Spring Ball: Day Seven

We are halfway through Stanford's 2006 spring practices, and Saturday provided an important test for the Cardinal in their first full scrimmage. It was an extended affair, with 121 plays. We have the full play-by-play of the most important day yet this year for Cardinal Football, revealing playmakers on both sides of the ball. This report is one you cannot afford to miss...

First, we should note who did not take part in the scrimmage.  Injured players wearing yellow jerseys held out of Saturday's action included: defensive end Pannel Egboh, tight end Michael Horgan, tight end Erik Lorig, nose tackle James McGillicuddy, strong safety Bo McNally (except for holding duties), defensive end Gustav Rydstedt, inside linebacker Mike Silva, outside linebacker Udeme Udofia and wide receiver Nate Wilcox-Fogel.

The most notable new hit for Stanford in that group is Horgan.  Missing him plus Lorig, as well as suspended Matt Traverso, the once "loaded" tight end corps was reduced to just three warm bodies on Saturday.  As I have long maintained, this is a position that has a time-tested wealth of injuries.  That is expected when big bodies are asked to to take the punishment of an offensive lineman while also running with the speed and depth of routes of a wide receiver.  The next time a Cardinal fan claims to see a "glut" of tight ends on The Farm, (s)he should head to the practice field.

Saturday was a scrimmage, putting to the test the first two weeks of Stanford's spring practices.  We did not expect to see depth chart shake-ups or position switches.  Those come after the scrimmage film is scrutinized.  But there was on surprise position move that caught our eye.  Redshirt juniors David Jackson and Mike Macellari swapped positions, with the former working at defensive end and the latter at nose tackle on Saturday.  From one day of observation, the move looked like a hit.  Macellari has the wider frame and can more naturally sustain the weight and provide the power necessary at the nose tackle position.  When he was moved last fall from the offensive line to defensive end, his best "move" was to bull rush.  Macellari looked at home on Saturday, making more plays in one afternoon than we have ever seen from him - wrapping up ballcarriers, moving blockers into the backfield, and batting down passes.

Some other defensive players and notes that caught my attention:  senior Michael Okwo was the defense's best playmaker, which is no surprise.  He is a perfect team with Ekom Udofia up front, exploding through a hole as soon as it is opened.  Okwo's speed and physical play could let him record the most tackles for loss of a Stanford inside linebacker seen in quite a few years...  Udofia continued his stellar spring as well, including more pass deflections at the line of scrimmage.  The youngster made that a habit all of last week, which is unexpected.  With size somewhere between 6'1" and 6'2", he is one of the more undersized defensive linemen you will find at the BCS level, yet he bats away passes from veteran quarterbacks as if he were a 6'6" defender.  Credit the craftiness and timing of Udofia for that unsung skill...  Redshirt freshman Clinton Snyder, as first reported here, moved up to the first team at the "rush" outside linebacker position last week, nosing ahead of redshirt junior Emmanuel Awofadeju.  However, there were several series late in Saturday's scrimmage where Snyder ran second team and Awofadeju was first string.  I cannot imagine what Snyder could have done to disappoint the defensive coaches to rate a "demotion."  He has played well the last couple practices.  Instead, this may be a sign that the battle remains tight between these two outside linebackers, and each were given their chances on Saturday to play with the first team defense...  A pair of non-glorified defensive reserves made me take notice in this scrimmage.  Redshirt junior inside linebacker Landon Johnson and redshirt freshman cornerback Chris Hobbs both racked up a number of tackles when given the chance.  I gave little love to either player in my pre-spring write-ups, so kudos to them for stepping up on Saturday.  This team will become much stronger when younger/reserve players rise up and compete at a higher level.  Competition is the mother of success for a football program.

Over on offense, the running backs ruled the day.  I thought they were the story of the scrimmage.  They picked up blitzes.  They ran the ball with repeated success.  And they caught the ball for more yardage, in routes and on screens.  The two positions on the football field where you most hoped to see competition this spring were running back and offensive line.  All four of the Cardinal's tailbacks made things happen when they touched the ball Saturday.  Yes - all four.  The Rodney Dangerfield of the Stanford running back corps, redshirt freshman Xxavier Carter, had 28 yards on three carries.  And he's fourth on the depth chart.

Here are my unofficial statistics from Saturday for the Cardinal's three top tailbacks:

  Anthony Kimble Ray Jones Jason Evans
Rushing 8-47 (1 TD) 13-55 (2 TDs) 13-77
Receiving 6-35 5-36 3-25

Evans led the trio in total yards (102), yards per carry (5.92) and yards per reception (8.3).  All three of the backs were productive catching the ball, and all three had averages running the ball much better than Stanford's team 2.6 yards per clip in 2005.

And while we're at it, some chunk of the running backs' success has to be handed to their blockers.  Several of those quality runs came when tailbacks followed their fullback, tight end, and/or offensive lineman clearly the way.  A running game that clicks for the Cardinal in 2006 could mean some very good things.

On the subject of the offensive line, we cannot make too much of a comment on individual blocking performances.  Tracking the downs, distances, personnel and playmakers took almost all of our attention.  The one figure that drew some notice was redshirt sophomore guard Alex Fletcher, who played well until he was "ejected" from the scrimmage.  On the offense's biggest play of the day, Fletcher blew Udofia off the ball and opened the big hole through which Kimble burst for his 39-yard run.  Udofia mixed it up with Fletcher following the initial block, and Fletcher lifted his arms in the "I didn't do anything gesture" to the officials.  The talented young guard has been told by the coaches never to do that, as it is an invitation for a flag.  Any penalty, even if called on both Udofia and Fletcher, would have brought the play back.  Such a miscue on such a big play could be the undoing for Stanford in a game, and be the difference between a win and a loss.  Fletcher was sent to the sideline and never played another span for the remainder of the scrimmage.

On a down note, the kicking game was a flop.  Stanford hit its extra points, but that is nothing to write home about.  The disappointment came on field goals, where redshirt junior Derek Belch and redshirt sophomore Aaron Zagory combined for a 1-for-4 day.  The only make was a 21-yarder, which is a a step longer than an extra point.  Kicking is an area often taken for granted, but halfway through the spring, it remains a very real question for the Cardinal.  And we have yet to get a good look at kickoffs...

Unless otherwise noted, here are the units of offense and defense that took the field with the first string, second string, and third string battles were waged.  I tried to follow the offensive personnel and substitutions as much as possible during a given drive but did not attempt to follow any defensive substitutions, which were less frequent.  And while I tried my best, there undoubtedly are some plays where I missed the substitution of tight end for a wide receiver, etc.  But this is a pretty darned good representation of what took place.

1st team offense
QB: Trent Edwards
RB: Anthony Kimble; FB: Nick Frank
WR: Evan Moore, Mark Bradford
TE: Patrick Danahy
OL: Allen Smith, Josiah Vinson, Tim Mattran, Alex Fletcher, Jeff Edwards

1st team offense
QB: T.C. Ostrander
RB: Ray Jones; FB: Ben Ladner
WR: Mike Miller, Marcus McCutcheon
TE: James Dray
OL: Ben Muth, Ismail Simpson, Preston Clover, Matt McClernan, Jon Cochran

3rd team offense
QB: Tavita Pritchard or Garrett Moore
RB: Jason Evans or Xxavier Carter; FB: Emeka Nnoli or Josh Catron
WR: Kelton Lynn, Charlie Hazlehurst
TE: Patrick Bowe
OL: David Long, Bobby Dockter, Preston Clover, Mikal Brewer, Chris Marinelli

1st team defense
DL: Matt Kopa, Ekom Udofia, Chris Horn
ILB: Michael Okwo, Pat Maynor
OLB: Clinton Snyder, Will Powers
S: Trevor Hooper, David Lofton
CB: Nick Sanchez, Tim Sims

2nd team defense
DL: David Jackson, Mike Macellari, Tom McAndrew
ILB: Landon Johnson, Peter Griffin
OLB: Emmanuel Awofadeju, Austin Gunder
S: Thaddeus Chase, Aaron Smith
CB: Carlos McFall, Kris Evans

3rd team defense
DL: Alfred Johnson, Mike Macellari, Tom McAndrew
ILB: Fred Campbell, Peter Griffin
OLB: Brandon Willetts, Austin Gunder
S: Blaise Johnson, Kenny Long
CB: Chris Hobbs, C.J. Easter

1st team offense vs. 1st team defense

1st & 10 @ own 30:  Trent Edwards pass incomplete
2nd & 10 @ 30:  Anthony Kimble run to the right side for five yards, tackle by Tim Sims
Marcus McCutcheon in for Kimble
3rd & 5 @ 35:  Edwards pass complete to Evan Moore on the right sideline for 16 yards, tackle by Sims
15-yard personal foul penalty on the defense
Kimble in for McCutcheon

1st & 10 @ opp. 34:
  Edwards pass incomplete, batted down by Ekom Udofia (good pass rush by Udofia and Will Powers)
James Dray in for Nick Frank
2nd & 10 @ 34:
  Edwards pass incomplete, intended for James Dray (dropped), coverage by Pat Maynor
McCutcheon in for Dray
3rd & 10 @ 34:  Edwards pass incomplete, broken up by Clinton Snyder

2nd team offense vs. 2nd team defense

1st & 10 @ own 30:  Ray Jones run up the middle for two yards, tackle by Peter Griffin and Landon Johnson
2nd & 8 @ 32:  Jones run on a sweep to the right for two yards
Kelton Lynn in for Ben Ladner
3rd & 6 @ 34:  Ostrander pass incomplete, intended for McCutcheon 11 yards downfield (slips and falls)
Reset; Jason Evans at tailback
1st & 10 @ own 30:  Evans run to the left side for 10 yards, tackle by Landon Johnson (good job running behind blocks of Dray, Ladner and Ben Muth)
Patrick Danahy in for Mike Miller
1st & 10 @ 40:  Evans run up the middle for two yards, tackle by Mike Macellari
Miller, Lynn in for Danahy, Ladner
2nd & 8 @ 42:  Ostrander pass complete to Lynn on the right sideline for five yards, tackle by Carlos McFall and Thaddeus Chase
Ladner in for Lynn
3rd & 3 @ 47:
  Ostrander pass complete to McCutcheon for 12 yards on catch and run, tackle by Chase (great open field move to beat Kris Evans one-on-one after catch)
Danahy in for Dray
1st & 10 @ opp. 41:  Ostrander pass incomplete, intended for Miller deep down the left sideline, coverage by Evans
Dray in for Danahy
2nd & 10 @ 41:  Evans run for four yards, tackle by Emmanuel Awofadeju
Lynn in for Ladner
3rd & 6 @ 37:  Ostrander pass incomplete, intended for Lynn 12 yards downfield, coverage by Nick Sanchez

1st team offense vs. 1st team defense

Frank single-back, double-tight of Dray and Danahy
1st & 10 @ own 30:
  Frank run for loss of one yard, tackle by Maynor and David Lofton
Emeka Nnoli, Jones in for Danahy, Frank
2nd & 11 @ 29:  Edwards play-action pass complete to Moore for 13 yards, tackle by Trevor Hooper
1st & 10 @ 42:  Edwards screen pass complete to Nnoli for no gain, tackle by Sanchez and Michael Okwo
Danahy in for Nnoli
2nd & 10 @ 42:  Edwards pass complete to Moore for 16 yards
1st & 10 @ opp. 42:  Edwards pass incomplete, intended for Dray
2nd & 10 @ 42:  Edwards screen pass complete to Kimble for eight yards
3rd & 2 @ 34:  Edwards pass complete to Bradford on the left side for 12 yards
1st & 10 @ 22:  Kimble run to the right for a loss of three yards, tackle by Okwo (spectacular play)
2nd & 13 @ 25:
  Kimble run for no gain (slipped)
3rd & 13 @ 25:  Edwards pass incomplete, intended for Moore in back of endzone
4th & 13 @ 25:  Field goal attempt from 42 yards no good, wide left (Derek Belch kick, Jay Ottovegio hold, Jon Cochran snap)

