Aug. 5, 2012STANFORD, Calif. -- - Stanford opened its training camp on Sunday in preparation for the 2012 season, which kicks off on Friday, August 31 with a home game against San Jose State (7:00 p.m.: Pac-12 Networks).
The Cardinal will work out daily, with the first day in full pads scheduled for Thursday. The first of five two-a-day sessions are slated to begin on Saturday.
Stanford begins training camp with a healthy dose of position battles that will be decided upon over the course of the next four weeks, including the quarterback position, where junior Josh Nunes and sophomore Brett Nottinghamwill vie for the starting job.
But for a squad that must replace four All-Americans from last year's team that finished 11-2 and ranked seventh in the both major polls, including quarterback Andrew Luck, right guard David DeCastro, left tackle Jonathan Martin and right end Coby Fleener - all of whom were selected within the first 42 picks of last spring's NFL Draft -- Stanford carries an air of quiet confidence into its second training camp under head coach David Shaw.
Still, there is no dodging the question what will Stanford look like without Luck, who quarterbacked Stanford to a combined 31-7 record over his illustrious three-year career.
While Shaw flatly states Luck is irreplaceable, the Cardinal hope to offset his loss with marked improvement across the board in all units.
The program's m.o. remains the same - a stout offensive line paving the way for a downhill running game that keys a ball-controlled offense, coupled with a defensive unit that features one of the most talented front sevens in the nation.
However, a smooth transition at the quarterback position can't be diminished as an important factor to Stanford maintaining prominent in the national level in 2012.
Shaw has stated he would like to have a starter in place midway through training camp to give the first team offense two weeks to jell with its new quarterback.
"Whoever wins that job will be one the one who does the job well, who executes, gets us into the right protections, gets us into the right running play and when the receiver is open, they get him the ball."
While Shaw was quick to state it would be unfair to measure the quarterback position by the same standards that had been set over the last three years, he hopes the pressure of filling the void of Luck is felt by every unit on the team.
"The big thing I told the team from the beginning is pressure needs to be spread to all positions. It can't just be put on the quarterback or the defense."
Center Sam Schwartzstein, left guard David Yankey and right tackle Cameron Fleming return to an offensive line void of All-Americans David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin, two players who are irreplaceable in their own right.
It's just a matter of time before highly-touted freshmen Andrus Peat, Joshua Garnett and Kyle Murphymake their presence felt and in an offense that routinely uses seven linemen sets, that time maybe sooner than later.
There are no questions surrounding Stanford's running game with the return of senior Stepfan Taylor, who has recorded back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and is well within striking distance of setting the school's all-time rushing record.
Despite the loss of Tyler Gaffney, who decided to forgo his senior season to pursue a professional baseball career, the Cardinal boasts excellent depth in the backfield with junior Anthony Wilkerson and the rapidly-improving Ricky Seale and Remound Wright.
Stanford feels it has the best fullback in the country in junior Ryan Hewitt, who ranked as the team's third leading receiver last year with 34 catches for 282 yards and five touchdowns. Of his 44 touches last year, 30 either resulted in a first down or touchdown.
The wide receiver position is a unit that must establish its identity early. Sophomore Ty Montgomery and senior Drew Terrell top the depth chart, but coaches are eager to see the progress of Jamal-Rashad Patterson and redshirt freshman Kelsey Young, as well.
While Stanford's offense might not be as explosive as the ones that set school scoring records each of the last three seasons, it may not have to be, either.
Stanford's defense, especially its front seven, is arguably stronger than last year when the Cardinal ranked in the top two of the conference in six categories.
Outside Chase Thomas, who earned Sporting News All-America honors last year, along with the return of a healthy Shayne Skovon the inside, give the Cardinal one of the top inside-outside tandems in the nation.
Last year's leading tackler Jarek Lancaster along with sophomores A.J. Tarpley, James Vaughters and Joe Hemschoot, provide options and depth alongside Skov on the inside, while junior Trent Murphyreturns to his outside linebacker slot opposite Thomas.
Two starters return up front in defensive end Ban Gardner, who earned second team all-conference honors last year and nose tackle Terrence Stephens. The other end position will likely be decided among junior Josh Mauro and sophomore Henry Anderson, with both players are ticketed for significant playing time.
Juniors Terrence Brown, Devon Carrington and Barry Browning, sophomores Jordan Richards and fifth-year senior Harold Bernard, all bring versatility and starting experience to the unit which will be bolstered by the return of sophomore free safety Ed Reynolds and sophomore cornerback Wayne Lyons, two players who missed the most it not all of last season with injury.
Individual game and season tickets for the 2012 season remain on sale on-line at GoStanford.com, at the Stanford Stadium Ticket Office or by calling 1-800-STANFORD.
Stanford football will host its annual Open House event on Sunday, August 19 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Stanford Stadium and Dan Elliott Practice Field. The event, which will include admission to Stanford's open practice, behind-the scenes tour of Stanford Stadium and its locker room facilities, football skill stations, a mini fan fest and player autographs, is free and open to the public.
Fans will also have the opportunity to take photos with the 2011 Orange Bowl Trophy, an Andrew Luckcutout and learn more about the upcoming season and the Pac-12 Networks.
2012 football posters will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis while supplies last.
Fans will also have the opportunity to select their seats for new season ticket purchases.