Sept. 6, 2011
Schwartzstein, a senior, was one of three new starters on the offensive line, which had a good showing, but with room for improvement. Stanford, with great field position most of the game, had 373 total yards, but quarterback Andrew Luck said the offense lacked rhythm.
"Sammy Schwartzstein was outstanding, off the charts," said Shaw, the Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football. "He surpassed our expectations," especially in leadership and field vision.
"He made all the calls," Shaw said. "And he made them all right, even when the front wasn't what we expected. When he came back on the sideline, he said, `Here's the adjustment that we need to make.'
"That's huge for coaches, and for him to have that command, and be so certain, and to hit all of his targets blocking ... He blocked everybody he was supposed to block and blocked them well."
Shaw also said redshirt freshman Cam Fleming at right tackle did a "good job, especially in pass protection," and redshirt freshman left guard David Yankey "played solid, but not spectacular.
"It was good for both of them, but we can still play a lot better."
Part of the reason for dissatisfaction was the Cardinal's inconsistent play in short yardage situations. Stanford was 5-for-13 on third-down conversion tries and rushed for 161 yards, after averaging 213.8 last season.
"The run game was not to our standards," Shaw said. "We wanted it to be cleaner than it was, but the young guys are still becoming a cohesive unit. We'll improve as the communication improves. It's got to."
* * *
This will be the second regular-season trip in three years to play at an Atlantic Coast Conference school, following a 24-17 loss at Wake Forest in 2009. Shaw said the biggest benefit is recruiting.
"We're one of the few true national recruiters," Shaw said. "And for us to play an East Coast game is really big because we can send some coaches out on the road to recruit the night before. And we can be visible to have some guys who are within driving distance to come watch us play."
* * *
Quarterback Andrew Luck said he doesn't remember much about that Wake Forest game. Good thing, the Cardinal lost on a touchdown run with two seconds left after leading 17-3 at halftime.
"That left a sour taste with me," Luck said. "I'd like to personally right that ship. I don't remember much about that game, other than we lost, and the five-hour plane ride back. That was awful."
* * *
Shaw assured that Stanford will not be overconfident on Saturday in light of Duke's 23-21 upset loss to lower-division Richmond.
"We have a saying, `It's not about who we play, it's how we play,'" he said. "We have some guys who are not satisfied with their performance from this week. We want to win the game, that's No. 1. And No. 2, we want to be seeing what we're teaching on the practice field, and see that on the game field. I don't think there will be an issue there."
* * *
A big lesson learned by the Stanford secondary against San Jose State was the need to wrap-up a ballcarrier or receiver and get them on the ground rather than going for the big hit.
San Jose State receiver Jabari Carr turned missed Stanford tackles into a 64-yard gain that set up the Spartans' only points.
"Missed tackles in the secondary lose games," Shaw said. "If you're a safety, you can't miss a tackle."
* * *
New starting nose tackle Terrence Stephens made an impression on a play in which he didn't make a tackle.
Stephens got hit by two linemen and split the double team, forcing a running back to come block him. In all, Stephens occupied three blockers on the play.
"Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come for Terrence," Shaw said.
* * *
Another new starter, defensive end Ben Gardner, was rewarded for his hustle by forcing SJSU quarterback Matt Faulkner to the ground in the end zone for a safety. On the play, the ball squirted out of Faulkner's hand as he tried to throw, creating a confusing situation in which the ball bounced near the foot of linebacker Chase Thomas, who never saw it.
"It's about Ben Gardner, the guy just doesn't stop," Shaw said. "He makes the effort plays, he goes hard. He gets blocked, he doesn't stay blocked.
"He's the guy we point to and say, `This is how we all need to play.'"
* * *
With a couple of exceptions, Stanford didn't throw downfield against San Jose State. Quarterback Andrew Luck said that wasn't by design.
"It was more the result of how the game was going, with the short fields," Luck said. "I don't think we were holding anything back or overlooking San Jose. We definitely came in with a loaded gun, as our coaches like to say."
* * *
Chase Thomas, on Oregon's 40-27 loss to LSU on Saturday:
"I'd love to beat Oregon if they're the No. 1 team in the country," Thomas said. "But at the same time, I'm not going to complain if I see Oregon lose."
* * *
Stanford's fastest player?
Who is second?
"There are a lot of people in the mix," he said. "I don't want to name names."
* * *
Howell, a senior, began his Stanford career as a running back. He said playing the position, until he switched two years ago, has helped his play on defense.
Howell said the positions are similar in: "Running to, through, and beyond contact," he said. "Being aggressive, being used to contact and not being afraid of it."
-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics