Doing the Quarterback Shuffle

One day later, it is still sinking in with this Stanford community that the Cardinal have to travel to Boston College for next weekend's season opener without veteran star quarterback Chris Lewis. In this report, I take a look at the approaches taken to this game by Buddy Teevens, Chris Lewis and Kyle Matter, as well as reflections upon the suspension. Here is all the latest from the Farm.

(Not) Talking about the infraction

Whether you talk with Buddy Teevens, Ted Leland, Chris Lewis or Gary Migdol (Sports Information Director), the uniform response to queries about what transpired with Chris is that they just can't share details, per Stanford policy.

"With Stanford's stance on confidentiality, I can't really comment [on] why, what or where," said Teevens.  Though you can clearly see in his facial expressions, body language and tone in his voice that he wishes he could share.  The cloak of silence that Stanford requires is more apt to incite rampant speculation, both within the media and in the offices of those college coaches who have little-to-no ammunition to use against squeaky-clean Stanford.  Teevens knows how minor this all is, and would probably just as soon tell the media so they don't speculate and dream up the proverbial tempest in the teapot. 

Lewis feels the same way. "It's really minor, something really dumb," the redshirt quarterback said Friday.  He shook his head and mock-grinned with frustration at the knowledge of what he has to keep inside.  That, and the small stigma that he knows will now stick with him - the asterisk that reminds the world of the one game Chris Lewis could not play for reasons other than injury and ability.  But this is a really good kid who does things the right way, now having to learn a lesson about the trivial things that can jump up and bite you in this prominent position.

"It is definitely something I learn from," said Lewis.  "I have never really been in trouble before.  You just kinda have to live the straight and narrow.  In my position, you are in the spotlight all the time, and you can't make mistakes out there."

Buddy Teevens now also adds to his list of novel experiences and lessons about Stanford, a place different in how it carries itself in all manners of business.  Teevens acknowledges the benefit that Stanford would derive from disclosing just how minor this infraction was. "I know that, but I work for Stanford," Teevens said.  "Other places have different policies.  I respect Stanford for the position they take, really observing the integrity and rights of the individual."

Tough time for Lewis

Here is what can be disclosed and said about the what and when.  This incident occurred back during the Tyrone Willingham era, before Buddy Teevens was hired and arrived at Stanford.  Teevens gained knowledge of the infraction as the process was working its way out during the off-season.  According to Migdol, that process was already underway when Teevens came to Stanford.  Stanford had self-reported the situation to the NCAA, which after some amount of back-and-forth had to levy a one-game suspension.  It was not immediately certain whether the minor infraction would even carry any penalty when it was self-reported, and that uncertainty has been hanging over Lewis for quite some time.  Even the voluntary team workouts he led this summer transpired without resolution on this issue.

"It was something going on throughout the whole summer," said Lewis.  "I wasn't really sure until about a week and a half or two weeks before camp started.  It was a smooth process and I totally understand what happened."

Understanding though as he may be, this is something Chris Lewis will wrestle to accept while also making himself move on.  At this time, he has two sets of focus: prepare himself for San Jose State, and help prepare the other QBs for Boston College. 

"It is a tough one," admitted Lewis.  I am trying to be as positive as I can about it.  It's an unfortunate deal.  We have ten other games to play, and I am looking forward to them.  Knowing for a while has given me time to adjust to it.  I can focus on San Jose State."

Lewis could even muster jokes and levity in the face of all this, as he amusedly opined about his triumphant return to action in the home opener against the Spartans.  "I have told the running backs to get all the yards that they can because when I get back, I don't know if they will be able to run too much," Lewis added with laughter.

Lewis does not yet know whether he will go home this weekend to Long Beach to watch the game with his family, or if he might stay on campus and watch with injured receiver Caleb Bowman.  He does know what his role has to be these next seven days, though - to help his team and quarterback mates.

"I just have to be the best coach I can be," said Lewis  "I have already talked to Kyle about some little things here and there, what to look for and stuff like that.  We are really close, all of us at the QB position, and I just want him to go out there and rip it up.  I know he can do just as well as I can"

Moving on to Matter

"Kyle Matter is our starter, and Ryan Eklund is a close second," proclaimed Teevens on Friday.  "We could see both, all predicated on how we practice this forthcoming week and our preparation.  You always need to get two guys ready, and they both have pretty much split time.  They are on target with what we have been doing.  I think they are both performing at a high level."

I think that is a little nod in the direction of Eklund to bolster his confidence, because what I have seen this training camp does not indicate that Ryan is actually that close to Kyle.  Matter made big strides last winter when he hit the weight room to increase his arm strength, easily his greatest liability last fall during his redshirt season.  He then entered the spring and caught up to, if not passed, Eklund in proficiency on the field.  Both stayed on campus and worked out through the entire summer in the weight room and with offensive mates in drills.  But it was Matter who started and has continued this training camp with the more consistent precision and decision making.

Teevens concurred yesterday. "[Matter] is a very cerebral quarterback.  I think he understands the system.  He plays within the system and understands the things he is capable of doing.  His decision-making process the other day in the scrimmage moved ahead.  That is what we need in a game - when the offense is operating, we need a decisive QB who can put the ball accurately to the receivers."

Lewis offered up more of the same confidence about Matter.  "He actually probably has a 10% higher throwing percentage in camp than I do.  He is doing really well, and I am really impressed with how he has come along since last year."

As I have watched Matter this camp, I have continued to try and evaluate how well he can run the offense.  My conclusion has been that he will have some instances where he holds the ball too long and takes the sack; he will not be able to stretch the field with Lewis' arm.  But he knows what he is doing out there, and can do it pretty well.  Matter is pretty accurate in his throws, and he has already demonstrated in practices and scrimmages the understanding of when to throw the ball away, rather than into double coverage.  He has the best chance on this roster to execute the offense cleanly, with a minimum of costly mistakes.

Lewis further commented on the preparation and knowledge of the offense Matter brings into this game, "We have both learned it at the same time, and he knows just as much as I do."  Lewis pauses and then adds with a grin, "if not more."

The question still remains as to how much Buddy Teevens and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford pull in the reins with what they ask Matter to do in this opening game,


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