LOS ANGELES - Stanford's Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football David Shaw spent Monday morning addressing the media at The L.A. Hotel.
Don't really have much of an opening statement. We're 48 hours away, and we're honing down our preparation. Our last good physical practice today, and then start to get ourselves ready to play.
I'll take questions.
You have been to three BCS bowl games before this, obviously, and this is their first. How much of an advantage do you think this has been or will be in the game, the fact that you have been on the big stage before? I think the only real advantage if there is one is during the week. Our guys understand the schedule and know the schedule, have been through the schedule, understand the media days, understand the things that go along with it, in particular here at the Rose Bowl. But once we get to game day, Michigan State has played in big games, played in a big game against Michigan, Ohio State. They've been on that big stage. I don't think the game is going to be any different.
Just as far as navigating the week, if there is any advantage, it would be in that.
Derek Mason, what makes him a good defensive coordinator, and two, are there some things you can tell us how he's tweaked the scheme he inherited? That's two great questions. I think the sign of any good football coach at any position, head coach, coordinator, position coach, et cetera, is the ability to have a philosophy and have a general scheme that you believe in, but more importantly, be able to teach that scheme and then fit the scheme around the players that you have and their talents. I think Derek has done that, and you've seen him do things for Shayne Skov, you've seen him do things for Trent Murphy, do things for Chase Thomas, do things to help Ed Reynolds shine. You put guys in positions to do things that they're good at. So it's more than just having a great scheme and we just fit everybody into the scheme. It's having a great scheme, having a great philosophy, being able to teach it, but at the same time knowing you can tweak it for those guys and their specific abilities.
As far as the changeover from Vic, that's really the biggest thing. I think he learned a lot from Vic as well as a lot of guys that he's been with throughout his career, and I think the sign of any good coach, also, is being able to, I'll just say, steal things from other coaches, whether it's techniques or phrases, but also not take everything, have some things that are your own but things that you learn and take from other people.
I think Derek has done a phenomenal job of that.
Who will your honorary captain be for the game? We have actually technically three, although two sets. Helen and Peter Bing will be two of our honorary captains, phenomenal Stanford people, just real – they love Stanford University, they love this athletics program, they love the fine arts at Stanford. They've done so much for Stanford. All three of my kids went to Bing elementary school on campus. Very excited to have them as honorary captains. And the other one would be Julie Foudy, a great Stanford person and great motivational speaker and a tough athlete that I would love for our guys to be around.
Your counterpart Mark had to make a tough disciplinary decision on his linebacker. What is your toughest disciplinary situation? You don't need to name names, but I assume you admire him for making a tough step, and have you gone through that before and if you could describe it a little bit. Absolutely, I don't mind mentioning it. It was two years ago benching Shayne Skov in a disciplinary action. There's a guy that's very similar, your game day leader, your middle linebacker, the guy that sets your defense, the guy that tells everybody what to do, in some respects the heartbeat of your defense. Being a head coach it's your responsibility, and actions like that as a head coach, honestly, even help you in your locker room because guys know where the line is and they know that nobody is bigger than the program. I applaud Coach Dantonio for that because it doesn't happen everywhere, and there are a lot of places where you get a slap on the wrist and they bench you for a practice and then play you in the game.
But it's a sign of who Coach Dantonio is, and there's still some really, really good disciplinary coaches in this country that believe in setting discipline for these college athletes, which is vital to your success as a team but even more vital to their success after football.
I'll tell you this: Shayne Skov appreciated it. It's help Shayne Skov grow and mature as a man as well as a football player.
He's said that to you? Absolutely, there's no question about it. I think it set him on the path to where he is now as a person and as a player.
At this point in Kevin Hogan's career, how would you gauge his development of where he is and what is his ceiling? That's a good question. The last part is a really good question, what his ceiling is, and I'm not exactly sure. I believe it's high. I think he's had peaks and valleys this year. I don't think he's ever been bad all year. He's never had a bad game. I think he's been great some weeks, I think he's been good some weeks, but you never judge a game on one or two bad plays, which every quarterback is going to have during the course of a game.
I think where he is right now is getting to the end of his sophomore year, and I believe there's a lot of growth that has happened this year and I think there's a lot more growth to go. I think it's been obvious the games he's been on, and I'll say this, also there's a lot on us as coaches, also, myself in particular. This is getting towards the end of year two. I think we understand Kevin's strengths and weaknesses better now than we did at the beginning of the year. I think we know more about what he likes. I think we know more about what his capabilities are. I think in the second half of the year really there were some games where we were still doing a feeling out because there's some game plan things that we had in that I think he's good at but things we did later in the year I think were better for him and better for him. I think the maturity of the receiving corps has helped a ton. I think what Tyler Gaffney has been doing the entire year as a runner has taken a ton of pressure off Kevin, which is what a running game should do.
I think it's been a growing and learning process for both he and us, really knowing at the beginning of the year he didn't have all the answers and we didn't have all the answers. I think we're a lot better now than where we were at the beginning of the year, and I'm excited where his arrow is pointing, which is upward.
I know you're getting tired of me asking this question, but will Jordan Williamson kick off? As of right now, yes. Had a good day the other day, was striking the ball well. Conrad Ukropina will be up and ready to go, as well. We may go back and forth if we need to, if Jordan has some fatigue, but right now he's fresh, the ball is popping off his foot, and it looks like at the very least he'll start the game kicking off and hopefully do the whole game.
When you were growing up what was your favorite college team, when you were playing, in high school, whatever? You know, honestly it was – and it's almost like a setup question that I had somebody ask me. It was Stanford, but it was because of my family history here. My dad coached here in the 70s. I believe I was 2 and 3 when he was at Stanford, or maybe it was 3 and 4. So I was just around this place, had very fond memories of being at Stanford. Jack Christiansen and the whole staff there, those are some of my earlier memories, playing in the eucalyptus grove and that eucalyptus tree smell and the tailgating and sitting in the stadium, those are some of my earliest memories.
I've always loved college football. I liked Michigan and Michigan State. I was a rarity when I lived in Michigan, my dad was coaching at the Lions. I liked watching both teams play, had a lot of respect for both of those coaches, long time, great coaches at both those places. We went to Arizona and I loved Arizona State when I was there because my dad was coaching there.
I never had a pure allegiance to one university as far as college football goes, but the one that I always went back and enjoyed watching when I was a kid was Stanford, and that was because of our history with the school.
The incident with Shayne, when exactly did that happen? Gosh, I believe that was the first game of the 2011 season. First game of the 2011 season, yes. He was hurt in 2010, came back – was it '12? Got a DUI in the off season, suspended him for the entire off season and for the first game of the regular season. As I tell the guys, and most coaches that I know tell the guys, those are not really tough decisions because you set the rules before. You set the rules early, and the guys know what they are, and the rules are broken, those are easy decisions. They're tough to execute because of how good of a football player he is, but at the same time there's almost no decision. It is what it is and guys move on, and they have to realize that we're in college football, not just to win football games. We're in this to help young men grow, to set an example for my two young boys as they grow up, and they come to every single game and they come to practices, that there are rules for these men just like there are rules for them.
It's about being consistent, and once you have to discipline a player, to be honest, it's just like disciplining your child. You're helping them further in life.
Could you walk me through the history of you guys using the jumbo offensive line sets, the wing tight end and the on the grounder? I think some of that came out of necessity when you had some tight ends injured, but when did you first start to use it, how do you think it's evolved and how has it helped your program? Absolutely. It's been huge for us, and I don't think at the beginning of it we knew how big it was going to be for us. I'll just say it: We watched a lot of Baltimore Ravens film when John Harbaugh got to Baltimore, and Greg Roman who had just come from Baltimore two years before, we saw – we had Levine Toiolo, who was a great blocking tight end but who was still young in his development, and we needed bigger guys on the edge. If you want to run this power play you need a tight end to set the edge of the defense, a big tight end that's very physical. So we would sprinkle in some bigger guys just to get through practice, and it was great. We needed a wing tight end and we didn't really have a guy with that kind of physical stature. Here was James McGuillicudy, who had played five positions and none of them well. He would say the same thing. We put him on the wing, and to this day I have not seen a guy on our level or the NFL level that did it as well as him.
We kind of found lightning in a bottle, and it was just for a few plays here and there, and Greg did a great job of changing formations and motions and shifting and kind of deciding what we were doing, but that was kind of the beginning of it was watching some Baltimore Ravens film, looking at our personnel, seeing how we could utilize it and then Greg getting very creative and inventive. Now we've taken it over and we've done a lot more things. I give a lot of credit to Mike Bloomgren to finding our guys that have those specific talents in Kyle Murphy and Josh Garnett have been phenomenal all year and those guys being able to be those tight ends but also be able to shift and move and do different things, run counter plays and power plays and all those things and be in pass protection. Those guys have been great there.
But I think the trickle down effect which has been just about as important for us, here are two great offensive linemen, Josh Garnett and Kyle Murphy, who were not starters, who were playing between 20 and 30, 40 plays a game, so when it's time for those guys to start, you don't worry about them jumping in there as starters, these guys are playing a lot in every single game, so as a guy gets hurt or a guy graduates, you throw those guys in there and don't worry about it. We're playing eight offensive linemen a game, and to be honest it helps us recruit, also.
This game obviously intersects with a point in the NFL season where the regular season ends and your name has obviously been brought up as a possible candidate. How have you handled that issue? Have you been contacted by anybody, and your thoughts on staying here versus pursuing other opportunities? I haven't been contacted by anybody. To be honest it's unbelievably flattering. I think it's really cool. I think honestly it continues to shed light on our program, so I don't mind that it keeps happening. It keeps eyes turning toward Stanford, which I think is really cool. I told our players, to be honest, it's a testament to what they've accomplished, it's a testament to what our seniors have helped build at Stanford, to win consistently, win the right way, produce high character young men and have a football game that's exciting to watch.
So I don't mind it. I have no desires to pursue another job. As I said, I have not and don't plan on interviewing with anybody. I think it's really nice that my name gets batted around and that's great, and part of it is because I do have nine years of NFL experience, to it seems like an easy transition for some people.
But honestly I'm looking forward to playing this game and getting into the off season and starting to put together another winning season next year.