8-17 Post-Practice With Harbaugh and Skov

After the conclusion of Tuesday's practice, The Bootleg was on hand to catch up with Jim Harbaugh and sophomore linebacker Shayne Skov.

Highlights of Post-Practice Session with Jim Harbaugh

Opening remarks
Nice salty practice today. We're competing. It was a good morning practice. Competition and everybody not talking and just competing. Little edge and saltiness to it.

James McGillicuddy, a sixth-year player, has obviously been through a lot. What does that show you about a player like that?
It's great perseverance. He found a role last year and now he's competing for a starting spot this year. He's an integral member of the team. But the perseverance comes in where he spent two years where he couldn't play at all but was out here every day at practice getting treatment, following along. He was a defensive tackle for awhile and then we moved him to the offensive line. But the big point was that the doctors only gave him a 15% chance of being able to play football again after the second patella. There are some advances in medicine that were done right here at Stanford, and James was very fortunate to get in on that technology. But what most normal people, given a 15% chance of playing football again and risking later health [would stick it out]? Only a guy who loves football is going to go down that path.

How's tight end shaping up?
That's another really competitive spot. It's just a daily battle there. Levine, Konrad, Fleener, and Ertz, and Hewitt is really another guy who's stepped up. I went home and thought about it last night. Bentler… we have more than just the guys I mentioned yesterday.

When will you decide your starting lineup? How will that work? The final starting lineup will be determined from now and during the week leading up to the Sacramento State game. We'll play the guys who are playing and practicing the best.

Was there anybody in particular that you thought had a great first week?
Yea, Andrew Luck has been really sharp. Ryan Whalen is having a great camp. Owen is having a great camp. Skov is playing extremely well. Michael Thomas is doing a great job. Chase Thomas, Keiser. Probably the most dominating guy so far in this camp has been Fua.

We touched on most of the position battles yesterday, but can you comment on the standing of the three second-year wide receivers, Jemari Roberts, Jamal Patterson, and Drew Terrell?
Drew is having a really good camp. Patterson and Jemari both are really doing some really good things and mentally just getting a grasp of the entire playbook, there's a lot in it. So that's the thing. Physically, Jemari Roberts and Jamal Patterson can both be very good. They're good now at a percentage of things that we do and it's just a matter of staying good and keeping good at that and getting better at what they're good at and then broadening out what they're good at. Putting more on their menu.

Can you talk about Usua Amanam? He was obviously banged up for part of last year, but what can Stanford fans expect from him? How do you think he'll be featured in the offense?
Well, that's getting into gameplan type of stuff, but picture a guy that could keep away from you in a phone both. That's Usua.

What are your thoughts on Lee Ward? I talked to him yesterday and he mentioned that he like Stanford's smash-mouth offense because it was ‘real football' unlike what some other schools feature? Seems like your kind of player?
Lee got everybody's attention today and really, there was some hooting and hollering and some fun because he had a block where he literally pancaked a guy. That got the juice flowing today.

He's a guy you can definitely see contributing even though he came in as a walk-on?
Yeah, no question about it. There are some other guys, too. David Parry, Lee Ward, Jeff Trojan are three guys right off the bat. Conor McFadden. Those guys will play. Jackson Cummings is a guy that can play here. Kyle Olugbode. Those six guys are going to play here at Stanford.

You mentioned Michael Thomas was doing a great job. What has stood out so far about his play?
He's just a constant hustle guy, hustling at all times. It's really important to him. He plays fast, he plays physical but he's always moving those feet and is always playing hard.

Full Transcript of Post-Practice Interview with Shayne Skov

On entering his second fall training camp, and how his experience is different than in year one:
"It's kind of crazy the things you can learn in a year. I expected to learn some things, but the opportunity for what I've had over the past year has been awesome. From the things I learned from Coach Buh and Clint and now with Coach Fangio just from the cerebral point of the game, understanding the philosophies and the things that coordinators think about, I've grown a lot in that regard.

Obviously you had the spring with the new coaching staff, but if you could expound upon some of the differences you've seen with this new defensive coaching staff in fall camp:
It's actually quite similar to be honest with you. We come out here and we grind, that's just what we do, trying to get better. Just focusing on the little things every day in practice, go in to watch film, and try to teach those things up go out here and execute them again. We're just trying to get better.

Scheme-wise, you played outside in the 4-3 last year and will move inside in the 3-4 this year. What's that transition like for you? I enjoy it. [My] personal preference is that I like to be in the inside messing with the big guys. It's nice to have Owen out there next to me. The two of us together have been enjoying camp. I've at least enjoyed playing next to him and I'm looking forward to the next season of playing inside.

Will Owen be calling the defensive signals when he's in there or will that be like a split responsibility?
When he's in there he's in charge. I'm deferring to him.

When he's not?
We'll see. For now he's in there and I fully expect him to be playing

With the transition to the 3-4, Chase Thomas and Tom Kesier moved to the linebackers group. How do you think they've been doing so far?
Chase has been phenomenal, even in the spring. I think he fits perfectly into our scheme. He has great hands and is a great player so I expect great things from him. Keiser has just been a force out there. I think he'll surprise a lot of people with his pass coverage. I think a lot of people are sleeping on him in that regard and I think he'll be a pleasant surprise for Stanford fans.

We obviously can't really see anything, but do you feel like you've been taking on any more of a leadership role in your second year?
I try to fit in where I can. I'm still younger than a lot of guys on our defense so I don't want to overstep my bounds, but all of us collectively really try to bring an emotional level this year that matches or surpasses the offense. Together, picking each other up and being on that high note as long as we're on the field.

Is there any sort of a chip on the defense's shoulder that you were perceived as maybe the weakness of the team last year?
Some people may have said that but I think more than anything it's a new beginning this year, just like any other year. We're looking to dominate the Pac-10 defensively.

Have any of the freshmen in your position group been particularly impressive to you?
I think that all those guys, Lueders, Hemschoot, they're all starting to pick things up. They got blasted with a lot of stuff right off the bat. I remember last year it was kind of daunting but they're going to develop and they're going to perform. Some of them might even get the chance this year. They'll be fine.

Any new celebrations that we'll see after last year's ‘flying pistol' against Oregon?
No. Won't be any more of those or I might be on my way to the bench.

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