Sept. 18, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. - The sight of fans storming the field after Stanford's 21-14 victory over visiting USC on Saturday night was both electrifying and disappointing to David Shaw, Stanford's Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football.
"I love the fact that we're excited about wins," he said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. "It wasn't long ago that some people thought this area didn't care about football. I love the excitement and enthusiasm, I think that's awesome."
However, the idea of storming a field usually stems from a feeling of surprise, that the home team wasn't expected to win. That is what bothered Shaw.
"Whether people say we should or shouldn't win, we have to go into games expecting to win," Shaw said. "We expect to play at a high level, no matter who our competition is."
That's what the fans need to remember.
"I don't want to treat it like a national holiday," Shaw said. "We won a football game, great. We've got another one in about 10 days."
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Quarterback Josh Nunes showed another dimension to his game when he scrambled on a crucial fourth-quarter third-and-10 play, broke a tackle and gained the first down. Shaw said he's discovering more and more about the first-year starter in each game, but he's not about to incorporate running plays, as Stanford did in past years for Andrew Luck.
"I'll continue to say no," Shaw said. "But sometimes the best quarterback runs are the ones that you don't call. Josh just showed he's a good football player."
Shaw said even though plays may not be designed for a Nunes run, the threat of one should help open up the offense.
"I used to give to quarterbacks things to think about for each season, and one was that a quarterback's got to run for two first downs a game," Shaw said. "Josh did that in this game, which is great because there are third downs where they've got great coverage and great pressure. If a quarterback can pick up first downs in those instances, we can pick up first downs in other ways."
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Anthony Wilkerson, Stanford's No. 2 running back behind Stepfan Taylor suffered a lower leg injury against USC and will "probably be out for the Washington game," Shaw said. "We'll see how he progresses after that."
However, that doesn't mean that true freshman Barry Sanders is any more likely to see action. Shaw said that Sanders will almost certainly redshirt.
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Far from playing a complete game, Shaw has several areas where the team needs to improve.
The top items on Shaw's list:
• "We've got to be a 60 percent completion football team. That's the way we're built."
• "We have to complete those balls to (6-foot-8 tight end) Levine Toilolo. When we have the big guy matched up one on one, we've got to give it to him."
• "We've got to incorporate the receivers into what we're doing. I feel like we are deep at receiver. We've got to make sure those guys get opportunities."
• "We've gotten better, but we need to be better at short yardage."
• "We're known for scoring touchdowns in the red zone. We've got to score touchdowns, we can't be trying field goals. And if we kick them, we've got to make them."
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When Shaw returned home after Saturday's game, his wife Kori wanted to replay the game on TV. David said he'd rather watch something else.
"I watched it already," he said.
Shaw said he is not one to savor a victory, no matter how big.
"You can't linger," he said. "Tom Brady is hungry every day. I was around Jerry Rice for a year, he holds every single record, he was 39 years old, and he's there an hour before practice and an hour after practice.
"If you want to be good at something, you have to concentrate on the work. You can't concentrate on the achievements and you can't concentrate on the pats on the back. That's what we're training our guys to do."
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Linebacker Shayne Skov has 11 tackles in two games. Good numbers, but ones that don't come close to illustrating his impact since returning from a knee injury that caused him to miss most of last season.
"We've had great leadership on that side of the ball, but there's something extra on gameday that Shayne gives you: that energy, that presence," Shaw said. "He doesn't have to make any tackles, it doesn't matter. The fact that he's out there and guys know he's going to bleed for him.
"He'll take on a block, he'll take on two blocks, if it's going to get somebody else free. That extra something continues to elevate our defense.
-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics