Aug. 3, 2011
This is the eighth installment of a 10-part series that will breakdown Stanford by position as the Cardinal prepare for the start of training camp on Monday, August 8. In this segment, we take a look at the quarterback position, where Heisman Trophy candidate Andrew Luck returns to lead a high-powered Stanford offense that averaged over 40 points a game last season.
STANFORD, Calif. --Contrary to popular opinion, competition for playing time at quarterback will be one of the most scrutinized position battles when Stanford opens training camp next week.
The most-watched quarterback in camp might not be who you think it is. With Andrew Luck returning to preside over an offense that has set school scoring records each of the last two seasons, Stanford's coaches know it's time to start thinking about what its football landscape might look like without its Heisman Trophy candidate under center.
Cardinal coaches will keep a watchful eye on the development of sophomores Josh Nunes and Robbie Picazo, along with redshirt freshman Brett Nottingham throughout training camp and beyond, as Stanford begins planning for succession at this position in the years ahead.
Freshmen Evan Crower (San Diego/St. Augustine HS), Kevin Hogan (McLean, VA/Gonzaga College Prep) and Adam Brzeczek (Queen Creek, AZ/Queen Creek HS) round out the quarterbacks listed on Stanford's preseason roster.
"We feel the backup quarterback position is one of the most important positions on our football team," said Pep Hamilton, who has promoted to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in the offseason after working with the wide receivers last year. "There is not a set time table on our decision on who will be that backup quarterback."
After being named the Pac-10's Offensive Player of the Year and finishing second in the Heisman Trophy balloting last season, it's exciting to imagine what Luck's encore performance might look like come season's end, but first things first.
While Luck's enormous presence can mask a lot of unknowns heading into the season, there are still questions that need to be answered immediately if Stanford is to continue on its torrid scoring pace of the last two seasons.
"He has a cast of characters in the receiving corps and on the offensive line that he will have to help get to the point of being consistent performers," said Hamilton. "His biggest challenge will be to develop continuity with the receivers and develop the trust of the guys upfront."
"There has been a lot said about Andrew in the offseason," continued Hamilton. "For any quarterback, the measure of success in whether your team wins or loses and our team's success with Andrew is well-documented."
Stanford has posted a 20-5 record over the last two seasons with Luck under center, including winning a school-record 12 games a year ago, capped off by an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.
"His strongest attribute is his consistency," said Hamilton. "He is such a student in the meeting rooms and on the practice field. He drives guys to pay attention to the details and to the exactness of what we are trying to do."
As Stanford reluctantly faces the reality it must prepare for life after Luck, it's comforted knowing the possible successors to the position will benefit from another year of mentorship from a player whose name is rightfully spoken in the same reverent tones as some of his notable predecessors.