March 2, 2013
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford held its first open practice of the 2013 spring season Saturday morning at the Elliott Football Practice Fields.
With a large contingent of fans and media in attendance, the reigning Rose Bowl champion Cardinal took its first steps toward next season with live repetitions under game conditions. Nine competitive offensive series were the highlight of practice with balanced opportunities for first, second and third team candidates. With the balanced opportunities came big plays on both sides of the ball as positives abounded for David Shaw, the Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football.
"I'm most excited about the fact that both sides made plays - as a head coach you hate to see one side dominate so it was good to see both sides make big plays," said Shaw.
With the first team working on the opening drive, All-America candidate outside linebacker Trent Murphy made his mark with a QB hurry and two pass breakups in leading to a three-and-out.
On the second offensive series for the "ones", junior linebacker James Vaughters burst into the backfield twice for sacks to end another drive. On first down from the Cardinal 25 yard line, Vaughters caught the strong side edge and sacked starting QB Kevin Hogan with notable quickness, saddling the offense with a 10-yard loss. Five plays later, Vaughters came inside, blowing past a lineman and shedding a blocking back for another big loss.
"I thought the star of the day was unquestionably (James) Vaughters and his explosiveness ... his ability to get in the backfield," said Shaw.
While Vaughters and Murphy made the big plays, Stanford's offense also had its share of success with Hogan finding Ty Montgomery for a 15-yard catch and run on a slant pattern. Shaw also pointed to the offensive line and tight ends as points of pride, singling out Luke Kaumatule's blocking at the line of scrimmage and big plays during other segments of practice.
Working with several units, Barry Sanders had one of two offensive highlights with a 20-yard touchdown run on the third offensive series as he showed a familiar ability to shift in the backfield.
"Barry Sanders' run for a touchdown was phenomenal - he made three guys miss and got to the end zone," said Shaw. "I'm also excited about the progression of our wide receivers. Ty and Michael Rector both had really good days and Devon Cajuste showed some really good signs also."
Cajuste put the second unit into scoring position with a back-shoulder reception along the sideline from lefty QB Evan Crower that was good for 30 yards. Crower also connected with Kelsey Young on a 12-yarder while Jackson Cummings showed elusiveness and patience on a nine yard carry early in the series.
Torston Rotto logged a tackle for a loss, A.J. Tarpley sniffed out a screen pass in the flat to break up a would-be first down and Drew Madhu came up from the safety position to sniff out another screen and keep the offense from advancing. Jarek Lancaster also logged a sack to pace the defense.
"Our front seven just never surprises us," said Shaw. "Murphy is going to make plays, Ben Gardner is hard to block - those guys play so well together. Lancaster made some big hits today so that whole unit is just really fun to watch when they're all playing well."
The Cardinal will host another open practice on Saturday, March 9. The start time will be announced early this week on football's twitter page (@StanfordFBall).