A Conversation with David Shaw: Part V

Alas, we are sad to report that this will be the fifth and final segment of our extended sitdown session with Stanford Offensive Coordinator & WRs Coach David Shaw. Read on to hear Coach Shaw rave about second-year FB Owen Marecic, describe his father Willie Shaw's influence, and highlight some of the standout players that could enable the offense to help the 2008 Cardinal make some serious waves.

TB: We have talked out some of the fans' frustrations from last season. Let's move on to one of the big positives. Last year for example, did have it's promising discoveries. Fullback Owen Marecic was a welcome surprise last year as a true freshman fullback, it was amazing how he could arrive and be ready to get out there and effectively block the way he did- very impressive! How can a young guy step in and be that effective, that early. Is it because you didn't ask him to do too many things? Will you be asking him to do more out of the fullback position this year? Will he carry the ball more, will he catch the ball more? Does it remain to be seen?

DS: What I love about Owen is that Owen does not care. He'll say "Coach, you give me the ball, great. I don't care". What I love about Owen Marecic is that from the day Coach [Willie] Taggart and I put his film in, from high school, we saw a guy that absolutely loves contact. As my dad used to say "a guy who hits with his eyes open". He wants to see the anguish on the guy that he hits! And a kid like that? You can't help but love him. He needs to be a part of what we do. And when he was injured last year he was fightin' like hell to get out there, even when he was hurt. I'll take ten more of those guys and put 'em at ten different positions! 

TB: He provides some competitive glue to the team?

DS: [Sincerely gushing now!] He is the kind of guy that you want placed in a bunch of different places on your team. Ron George.. was like that. John Lynch... was like that. He's got that make-up and he's got some physical ability - he is a strong,...explosive... hitting machine!

TB: Sounds like you're okay with having him for another three years?

DS: Oh, I love him! I love him! And he's going to be a big part of what we do. 

TB: Let's take a minute to talk about your dad. Willie Shaw. 33 years in the game and two stints at Stanford - under Denny Green and of course in the mid-1970s under Jack Christiansen. Obviously he must be a valuable resource in some way. Does he help you from a defensive perspective to know what you might want to try? Is there any input during those family dinners out?

DS: Mostly we talk about philosophy, actually. We talk about Stanford University. We talk about what Stanford has done and been successful with on the field.  

TB: So he's not scouting things out, pointing out what tendencies a corner is showing on third down?

DS: No. We talk big picture and we talk about recruiting the type of guys who have been here and who have been successful. They are out there. We have talked about the utilization of personnel. They flip guys all the time - offense, defense, position to position. It's utilizing that talent pool that you have and getting the most out of it. When Stanford guys, who are motivated, intelligent, competitive guys - when they start to feel they've got a chance, they go through the wall for you. And it is getting them to that brink, to believe. And we are close. We aren't there yet, we aren't over the hill just yet. We are close to guys believing "You know what, we can play with the USCs of the world!" We can. If we do what we're supposed to do? If we work and are efficient in completing our assignments? If we do what we are supposed to do, we can play with anybody. Not there yet, but we're getting close!

TB:  One specific game question - why couldn't we get things going offensively against Notre Dame last year? It's not like they were blowing us off the field athletically...

DS: Do you mean the missed field goals or the not scoring touchdowns?

TB:  The not scoring touchdowns.

DS: That is what I was talking about earlier, not capitalizing. We have to take advantage of the opportunities. Look, you're going to get a certain number of opportunities to score touchdowns every game. You've got to score more than you don't. That's the bottom line. Now, if we make the field goals, do we still win? Possibly, yeah. But that's not the point. Putting it on the field goal kicker - It should never be on the field goal kicker. It's on us as an offense! If we have chances to score touchdowns, we've got to score touchdowns. It's the mentality of realizing that the days of "Oh, you know what, it's okay if we didn't score..." Those days are over! We're out there to score points. What we do, the minute details, those are all leading toward scoring points. That's the expectation, that's the demand, that's the charge. Getting to the point where it's not just me saying it anymore. It is not just Coach Harbaugh saying it anymore. It's the players gettin' it done! It's us putting in the proper scheme, calling it at the right time and being efficient and making the play.  

TB:  What does David Shaw bring to the table? Why should we be excited about having you on this staff, directing our offense, and sheparding the future of our program? And don't be too humble...

DS: Put it this way - I love this university. I love being here, Nothing has made me more excited that when Stanford Football has been up on top, when Stanford was in the Rose Bowl, when Ty [former coach Tyrone Willingham] was going to bowl games, when Troy Walters was breaking records...I was a bunch of different places when that was all going on and I was so excited. I want us to be successful - in every realm! For me personally, I've got some experience...and this is the place.

TB:  So are you saying you wouldn't feel quite the same way if you were coaching at say, Washington State?

DS: I'm emotionally invested in this university. A lot of my daily feelings are about this university. I want us to be successful and I've had experience with some great teachers, to name-drop a little bit - my time with John Gruden and Bill Callaghan were outstanding - those guys are very, very good coaches, articulate coaches. Good motivators. My time with certain players, with Rich Gannon and Tim Brown, Jerry Rice and Andre Rison. I learned a lot from those guys - a lot more than they learned from me! Not just the technique, and we learned a lot about technique, but it's the mentality. The great players, the great coaches have the mentality. I used to love talking to Jerry Rice all the time. He'd say "I don't care what you call. The route doesn't matter. I am going to get it done!" That's the mentaility! 

TB:  As you say, you had exposure coaching Jerry Rice, being around John Lynch, some of the best players in the history of the game in terms of preparation, desire, attitude.... 

DS: I spent four years with [Baltimore Ravens All-Pro LB] Ray Lewis. Ray Lewis! Watching him every day? And I try to relay these message to our guys - I don't want to hold these young guys to that high a standard - one of the best ever, but the point is, he's one of the best ever and there are certain reasons why he got to where he was. Ray will... not... be denied!

TB: Dude's pretty scary, actually!  

DS: As an offense, and I go back to that one full quarter against Oregon - for a full quarter, we were not to be denied!

TB:  We were "Ray Lewis" on offense?  I've got to go back and watch that again!

DS:  The best part of that, to me? We didn't care that it was Oregon. It didn't matter. It didn't matter who that defense was and to a certain extent it didn't matter what the plays were! It was the desire, the execution. It was the togetherness. It was guys communication on the field! It was guys making plays. It was guys coming back and not worrying about anything other than here's the play and I'm going to make it work. It was an awesome thing to behold and it was something that we need to draw from it and we will. It is our standard now. We will see that in 2008!

TB:  If you had a "free pass" to guarantee all-conference-level play at one offensive position other than quarterback, what would you use it for?

DS: Guaranteed all-conference? It's hard to choose. The all-conference receiver is going to get a lot of yards and a lot of touchdowns. The all-conference running back is almost a little demoralizing to a defense because he tears up yards and time of possession, keeps the defense fresh. If I had to choose one, and we'd would love to take all of them, but the combination of an all-conference running back with a very good offensive line, which you would need to have to have an all-conference back, that's tough to beat.

TB:  Word association: Marcus Rance?

DS: Fast.

TB: Healthy, finally? 

DS: Gettin' close. He's been cleared to go, he's been doing well.

TB:  You are turning 36 at the end of this month (7/31/1972), what would you like for your birthday?

DS: I've got a few things going with the wide-outs. They have asked me to do a few things that I am not inclined to do, but I have opened the door on a BCS Bowl game. If we get to the point where...forget about recruiting for a second. The guys we have on campus right now? We've got some tough guys. We've got some guys that can make plays to win some games. We've got guys that can play at a high level for a long time. We get that to come together...

TB:  Can you give us three? Who are those guys? Who can play at that high level?

DS: Guys who can play at that high level for a long period of time, you are talking about the guys who are healthy right now? 

TB:  Yeah. C'mon now, we want names, coach!

DS: Alex Fletcher. Believe it or not, he's the example that I use to the wide-outs. It's going to the ball. Here's a guy who played guard last year and is going to play center for us this year - here's a guy who blocks, blocks, blocks and then sees the ball thrown and covers! And don't bother telling me what his 40-time is because he is getting there faster than anybody! He's playing with his heart. And he wants it bad!

TB:  Who else do we need to know about? And let's not use Clint Snyder cause even the guys in the band know that he's the real deal!

DS: Owen Marecic. Owen was born to play fullback. It's what he was born to do! And he plays like it. This is his charge from day one. We had a sneaking suspicion about him the entire time. And every single day, he comes and just lights people up. As I mentioned earlier, when we first got here and we got through the '07 recruiting process and we saw his film - the first three clips, I said "Oh wow! I love this kid."

TB:  And that is a relatively unknown sleeper guy from central Oregon! Isn't that awfully hard to know on those types, given disparities with regard to levels of play? Isn't it risky to compare a guy playing in say central Washington with a guy playing on a traditional power, say in the Phoenix area or in southern Florida? 

DS: My old boss, Mr. Al Davis, used to say "Touchdown-makers are touchdown-makers: Hitters are hitters." The level of football doesn't matter.. Those guys that go through a game and are continually knocking people out - those guys are hitters. 

TB:  Other than physical injuries, why do some guys go from being film room heroes to not working out at all. Is it due to the level of play?

DS: No, the level of play has nothing to do with it. That's why recruiting, that's why drafting is not an exact science. There isn't always a reason why. You see it every year - high school All-Americans who go to college and never play. You see college All-Americans who never go on to play in the NFL. You see undrafted rookies that within two years are in the Pro Bowl!

TB:  Can a guy like Owen Marecic play in the NFL?

DS: I believe he's got the ability! There's a lot of time, a lot of things happening between now and then! He's got the ability, he's got the mentality, which are two key things.

TB:  Speaking of being able to identify prospects at an early age.. Your own kids, Keegan and Carter - who is showing the mad skills at this age?  

DS: Keegan's got the speed now. She can run! My daughter can run track. She's a little faster than Carter, but Carter, at this age right now, Carter is one of those guys who hits with his eyes open. He went face-first into a tree the other day - slipped on some mud. 10 seconds later, he wanted to go right back and play - I said "I may have a linebacker on my hands". [Hmmm, "Carter Shaw" does have a nice ring to it!]

TB: So, final question and this is on the minds of many of our readers...you played a little basketball for the Cardinal as well and you follow the program... How is redshirt sophomore forward Will Paul going to be used in the Johnny Dawkins offense? Your thoughts.... 

DS: That's a really good question. [Shaw goes right along with it even though it was intended as a bit of a BootBoard insider's joke] Actually, I am excited to see that myself. 

TB: Sorry, but we get "The Will Paul Question" several times a day! 

DS: Hey, I wanna know too! I love college athletics. I take my family - we go to the volleyball matches here, we go to basketball, both men's and women's. We go to the track meets. It's a great place to be for all of those sports. I am excited about what Coach Dawkins is going to bring to us! He's been with some great coaches, some great players and we're excited to see how he's going to use all of our available bodies. 

TB: Thanks, Coach. Good luck with fall camp and let's run the table!

Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up)!

The Bootleg Top Stories