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Notebook: Washington State
Courtesy: David Kiefer  
Release: 09/25/2013
STANFORD, Calif. – The loss of safety Ed Reynolds for the first half of Saturday’s Pac-12 North game as required punishment for “targeting,” will leave the secondary a little thin, especially given Washington State’s penchant for the passing game out of its spread attack.

The Cougars threw 60 passes against the Cardinal last year, in a 24-17 Stanford victory.

Devon Carrington will start in Reynolds’ spot, but the defensive backfield rotation will be compromised, especially if cornerback Barry Browning remains out of action with an undisclosed injury.

“In the second half, we’ll get Ed back and still rotate Devon at safety and at corner,” said David Shaw, Stanford’s Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football. “But Barry’s a key to having a rotation and keeping guys fresh.”

Carrington will make defensive calls, just as Reynolds did. As a fifth-year senior, he is versed in the defensive schemes and understands everyone’s role.

“That’s why I feel so good about him going out there,” Shaw said.

* * *

The targeting call – launching oneself at a player while leading with the crown of the helmet – was never argued by Shaw or Reynolds, who hit Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly on a blitz in the fourth quarter of Stanford’s 42-28 conference-opening victory Saturday.

“We’ve never taught that,” Shaw said. “I’ve never seen him do it, ever. This is year No. 4 with Ed, and I recruited him for two years in high school and watched every game, and never saw him lower his head on anybody.

“Sometimes, it’s one of those split-second things that just happen. But the bottom line is that in this era of football, you can’t do it. The punishment is just. It’s what’s necessary as a deterrent for those types of hits. We’ll accept it and move on.

“It was completely unintentional by him. Ed does not play the game to hurt people, or to get hurt. He wanted to hit the quarterback -- he had missed a sack earlier -- and he was going in and got a clear shot. He doesn’t know why, and we don’t know why he ducked his head.”

* * *

Last year, Stanford needed all of its school single-game record 10 sacks in leeching out its victory over Washington State. It took the 10th, by Henry Anderson, on the game’s final play to clinch the victory.

“They’ve seen a lot of teams use some of the pressures we used last year, and Washington State has adjusted to them,” Stanford defensive end Ben Gardner said. “We’re going to have to show some new looks. And it might be a little frustrating for us, because their quarterback (Connor Halliday) is going to get the ball out quick.

“But we’ve got to keep coming, make tackles on their playmakers in space. And when we get to the quarterback, we’ve got to hit him and put him down. We’ve got guys who can move up and down the line, switch positions and rush from different angles. I think we’re well-suited to stop them.”

* * *

Anthony Wilkerson is coming off his most productive game of the young season, rushing for 70 yards in 18 carries, with a 12-yard touchdown run. Shaw clarified Wilkinson’s role, switching as he does with Tyler Gaffney as the team’s primary ballcarrier.

“He’ll get a series here and a series there where we’ll put him in and leave him in,” Shaw said. “He’ll also get specific plays when Gaffney’s in the game because he’s fast, he’s quick, and he can run through arm tackles.

“That’s why I’m excited about Gaffney coming back (from a year off to focus on minor-league baseball), because we can have this 1-2 punch with quick physical guys who can also break long runs. Throughout the year, you’re going to see both those guys get a lot of plays.

“For Anthony, he’s never had a chance to completely get in a rhythm because of the backs that we’ve had. But we’re going to make a concerted effort this year to make sure he does because he needs to go in and just play.”

* * *

Last week, Stanford allowed Arizona State to scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, cutting a 22-point deficit to 39-28 with 6:18 left.

Shaw acknowledged that “the foot came off the gas pedal.

“I wouldn’t say we weren’t playing hard. We were playing hard. But we lost the details. We can’t lose our edge just because the score’s out of whack. It’s coaches, players, it’s all of us. We have to make sure, regardless, that we play our brand of football from beginning to end.”

* * *

Washington State coach Mike Leach is known for the fast-paced style of his offense, just as he created earlier in his career at Texas Tech. However, Shaw is impressed with another trademark of Leach’s Washington State team: Its defense.

“Guys are where they’re supposed to be, and they’re making tackles,” Shaw said. “They’ve got athletes. And they’re aggressive.”

And the Washington State offense?

“It’s clicking,” Shaw said. “You see guys with a great understanding. You see them moving the ball and throwing in tight windows. That’s what I remember about Texas Tech. Guys don’t have to be wide open. You’re starting to see those plays.”

* * *

A night after Kevin Hogan gained 27 yards on a big fourth-quarter naked bootleg against Arizona State, former Stanford great Andrew Luck scored on a naked bootleg for the Indianapolis Colts in their 27-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Hogan noticed.

“Pretty funny,” he said. “Same exact play.”

The Colts’ offensive coordinator is Pep Hamilton, who served in the same role for Stanford last season.

“I checked with Pep this morning,” Shaw said. “The same philosophy, same thought process. Run the play if they’re crashing the backside.”

* * *

With the fall quarter beginning this week, Stanford players are becoming creative in finding time to prepare for the next game.

Armed with digital playbooks, players are encouraged to watch film if they have a spare few minutes between classes.

“Everyone does that,” Hogan said. “It’s extremely convenient.”

Hogan did add that he’s never studied the playbook in class.

* * *

Gardner’s block of Arizona State quarterback Kelly’s quick kick was the third block of his career.

“I actually knew he was going to punt it before the snap, because he ran to the line, said something, and then dropped back 8-9 yards,” Gardner said. “We had seen it on film. I thought, from watching it on film, that I might be able to beat the tackle inside. I figured, I’d give it a try and it worked out for us.”

* * *

Sophomore offensive guard Joshua Garnett has been a regular in Stanford’s “Ogre” packages, lining up in the backfield, the slot, or as a tight end in the team’s jumbo run formations.

“Me and Kyle Murphy and Johnny Caspers will look at each other, and we’ll all waddle out there,” Garnett said. “Well, at least I’ll waddle out there -- they’re more athletic than me. We think it’s really funny, especially on TV. I think, ‘What’ll it look like when we go in motion?’”

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