Friday was a light walk-through practice with no pads and very minimal contact through most of the afternoon. The end is near for the 2002 edition of Stanford spring football, and Friday was spent working repetitions of the plays in store for Saturday's big Cardinal and White Scrimmage. The practice did end with some 11-on-11 work in the mode of touch football. That frankly made it difficult to really extrude any meaningful observations from the afternoon. For sure, you couldn't see anything transpire of note in the trenches, though the skill positions did have their moments in the open field. Several non-traditional plays were rehearsed, and I expect the Cardinal faithful will see a few of them unveiled on Saturday.
The quarterbacks looked pretty sharp, which was a positive sign after some lackluster performances on Monday and Wednesday. Chris Lewis has been playing at a high level through much of the spring, but Ryan Eklund and Kyle Matter have had up and down swings. Well, Ryan and Kyle threw some nice balls Friday with a lot of confidence. Some receivers put forth some fine work on the other end of those connections, including nice showings from Grant Mason, Caleb Bowman and Greg Camarillo. I had been quiet about Caleb through much of spring ball, without much to really talk about, but I have to give him some real credit for finishing strong. He has been as good or better than any other receiver on this team this week, grabbing a lot of balls without the drops. We'll see if he can finish with this momentum in the scrimmage finale.
One receiver not in action was Justin McCullum. After a brilliant route, catch and run on Wednesday, he went down badly on the sideline. It looked like an innocent fall, but he was in quite a bit of pain and did not continue. My fear was that he did some serious damage to his knee, but I'm happy to report that examination has come back negative. He has some swelling and will stay out of action Saturday, probably walking around on crutches, but he does not have anything wrong that will impede him this summer or fall. Thankfully, this has been an extraordinarily clean spring for Stanford. Knock on wood with one day to go, but nobody has suffered any serious injuries this spring. Anybody who was healthy coming into the spring is coming out ready for a big off-season of workouts.
The two standouts on defense were the coverage from Leigh Torrence and an interception by Jon Alston. As is a tradition with the Stanford defense, a big play like that commands a fitting celebration display. Alston's was one of the best I've seen in watching Stanford football practices these last few years - a standing backflip to hoots and hollers of his defensive mates. I'll also note that Garry Cobb, who has donned the yellow jersey for almost all of the spring, participated in a couple plays Wednesday, and more on Friday.
Friday also presented a few of Stanford's incoming freshman class, who have arrived for Saturday's spring game. There will be a few more on Saturday, but three showed on the practice field Friday. You are already familiar with David Beall and Jon Cochran on the O-line, but we also saw Tim Mattran from Minnesota. Tim is walking on this fall to join an already impressive breadth of talent on the offensive line. Put these three together, and you had 900 pounds of beefcake prowling around on Friday. See the photo below for a look yourself.
left to right: Beall, Cochran and Mattran
These three monoliths spent some time Friday chatting with Stanford's new strength and conditioning coach about their off-season workouts and regiments. And the were eager beavers to soak it in.
Saturday's culminating scrimmage will kick off at 1pm Pacific time at the Old Lady - Stanford Stadium. Admission is free to all, and the first 2000 Cardinalmaniacs will get a free hot dog and drink. Given limitations at some positions (namely the O-line, which has just 9 bodies), this scrimmage will not actually pit one (Cardinal) team versus another (White). Instead, the offense will run against the defense, with rotations on both sides of the ball throughout. You will also be exposed to a scoring system unlike that with which you are familiar for Stanford spring games. Points will be awarded for many more plays than just traditional means, like touchdowns, field goals, PATs and safeties. Points can also be earned with other milestones like first downs, turnovers, missed PATs and sacks. Thus, the defense will have an assortment of means to score on the offense without ever crossing the opposing goalline.
See you there.