Aug. 25, 2004
This is the first installment of a weekly column of player reports that will let Cardinal Commitment readers in on the thoughts of Stanford football players throughout the 2004 season. Fifth-year senior cornerback Leigh Torrence kicks off the feature.
CC: How is camp progressing in the weeks leading up to the season?
LT: Camp has been going really well. Morale is great coming off of the summer we had, having pretty much the whole team here gave us a chance to gel as the summer went on through our own individual workouts. The NCAA made some changes in how practice schedules work, so there was no freshman camp, and we had five one-a-day practices before we started with two-a-days. That format changed the dynamics of camp a little bit. It's allowed us to be a little bit fresher and more upbeat at practice. With the start of camp, there's a lot of excitement and a lot of energy.
CC: As a fifth-year senior, how have you adapted to your role as a team leader?
LT: Just being a senior is a whole new experience, and it's something that we (seniors) began to realize going through the summer workouts and spring ball; that this is the last time that we'll be doing all of these things. It made me reflect on the years past, going through football camp with guys like Tank (Williams), Coy (Wire), and Marcus (Hoover). They provided really strong leadership for us as younger players, and we look to their example on how to lead the team. It's a little bit of nostalgia mixed in with the excitement of the season because it's your last opportunity to go out there and play for Stanford, and with the guys on this team. We have a lot invested in this season and this team. We try to get everyone to understand just how quickly this season will fly by and how much is going to be required both mentally and physically to go through this test.
CC: The group of defensive backs makes up one of the most experienced positions on the Cardinal squad. How do you view the role of the DB's on this season's team?
LT: We have three guys in Stan (Wilson), O.J. (Atogwe), and myself that are fifth-year seniors, and we've been playing football with each other for a long time, so there's a lot of experience there. We want to be as great a secondary as we can, and be a difference-maker for the defense. We also have great guys in Brandon Harrison, Trevor Hooper, T.J. Rushing and others stepping in, and their experience and skill completes our group.
CC: How did you prepare for the upcoming season mentally and physically?
LT: One of the great things is that I'm pretty much finished with all of my academic requirements, so that gives me a little more time to focus on football. I was also here all summer working on campus, so that helped. As I get older, I've started to realize the amount of time that you have to put in to get the results that you want. During the summer, I knew that we were all out here to get ready for the football season, and there was nothing else that really mattered. Stan (Wilson), O.J. (Otogwe), and I would go and work out until we got the work that we needed to get in. That preparation going into the season was a lot different than it has been in the past for me. It was definitely more advanced from a preparation standpoint.
CC: Have you been impressed by any of the younger defensive backs in camp?
LT: I know that a lot is expected out of Brandon Harrison, who is in his second year. He's taken a much bigger role and displayed a lot of maturity through the spring and going into the fall. It's going to be exciting to have him in the backfield. The freshmen all look great. You can see the enthusiasm they have, even though they're still getting adjusted to the college game. There are going to be some really good corners and defensive backs at Stanford in the future.
As the secondary coach and the defensive coordinator, what has A.J. Christoff's influence been on the defensive backfield?
LT: Coach Christoff is a very tough and demanding coach, and he won't settle for anything short of perfection out of assignments and technique. I know with the younger guys, it may seem like he's getting on them but I think us older players realize that those little things make a big difference on Saturday. His being the defensive coordinator and orchestrating the whole defense makes it very beneficial to the defensive backs to have him in our meeting, because we get to hear things directly from him. Having the defensive coordinator be your position coach puts very high expectations upon you in that the first place he looks is the secondary. Guys know that they're being watched and that their assignments need to be taken care of. It's a challenge, but one that is helping us develop and to be a more sound group.
CC: Entering the season, what are your goals as a team and as an individual?
LT: Initially, our goal is to win every game that we go out there for. In order to do that, you have to take it one game at a time. Our focus is on being prepared and being determined to beat each team that we line up against. I think we'll have some great results if we can do that. I know that we aren't picked very high going into the season, but I look at teams that we've had in the past that weren't picked very high yet had strong senior leadership and set themselves apart by the way they played on Saturdays. I know that we can do that as well, but we've got to be tough and fight for those things. Individually, I just want to help the team win. I want to be prepared and be a guy that people look to and see that I'm giving it my all. If someone's struggling, I want him to be able to look to me for encouragement. Post-season accolades and goals will take care of themselves just through working hard and being committed to the team.
CC: What are your thoughts as you head into the opening game against San Jose State?
LT: We have a good cross-town rivalry with San Jose State, and we're just looking to come out and unleash all the excitement and all the anticipation that we have heading into the season. We really want to make a run this year, and San Jose State is the first step towards that goal. More than anything, we want to play hard and be solid on all of our assignments. It will be good to get back into the feel of that competition that we all look forward to playing on Saturday.