2nd team offense vs. 2nd team defense

Evans, Josh Catron backfield
1st & 10 @ own 35:  Evans run for six yards on a pitch, behind Catron's block
2nd @ 4 @ 41:  Evans run for eight yards
Danahy in for Dray
1st & 10 @ 49:  Ostrander play-action pass incomplete to Miller 20 yards downfield (dropped), coverage by Aaron Smith
Jones in for Evans
2nd & 10 @ 49:  Ostrander scramble for six yards
3rd & 4 @ opp. 45:  Ostrander scramble for four yards
Patrick Bowe, Dray in for Catron, Danahy
1st & 10 @ 41:  Ostrander play-action pass incomplete, intended for McCutcheon 30 yards downfield (overthrown)
Catron in for Bowe
2nd & 10 @ 41:  Ostrander play-action pass complete to Jones for 11 yards, tackle by Awofadeju
1st & 10 @ 30:  Jones run for five yards up the middle, tackle by Macellari
Danahy, Lynn in for Dray, Catron
2nd & 5 @ 25:  Ostrander pass complete to Jones for 10 yards, tackle by McFall (Ostrander started naked bootleg to left, met by Austin Gunder, rolled back right and found Jones)
Bowe in for Lynn
1st & 10 @ 15:  Jones run to the left side for five yards, tackle by Gunder and Smith
Dray in for Bowe
2nd & 5 @ 10:  Jones run up the middle for five yards
Chris Marinelli, Catron in for Jon Cochran, Miller
1st & Goal @ 5:  Jones run up the middle for a five-yard touchdown
PAT:  Good (kick by Aaron Zagory, hold by Ottovegio, snap by Bobby Dockter)

-- Halftime --

2nd team offense vs. 2nd team defense

1st & 10 @ 50:  Jones run for six yards, tackle by Griffin
Lynn in for Ladner
2nd & 4 @ opp. 44:  Ostrander pass incomplete, batted down by Macellari
Ladner in for Lynn
3rd & 4 @ 44:  Ostrander scramble for seven yards (flushed out of pocket by Macellari)
Evans, Lynn in for Jones, Ladner
1st & 10 @ 37:  Ostrander play-action pass to Evans for seven yards, tackle by Smith
Ladner in for Lynn
2nd & 3 @ 30:  Evans run up the middle, cuts to the right and carries tacklers for gain of 21 yards, tackle by Snyder
Bowe in for Miller
1st & Goal @ 9:  Evans run, bounced out to the left side for one yard, tackle by Kris Evans and Powers (lightning quick play by Kris Evans, who made initial hit at line of scrimmage)
Miller in for Ladner
2nd & Goal @ 8:  Evans run for seven yards, but called back on a penalty
Offensive holding penalty - by programmed instruction to officials
2nd & Goal @ 17:  Ostrander pass complete to Evans for 10 yards, tackle by Kris Evans
Ladner in for Bowe
3rd & Goal @ 7:  Ostrander pass complete to McCutcheon for seven-yard touchdown (Ostrander rolled to his right, along with wideouts and backs)
PAT:  Good (Belch kick, Ottovegio hold, Cochran snap)

1st team offense vs. 1st team defense

Kimble single-back, "trips" with Miller, Bowe at tight end
1st & 10 @ 50:
  Edwards pass complete to Moore for 11 yards, tackle by Sims
Nnoli in for Miller
1st & 10 @ opp. 39:  Edwards pass complete to Kimble for eight yards (slipped and fell trying to beat Okwo in open field)
2nd & 2 @ 31:  Edwards pass complete to Kimble for five yards, tackle by Okwo and Matt Kopa
1st & 10 @ 26:  Kimble run for eight yards, tackle by Sims out of bounds
Jones in for Kimble
2nd & 2 @ 18:  Edwards scramble and ruled sacked for loss of 19 yards
Danahy, Miller in for Bowe, Nnoli
3rd & 21 @ 37:  Edwards pass incomplete, intended for Bradford in endzone, coverage by Sanchez

