March 7, 2013
STANFORD, Calif. - Given the success the Stanford football team has achieved the last three years – three-straight BCS bowl appearances, you might think new Cardinal offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren is feeling added pressure. Well, think again.
Bloomgren, who was the offensive line/running game coordinator the past two seasons, believes he is more than ready to handle the added responsibility previously held by Pep Hamilton, who accepted the offensive coordinator job with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts. Bloomgren feels fortunate to be surrounded by a great staff led by David Shaw, the Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football. And, the players and system are in place to challenge for another Pac-12 championship.
“We’ve got good guys that make this roll pretty well,” a hoarse Bloomgren said last Saturday after the team’s first contact workout. “It hasn’t been too much added stress.”
Said Shaw, “The guys love his energy.”
The offense must replace talented starters at center, running back, tight end and wide receiver, but Bloomgren thinks the roster contains capable replacements.
“For us, you talk about all those places where guys have to improve to take on those starting roles, guys that haven’t been there before,” he said. “We’ve laid out a good plan for where they need to get to and how they need to get there, but they’ve got to do it.”
That is why the 15 spring practices are so important. There is a sense of urgency for players to step up, but also for them to make good impressions heading into fall camp.
“It goes a long way towards taking those skills that we teach, to the skills that we drill, to now making them happen live and them feeling the success of those things and really buying in completely,” said Bloomgren.
As for play-calling responsibilities, Shaw and Bloomgren will have most of the say. “We typically do it as a group,” Shaw said. “We’ll take information from all the coaches. It won’t be a one-man show by any means.”
Many players got their first taste of live action last Saturday and some stood out. Bloomgren and the other coaches will be looking for execution and consistency, with hopes of solidifying many positions by the Cardinal & White Spring Game on April 13 at 3 p.m. in Stanford Stadium.
One thing is certain: Stanford’s smash-mouth, run-first offensive philosophy isn’t going to change.
“That’s the kind of world I live in and the world we love,” Bloomgren said. “I don’t think a lot needs to change and that’s a big key. Pep did a great job here and we’ve all had a lot of input as a staff and we’re going to continue to.” That doesn’t mean they are going to stand pat.
“We’re going to go study people,” said Bloomgren. “We’re going to do our job and not just sit here and think we have all the answers. We’re going to get out there and meet with a couple NFL teams, some offensive staffs and a couple college teams. So we’ll keep working and see what fits for us.”
For Bloomgren, the mini-makeover starts up front. Arguably the top priority is replacing center Khalil Wilkes, 2012 backup Kevin Reihner, sophomore Graham Shuler and senior Kevin Danser, who started at right guard last year, will all get good looks.
The other key position is left tackle, where highly-touted sophomores Andrus Peat and Kyle Murphy, part of the prized six-member freshman offensive line class, saw extensive playing time last year. They figure prominently in the mix, along with redshirt freshman Nick Davidson.
“Andrus Peat and Kyle Murphy have done such a good job so far,” said Bloomgren. “At the center position, those guys have done a good job, too. They’re going against David Parry and some guys that don’t make it easy to do your job every day.” Not that Bloomgren is anywhere near satisfied.
“When you talk about the offensive line as a whole, what you see are a bunch of guys that are having some unbelievable individual reps and individual plays, but we don’t look anywhere near an offensive line right now,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Ultimately, here is what Bloomgren envisions next fall:
“What we want to be is a downhill, power-running team that still has the ability to throw the ball very efficiently,” Bloomgren said. “If you want one word to describe this offense and what our goals are, it’s to be ‘efficient’ and to get first-and-10 after first-and-10 and end up in the end zone. We’re trying to worry about us and do our job. If we do, we’ll keep moving the sticks and the points will come.”
With that, Bloomgren scooped up young sons Tyler and Parker, and headed back to his office. Football is back and he wouldn’t want it any other way.
“This staff, we’re a bunch of football junkies,” he said. “We’re pretty excited to be playing ball again and I think these kids, are, too.”
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Stanford will practice Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Elliott Football Practice Field. The session is open to the public.
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Former Stanford football standouts Duncan McColl and Darrin Nelson are two of 82 finalists announced this week for the 2013 College Football Hall of Fame. The ballot includes 77 players and five coaches.
McColl, a rugged defensive end, was a first-team All-American in 1976 and was a two-time All-Pac-8 selection. He holds school season records for quarterback sacks (17) and tackles for losses (27). In 1976, McColl was a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete.
Nelson, a shifty running back and return specialist, was a first-team All-American in 1981 and a four-time All-Pac-10 pick. He was the first player in NCAA history to rush for more than 1,000 yards and catch more than 50 passes in the same season. Nelson, who later became an assistant athletic director at Stanford, finished his career as the NCAA’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards, with 6,885.
The 2013 College Football Hall of Fame class will be announced May 7. Right now, Stanford is represented by 17 players and seven coaches.
-- By Mark Soltau, Stanford Athletics
Palo Alto native Mark Soltau has spent his whole life and much of his career around Stanford sports. A sportswriter for 35 years, Soltau spent 16 (1981-97) at the San Francisco Examiner, where he covered not only the Cardinal, but all five 49ers Super Bowl-championship teams. Golf always has been his passion and Soltau served as the golf beat writer for the Examiner, as well as the national golf writer for CBS Sportsline, and contributing editor to Golf Digest. He has been the editor of tigerwoods.com since 1997.