're really battling with Cam. Now I can put two groups in when we run the two-minute drill without a hitch. There was no noticeable drop in effectiveness for us. Cutch is a unique receiver in that he's not big but he's not small. He's 205 pounds with a shift and burst. He's going to be a force for us. And you've seen Justin making plays, really coming on."
On Gerren Crochet: "We cut his rep's intentionally so as to not overwork his hamstring. That injury has kind of been his M.O. here and we want to keep him healthy. Gerren is making catches and I feel confident he can have a role for us in the season with his speed and cuts."
On David Marrero: "He's a hybrid speed guy who we need at 100%. He's kind of like Crochet in that his speed helps you if he's 100%, not at 90%. He could have been ready to go today, but I told him I want to wait a couple more days. Like [legendary Stanford track coach] Payton Jordan used to tell me, as soon as you say your hamstring is ready, you need at least another day. Marrero is going to have to claw his way back with the time he's missed, but he can do that. He has a role he can play for us, without a doubt."
On Anthony Kimble: "He really showed something today. He had gone through camp blues the last three or four days, being away from home. I told him he has to come along, and he answered. He really looked great at the beginning of camp and then slumped those three or four days. He looks like may be back. There's no question he' a special playmaker, who can be like Bradford. I don't even want him to think about the 'redshirt' word right now. We have a good seven or eight guys ahead of him, and we hope they'll stay healthy, but you never know. I want him in that mindset to push from third string to second string, and then second string to first string."
Practice news and notes:
- First team right guard Josiah Vinson suffered a mild concussion on Wednesday and has been held out of practices since. While he has worn the yellow jersey and stood on the sidelines for Thursday's practice and both of Friday's practices, classmate David Beall has stepped up to the first team. Beall is the one player on the offensive line who was on the second team who does not flinch at this jump. He is close to both Vinson and Ismail Simpson in ability, and he had a good spring. The trickle-down of the Vinson injury has resulted in freshman transfer Jeff Zuttah taking a consistent role on the second team OL. He previously was rotating some snaps with Preston Clover on the second unit, but Zuttah is now taking 100% of the snaps at the right guard position.
- Also in offensive line injury news, freshman left tackle Allen Smith hurt his knee Friday morning and was limping around that afternoon with a brace. It is not yet known how long he will be out of practices; I do not believe it to be a damage injury that will keep him out long. Amir Malayery has doubled up his duty as a result of Smith's injury and has taken some of the third team snaps in addition to his second team work.
- On a more positive note, a couple players have taken off their yellow jerseys and returned to action. Running back Gerald Commissiong is back in the backfield carrying the ball in full contact work. Over on defense, outside linebacker Timi Wusu made his first appearance in a week due to a hamstring injury. In his absence, redshirt freshman Udeme Udofia has seen all of the work on the second team at the "rush" OLB position, which was very helpful for his development. With his return to action on Friday, Wusu immediately jumped up to that second team role. He has missed quite a bit of time the last year to injuries, and it is important to see how viable an option he is to backup starter Jon Alston.
- Some fans have raised a curious eyebrow at the quarterback repetitions in practices this week. Redshirt sophomore David Lofton took the #2 spot behind Trent Edwards early in the week, only to drop precipitously down the depth chart soon thereafter. Fifth-year senior Ryan Eklund ascended to that second string spot in the middle of the week. Then redshirt freshman T.C. Ostrander closed out the week garnering the lion's share of #2 repetitions. "It's strictly performance-based," says Buddy Teevens of the quarterback shuffle. "We need someone to emerge at that spot who can protect the football. T.C. moving up was not so much anything he did, as the other guys dropping down after their play. It was time to give another guy an opportunity. I thought T.C. answered the challenge and threw better the last couple practices, but he has to work on his decision making." Teevens is correct to be concerned about the play of his signal callers behind Edwards. They all have thrown for low completion percentages and/or high interception numbers. Only two weeks remain to find someone capable of playing at the college game level behind Edwards for the San Jose State opener.
- Another question Cardinalmaniacs™ have asked relates to the defensive secondary, where redshirt junior Calvin Armstrong has made a surprise move from safety to cornerback. Not only is that direction an unusual move, but it also is the reverse of a move made just last spring when Armstrong shifted from cornerback to strong safety. This move puts eight scholarship players at the cornerback positions (although two are true frosh) and just three scholarship players at the safety positions. That might make you scratch your head, but what this move tells us is that the coaching staff feel less secure about the depth at cornerback than they do at safety. Redshirt freshman Nick Sanchez and Tim Sims are the backups to the trio of upperclassmen "co-starters", and Teevens says that adding Armstrong to the mix on the second team is intended to light the competitive fire. "This gives us possibilities just like the dual training we have done at other positions. Running backs and fullbacks; nose tackles and defensive ends; the inside linebackers. We want to make sure we have the quantity and quality of depth at cornerback as well as safety, and we feel Calvin is a smart enough player that he can play both places," the head coach offers.
- Speaking of cornerbacks, kudos go out to Leigh Torrence for several pass breakups on Friday. He put his hands up to knock away the ball late enough and contact-free enough to do so without any penalty. On the other side of the ball, freshman wide receiver Anthony Kimble had two tremendous catches. As Margerum noted above, those plays signaled a return to greatness for the athlete from Baton Rouge (La.). Teammates and coaches alike are buzzing about his playmaking ability. Kudos also to Marcus McCutcheon for making the toughest play of the day, as he went up high to catch a ball against double coverage in the secondary. Oshiomogho Atogwe flew in and laid a big time hit on McCutcheon that flipped the receiver in the air. The redshirt sophomore popped up off the ground to show that he held on to the ball; ironically it was Atogwe who limped away from the play.
- True freshman defensive end Gustav Rydstedt has recently seen a little bit of time on the second team defensive line. The depth and experience ahead of him make it highly unlikely that he could unseat one of the upperclassmen, but that time with the second string signifies the kind of playmaking ability the Swede has shown in camp. He is finding ways to get in the backfield with regularity, and he has a lot of athleticism and toughness.
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