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Khalil Wilkes will start at center for the Cardinal
#CardCamp13 Notes & Quotes
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 08/29/2013

STANFORD, Calif. – The Stanford football team had its final media availability of the preseason on Thursday morning and head coach David Shaw provided a glimpse of what the opening lineup could be, while stipulating that the team’s depth and specific circumstances would dictate playing time.

Shaw named starters at three hotly-contested positions during the preseason with Khalil Wilkes earning the nod at center, Wayne Lyons at cornerback and James Vaughters at outside linebacker.

Here is what David Shaw had to say to the media:

Shaw on the center position …

Khalil Wilkes will be our starting center. He’s done a great job all training camp and is really close. We feel like we’ve got three awesome centers that can play but Khalil will start the season as our center and hopefully carry us all the way though. He’s a fifth-year senior. You can feel his leadership and his command of the offense. Having him start at guard last year—his understanding of what we do and how we do it has been great.”

Shaw on the corner position …

“Corner has been even tougher than center. Wayne Lyons will start at the corner position for us. Knowing that, Devon Carrington and Barry Browning will both play. Devon’s had a phenomenal camp. He’s going to rotate in at safety and at corner. He’s just one of those utility guys that plays both positions at a high level. Barry Browning has had a lot of really good practices. He had the great day the other day. He’s getting his hands on balls, he’s playing great, he had an interception today; it was phenomenal. As much as you guys talk about who actually starts, those guys are going to play and play a lot.” 

Shaw on the outside linebacker position … “The same thing at the outside linebacker position. James Vaughters will start but Blake Lueders is going to play a lot. Both of them are so physical and so great they’ll both play in base and both play in nickel. They’re just really, really good football players. The best thing for us is we’ll rotate guys. There shouldn’t be a drop off. We believe we’ve got guys that are ‘starters’ at all those positions.”

Shaw on the depth at running back …

“As I said from the beginning, we aren’t going to name any ‘starter’ at running back. It depends on what the first play of the game is. If the first play of the game is best for Ty Montgomery to play running back, he’ll play running back. I say that jokingly, but our two lead dogs are going to be 25 and 32, Gaffney and Wilkerson. They’re both big, physical guys who run the ball the way we want to run them. We won’t name a ‘starter’ there. You will see Barry Sanders play. You will see Ricky Seale play. You will see Remound Wright play, he’s had another outstanding camp. We’re in the running back position we were in a few years ago. We’re going to play four guys. As evidenced by Jeremy Stewart playing extremely well for the [Oakland] Raiders right now, Jeremy was our ‘fourth’ back, but he led us in touchdown rushes. That’s kind of where we are.”

Shaw on the limitations of designating starters … “Over the length of camp, we base everything on pure competition. The best thing is, all those guys that I mentioned in the competition, they’ve showed us they need to play. Barry Browning needs to play. He’s too good not to play. Devon Carrington is too good not to play. Blake Leuders is way too good not to play. Those guys will play and play a lot. But, who’s the first guy on the field? That’s the only decision we made.”

Shaw on Vaughters and Lueders …

“It’s competition over the whole length of camp. Both guys are versatile, both guys do good in pass rush, both guys do good in man coverage, both guys do a good job rushing the passer and they both do well against the run. James is doggone 260 and Blake is 255. Big physical guys with length. It was close. I don’t want to get into details. I don’t like spitting out stats. Bottom line I look at them both as starters.

“I would never name starters if I didn’t have to. If we didn’t have to put it on paper and if you guys didn’t bug me about it every three days for it. I don’t think it matters. Does not matter one bit. We’re going to play three fullbacks. We might play four tight ends throughout the year. We’re going play seven or eight offensive linemen. Who’s in the first play of the game has never mattered to me and it’s not really that important but we have to name ‘starters’ and we have to put them on paper so everyone can know who is the ‘starter.’”

Shaw on overall depth …

“We feel we do have depth. We have multiple guys that could or should start. And can start. And play a lot. That’s been the biggest thing that’s changed in Stanford football in probably the past five years. We have depth. We can rotate guys in. As opposed to having really good front line guys and having no one to back them up. The guys get blown out through a game or throughout a season. We feel like we are at least two deep at just about every position on both sides of the ball.”

Shaw on Wilkes and McFadden …

Khalil Wilkes. Command. Having command of the offense and being able to make all those calls. Sometimes the quarterback changes the play and the ball is going to be snapped in three seconds. So he’s got to communicate it, snap the ball and get his job done all in less than three seconds. He’s shown the ability to do that. Connor McFadden has been great also. Connor’s right there. If anything ever happened and Connor had to go in and play we don’t feel there’s going be any drop off. He’s going to go in and play well. As far as starting the game and starting the season Khalil Wilkes is our guy.

“It’s huge. It’s hard. That was honestly the hardest part about Khalil last year. He was in two battles (guard and center). That’s hard. Coming in this year, if he had to take a couple reps at guard, he’d hop in there with no issues. I think playing a lot last year helped him a ton. He saw so many looks. He’s done a great job and I’m proud of him.”

Shaw on Tyler Gaffney

“Gaffney has come back from baseball. He’s actually bigger and stronger. He’s 220 pounds. He’s got a passion for football. Much like he’s always had but I think a little extra now because the baseball has been removed from his mind. He’s had passion for both and he’s been a year-round football and baseball player. But now to be able to just concentrate on football, take the entire summer to get ready for football, has really shown. He’s great in pass protection, he’s been great in knowing what to do, he’s been great talking to the younger guys. It’s been a real treat to have him back.”

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