Aug. 9 Practice Report

Spirits were high, the sun was shining bright, and 105 Cardinal and White-clad football players took the field on Monday for the start of 2010 Stanford training camp...

Because the practice was mostly closed (behind the now-infamous fort) it was tough to get a read on any of the standouts/interesting tidbits that usually accompany fall practice, but The Bootleg was on hand to snap some photos and get reaction from head coach Jim Harbaugh.

There were a few items worth sharing from today's session, though.

  • At the recent "Summer Session with Jim Harbaugh" at the Alpine Inn, Coach Harbaugh referenced a "cardiac need" to develop a backup long snapper in the event something happens to Zach Nolan. Judging from today's practice, Ben Gardner and Coby Fleener appear candidates to fill that hole, as they joined Nolan in snap practice.
  • We learned that wide receiver Griff Whalen had been put on scholarship (Coach Harbaugh talked about this in more detail in his media session.) With the addition of Whalen and kicker Nate Whitaker to the scholarship ranks, Stanford sits with 83 of 85 possible slots full.
  • But arguably the most important development of the day was the revelation that the Mohawk seems to be making the rounds among the Stanford football team. Shayne Skov, for one, was sporting a ‘hawk that seemed to fit him well. Ben Gardner on the other hand….

Onto the Post-Practice Q and A with coach Jim Harbaugh:

(It's worth noting that there was a fairly sizeable media contingent at practice today, and some of the questions asked of Harbaugh might be pretty familiar to Booties.)

Opening remarks

It was good, it was a good practice. It was nice being able to work with the young guys so much. We had a good three-hour practice with them. With the principle of first learning you want their first learning to be really good, because that's what they're going to remember the best. They had a lot of good one-on-one time with our coaches and now they have a lot of good tape to watch. So I was impressed. There was a ton of good things in the morning. An awful lot of guys were impressive this morning. Some guys like Anthony Wilkerson, Blake Leuders and Devon Carrington were impressive. Barry Browning was impressive. Kyle Olugbode was impressive David Parry was impressive. Ricky Seale and the quarterbacks were good, too. Brett Nottingham and Darren Daniel both did a very nice job, so there were a lot of highlights that stood out form the morning practice. It didn't feel like a first practice from the first-year guys. It looked like they were really up to speed on what they were doing and it's a good-looking, different-looking class that we've ever had here.

On the leadership role of Andrew Luck

There's no question he's a part of this team and a big part of this team. He was in a leadership position last year and I don't think it's that much different than what he did last year from the quarterback position. He knows that the spotlight is on him in a lot of ways and he's prepared himself for that.

On Owen Marecic going two ways

If there's anybody who can pull it off, it's Owen. We've said this before, but we think he's the perfect football player. He just does so many things right and I think he's trained himself for this. He worked intensely this summer. They tell me he would work out in the morning and then come back and work out again in the afternoon for two or three hours. He's embraced it, he's committed to it. We know it has its perils and its merits, but we'll monitor it as it goes.

On the rationale behind the freshmen practicing separately from the veterans

There's 35 of them, so it's a big group. It was a class where we pretty much had a guy at each position. Secondly, just the principle of first learning, I'm excited about this class and I think there are some guys who can contribute right away and I want their first learning to be a lot and have a lot of reps and not just have to watch it but actually do it themselves. And I also want them to be up to speed by the time we hit the sixth practice because I think there are some guys that have a chance to be incorporated into the two deep.

We'll do this for five practices and then practice six we'll all be together, At least by the time we get to six, we can incorporate some of those young guys in the two deep perhaps, perhaps not. And they for sure won't slow us down as much because they will have gotten a lot of reps themselves. And from there, whoever is practicing the best will be the starters and in the two deep but I think it gives those guys more of a chance to get in to the lineup because we really think some of these guys really have the ability to do it.

On the plan for the tailback rotation

Well right now, since the three young guys were going this morning so they got a ton of reps, Wilkerson and Ricky Seale and Andrew Stutz. And then Gaffney and Jeremy Steward and Taylor and Usua Amanam in the later practice. All of them got good reps. We'll see. Right now we're just rolling through and letting them compete and giving them all a shot.

On the breakdown of reps for the backup quarterbacks

It was all equal today. We had six quarterbacks all take equal reps.

On Alex Loukas balancing his time between quarterback and safety

Our plan right now with him is to go offense one day, defense the next, the same thing we're doing with Owen. And then the days he's on defense we'll take him during the special teams period and make sure he doesn't lose a day at quarterback. He looked really sharp today throwing the football. I thought Alex threw the ball today as well as I've ever seen him.

On veterans that stood out at the first practice

I was just really trying to think about that as I was walking off the field here. It was a high number of guys. When the veterans were practicing, the tempo noticeably went up. The coverage was extremely tight. I thought Richard Sherman and I thought Corey Gatewood did a nice job. Johnson Bademosi looked really good. Delano Howell is in great shape. The two outside backers looked terrific. Shayne Skov made a bunch of good plays. I didn't really see the interior as well and I'll get that on tape, but Ryan Whalen, Chris Owusu, all the guys. Luck was extremely sharp. It was a really good first practice and it gives us something to watch and then build on.

On the potential of Shayne Skov

I mean he's got a great teacher in Vic Fangio. He has a ton of talent. He got great experience last year. I think he has the tools and we're trying to make him into a carpenter. He's on the right path and we have high expectations for him for tomorrow and the next day, and we'll just take it one day at a time, but he looks good.

On the new policy of closed practice

Yeah, there's been some of the reporters that have posted video on the websites and I just don't see the upside of doing it. Because of the twittering, the texting, there's just no upside in doing it. So we're going to close the practices. We have some schemes and things we want to protect and this is what we think is best for us to do.

On Griff Whalen being put on scholarship

Griff will be on scholarship for the fall, and he earned it. So I'm excited about that. Nathe Whitaker also was put on scholarship last spring.

On the current scholarship situation

[We're at] 83. I'd give a high-90 percentage possibility for Zach Nolan. I think he's definitely going to be a guy who, if he continues to do a good job, will be on scholarship probably in the next couple of weeks. There will be a lot of competition for the next one. Possibly one of the true freshmen. There are some real good possibilities there. [Maybe] Myles Muagututia. We'll see.

On a timeline to form a running back rotation

Sometimes you say eight practices in, but I don't think it's like the quarterback position. I think it will be one of those things with who is practicing the best and most consistently and who's picking up the protections, holding onto the football. Some of that will be determined when we start bumping and scrimmaging but I think you can assume right now that Patch, Jeremy Stewart, probably has a little bit of a lead there to be the starter. Then Gaffney and Taylor are in the rotation. Then we'll see about Wilkerson and Usua, how many touches they get, but both of them looked pretty good today. And Ricky [Seale].

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 (sign-up)!

The Bootleg Top Stories