STANFORD, Calif. – Exactly two months after playing in its second straight Rose Bowl Game, the Stanford football team got back into the public eye with the first of three open practice sessions Saturday morning at the Elliott Football Practice Fields.
The two-time defending Pac-12 champion Cardinal went through numerous practice progressions before finishing with a 25-minute scrimmage in front of fans who turned out despite intermittent rain and heavy winds.
The play proved to be even on both sides of the ball with the first offensive unit driving downfield only to be turned away with an interception in the end zone. The second unit drove for a touchdown on a short fourth-down opportunity - amidst four abbreviated possessions combined.
Kevin Hogan, entrenched as the starting quarterback, was 3-of-5 for 40 yards, which included a 22-yard strike over the middle to big wideout Devon Cajuste among three straight completions. Kyle Olugbode ended that opening drive when he jumped in front of Hogan pass for an interception in the end zone.
On its opening drive, the second team offense scored on fourth-and-two with Evan Crower threading a touchdown pass to Greg Taboada. Crower was 5-of-6 on the drive for 39 yards. The big play was a 20-yard screen pass to Kelsey Young, which moved the ball down to the 26 yard line before Jordan Watkins made the tackle from behind in showcasing good pursuit skills. Watkins was credited unofficially with five tackles on the day to lead the defense.
All told, Crower was an efficient 6-of-8 for 50 yards.
Among the running backs looking to fill the void left by Tyler Gaffney, Barry Sanders had two carries for 16 yards, Remound Wright had three carries for 12 yards, Ricky Seale had four carries for 17 yards and Young had two carries for 14 yards, all unofficially.
Defensively , freshman Mike Tyler recovered a fumble on the second of two quarterback exchange mishaps while John Flacco and Calvin Chandler each got into the backfield for tackles-for-loss. Aziz Shittu had a strong second series on the defensive front, recording three tackles on four plays including a seven-yard sack.
Stanford will hold another open practice next Saturday, March 8, at 9 a.m. prior to the men’s basketball game against Utah. Another open practice is slated for April 5 (time to be determined) as the final lead-in to the annual Cardinal & White Spring Game, April 12 at 1 p.m. in Stanford Stadium.
Stanford’s season opens Aug. 30 against UC Davis to begin a three-game homestretch to start the season.
Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football David Shaw on the team’s first scrimmage …
“The energy was there, which you want to see as a coach… it was not clean by any stretch of the imagination but the bottom line is that guys played hard and we’ll get better from today.”
Shaw on the leadership and vocal players …
“That’s part of the job of being center. He’s got to be the mouthpiece of the offensive line. At the same time, I thought that Josh Garnett has been phenomenal as a leader for us. He’s practiced extremely well; he’s been setting the tone and that big left side has been extremely good for us.”
Shaw on the running backs …
“It’s been good. Remound Wright has been very steady. He’s made some big runs and some very good, very smart decisions. Ricky Seale, the same way. Ricky’s that guy who’s been inside/ outside; he’s done everything for us; he’s been phenomenal. And then we’ve had a couple guys become big play run guys for us in Barry Sanders and Kelsey Young. Those two guys broke some tackles today and made some big plays in turned short gains into long games … Barry Sanders and Ricky Seale are special ‘in space.’ They’re special.”
Shaw on the nickleback competition …
“We’re going to move those guys around. Ronnie (Harris) has played great at corner, not good, he’s played great at corner. We’ve tried Wayne Lyons inside at nickel and he’s been really, really good so Wayne probably has the edge at nickel. He’s playing extremely well there. Ronnie has done well there at corner but they’re all rotating in at corner.”
Senior SS Jordan Richards on the first spring practice …
“It's good to be back out there on the field. We had a few live periods, and we enjoyed going against the offense and getting in some thumps. We're looking forward to improving and hope the rest of the spring continues to go well for the team.”