April 14, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Head coach David Shaw and rest of the coaching staff will have a lot to ponder for the next four months before Stanford opens its preseason training camp in early August.
The quarterback battle between Brett Nottingham and Josh Nunes will surely spill over into training camp. Two huge holes still need to be filled on the offensive line, with no shortage of candidates to step in at right guard and left tackle, specifically. Consistent playmakers need to emerge at the wide receiver position.
However, if one thing is for certain following the Cardinal & White Spring Game on Saturday at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco - Stanford's defense will play a huge role in the Cardinal's fortunes in 2012.
The White (defense) defeated the Cardinal, 37-29 Saturday before an estimated crowd of 5,000 on a clear and blustery day on the venerable grounds in the southeast corner of Golden Gate Park.
The modified scoring system awarded the defense four points when it stopped the offense before it crossed the 50-yard line, seven points for turnover before the offense crossed the 50, two points for stops after the offense crossed the 50, three points after a stop with a turnover after the offense crossed the 50 and one point for holding the offense to a field goal.
The White team racked up points in all categories and survived a late rally by the Cardinal to claim an eight point victory.
The White squad also forced a fumble and took advantage of an interception on a bobbled pass by Jordan Richards at the goal line on the last play of the first half and took a 17-15 lead into intermission.
The defense recorded stops on the first five series of the second half, including stuffing the first four drives before the offense reached midfield, to take a 35-15 lead.
The Cardinal made things interesting late in the game, as Nunes completed a four-yard touchdown pass on a slant route to Ty Montgomery and capitalized on its next drive as Evan Crower found Jackson Cummings for a 35 yard touchdown to make the score 35-29.
The game ended when Stanford's top defensive unit stuffed the offense on a fourth and 10 play from the 31 yard line, earning two points and a 37-29 victory.
"Our defensive pressure was very impressive," said Shaw. "Our front seven is about as deep as you will find in the conference. When everybody is healthy and everybody is rolling, you might want to compare them to most teams in the nation with Chase Thomas and Trent Murphy on the edge.
"We're rolling two deep on our front seven and that is extremely encouraging."
The crowd was eager to get a first hand look at Stanford's quarterback competition between Nottingham and Nunes.
Late in the game, Nunes connected again with Montgomery on a four-yard touchdown, a score that was set up by a 41-yard completion to Jamal Rashad Patterson.
Nottingham led the Cardinal on a scoring drive on his first offensive series, which culminated with a one-yard TD run by Cummings.
However, Richards intercepted Nottingham's pass intended for Patterson at the goal line after the ball was deflected, giving three points to the White squad.
Nottingham finished the afternoon completing 12 of 19 passes for 118 yards.
"I still have a lot of stuff I can clean up," said Nottingham. "I feel the offense, especially the wide receivers, stepped up and made some really nice plays today. It was tough for our offense to get into a rhythm today."
Said Nunes, "I feel like I left a lot of plays on the field today. We've got some of the best defensive linemen and outside linebackers in the country, so they definitely gave us a run for our money."
"I felt out top two quarterbacks (Nottingham and Nunes) played at times pretty well," said Shaw. "Josh made some really nice throws that were dropped and missed a couple of checks and reads we can't miss.
"Nottingham made some good throw, but once again, the same thing. There are some things you can't see from the stands, but he missed some things as well.
"That competition is still even."
Montgomery finished with six catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns, with the 45-yard grab between two defenders serving as one of the eye-opening plays of the game.
Nelson, a third-year sophomore, was also impressive, finishing with three catches for 51 yards. Patterson had three grabs for 49 yards while Davis Dudchock, who is looking to enter the tight end picture, had three catches for 38 yards.
Stepfan Taylor did not participate in the game.
Stanford will open its summer training camp on Monday, August 6 with the season opener slated for September 3 against San Jose State at Stanford Stadium.