3rd team offense vs. 3rd team defense

1st & 10 @ 50:  Tavita Pritchard scramble for no gain, "tackle" by Griffin
2nd & 10 @ 50:  Evans run to the right side for 11 yards, tackle by Chris Hobbs and Griffin
1st & 10 @ opp. 39:  Evans run for two yards
Xxavier Carter in for Evans
2nd & 8 @ 37:  Pritchard scramble and sacked by Kopa for loss of seven yards
3rd & 15 @ 45:  Carter run for nine yards, tackle by Hobbs and Griffin (huge stick by Hobbs)
Reset; Carter single-back, double-tight with Dray and Bowe
1st & 10 @ 50:  Carter run for 12 yards, tackle by Hobbs (nice elusiveness by Carter)
Garrett Moore, Catron in for Pritchard, Dray
1st & 10 @ opp. 38:  Carter run for seven yards
Evans, Matt McClernan in for Carter, Preston Clover; Mikal Brewer moves to center
2nd & 3 @ 31:  Moore pass to Lynn for 16 yards (nice move to beat Hobbs in open field)
Dray in for Catron
1st & 10 @ 15:  Moore pass incomplete to Lynn in back corner of endzone, coverage by C.J. Easter
Pritchard, Catron in for Moore, Dray
2nd & 10 @ 15:  Evans run for four yards, tackle by Griffin
3rd & 6 @ 11:  Pritchard pass incomplete, intended for Lynn (ball thrown short)
4th & 6 @ 11:  Field goal attempt from 28 yards no good, wide left (Zagory kick, Ottovegio hold, Dockter snap)
Reset; Carter at tailback
1st & 10 @ 50:
  Pritchard pass complete to Charlie Hazlehurst for 21 yards (nice leaping grab)

1st team offense vs. 1st team defense
(hurry-up drill - 1:20 on clock)

Kimble single-back, "trips" with McCutcheon
1st & 10 @ own 30:
  Edwards pass complete to Moore for 16 yards on crossing pattern
1st & 10 @ 46:  Edwards throws ball away out of bounds (0:57)
2nd & 10 @ 46:  Edwards pass complete to Moore for 16 yards
1st & 10 @ 38:  Edwards throws ball away out of bounds (0:42)
2nd & 10 @ 38:  Edwards pass complete to Kimble for six yards, tackle by Snyder and Lofton
3rd & 4 @ 32:  Edwards pass complete to Bradford for 32-yard touchdown (0:26)
PAT:  Good (Belch kick, Ottovegio hold, Cochran snap)

2nd team offense vs. 2nd team defense
(hurry-up drill - 1:20 on clock)

Jones single-back, "trips" with Lynn
1st & 10 @ own 30:  Ostrander pass complete to Miller for 11 yards
1st & 10 @ 41:  Ostrander pass incomplete, intended for Hazlehurst deep downfield, coverage by McFall
2nd & 10 @ 41:  Ostrander pass complete to Miller for seven yards, tackle by McFall (0:49)
3rd & 3 @ 48:  Ostrander scrambles for loss of one yard
4th & 4 @ 47:  Ostrander pass incomplete, intended for Hazlehurst (dropped)

1st team offense vs. 1st team defense

Kimble single-back, double-tight of Dray, Danahy
1st & 10 @ 50:
  Edwards pass incomplete, batted down by Udofia
McCutcheon in for Dray
2nd & 10 @ 50:  Edwards screen pass to Kimble for no gain, tackle by Snyder
Nnoli in for McCutcheon
3rd & 10 @ opp. 49:  Edwards pass incomplete to Kimble (dropped)
Reset; Kimble single-back, "trips" with McCutcheon
1st & 10 @ 50:  Kimble run for nine yards, tackle by Udofia and Sims
Nnoli in for McCutcheon
2nd & 1 @ opp. 41:  Edwards pass incomplete, intended for Danahy 25 yards downfield (dropped)
Dray in for Moore
3rd & 1 @ 41:  Kimble run up the middle, then cuts left for 39 yards, tackle by Sims out of bounds (big moves to beat Lofton, then Sanchez in open field)
1st & Goal @ 2: Kimble run for a two-yard touchdown behind Nnoli and Danahy blocks
PAT:  Good (Zagory kick, Ottovegio hold, Cochran snap)

2nd team offense vs. 2nd team defense

1st & 10 @ 50:  Ostrander pass complete to Jones for two yards, tackle by Gunder and David Jackson
2nd & 8 @ opp. 48:  Ostrander pass to McCutcheon for nine yards, tackle by Kris Evans
1st & 10 @ 39:  Fumbled center (Clover) exchange, Ostrander falls on ball for no gain
Lynn in for Ladner
2nd & 10 @ 39:  Ostrander screen pass to Jones for eight yards, tripped up by Jackson
3rd & 2 @ 31:  Ostrander pass incomplete, intended for Dray 15 yards downfield, broken up by Smith

1st team offense vs. 1st team defense

Jones, Nnoli backfield; Dray at tight end
1st & 10 @ opp. 35:
  Edwards pass incomplete, intended for Bradford on left sideline 25 yards downfield (pass out of bounds)
2nd & 10 @ 35:  Run by Jones for 14 yards, tackle by Lofton (brilliant display hurdling tackler(s) at the line of scrimmage by Jones)
Danahy in for Dray
1st & 10 @ 21:  Run by Jones on a pitch for one yard, tackle by Okwo
2nd & 9 @ 20:  Edwards pass complete to Moore for two yards, tackle by Sanchez
3rd & 7 @ 18:  Edwards pass complete to Moore on the sideline for six yards, tackle by Sanchez
Dray in for Moore
4th & 1 @ 12:  Jones run for three yards
1st & Goal @ 9:  Jones run for four yards
2nd & Goal @ 5:  Jones run for two yards, tackle by Hooper
3rd & Goal @ 3:  Jones run for three-yard touchdown
PAT:  Good snapped from 11-yard line (Belch kick, Bo McNally hold, Dockter snap)

2nd team offense vs. 2nd team defense

Evans single-back, "trips" with Lynn; Danahy at tight end
1st & 10 @ opp. 35:  Ostrander pass complete to Miller for 15 yards, tackle by Landon Johnson
Catron in for Lynn
1st & 10 @ 20:  Ostrander pass complete to Evans for eight yards, tackle by Landon Johnson
2nd & 2 @ 12:  Evans run for five yards, tripped up by Landon Johnson
Bowe in for Miller
1st & Goal @ 7:  Evans run for two yards, tackle by Snyder and Tom McAndrew
2nd & Goal @ 5:  Evans run for one yard, tackle by Griffin and Smith
3rd & Goal @ 4:  Ostrander pass incomplete, intended for Miller in the back of the endzone, coverage by Kris Evans
4th & Goal @ 4:  Field goal attempt from 21 yards out is good (Zagory kick, McNally hold, Dockter snap)

-- Conditioning Runs --

1st team offense vs. 1st team defense

Kimble, Nnoli backfield
1st & 10 @ opp. 18:
  Kimble run for no gain, tackle by Udofia
2nd & 10 @ 18:  Edwards play-action pass complete to Moore for 14 yards, tackle by Hooper (loudest hit of the day, shoulder to chest and laid Moore out)
1st & Goal @ 4:  Kimble run for loss of five yards, tackle by Okwo
McCutcheon in for Nnoli
2nd & Goal @ 9:  Edwards pass incomplete, deflected by Udofia
3rd & Goal @ 9:  Edwards pass incomplete, fade in the endzone, intended for Bradford (Sanchez looked like he badly interfered, but no flag)
Ball moved back to give long field goal attempt
4th & Goal @ 23:  Field goal attempt from 40 yards out is no good, low and nowhere close (Belch kick, McNally hold, Dockter snap)

2nd team offense vs. 2nd team defense

1st & 10 @ opp. 18:  Ostrander pass incomplete, intended for Ladner (too high)
Offensive holding penalty
1st & 20 @ 28:  Ostrander pass complete to Ladner for three yards, tackled by Griffin and Kris Evans
??? in for Ladner
2nd & 17 @ 25:  Ostrander screen pass complete to Jones for five yards, tackled by McFall
3rd & 12 @ 20:  Ostrander pass incomplete, intended for Dray, coverage by Landon Johnson


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