Stanford Football: Spring Game and Other News
Between the Cardinal and White Spring game and other news happenings, it’s been a busy week for Stanford football. Here’s my recap:
- The Quarterback Battle is Heating Up
There are two viable candidates for starting quarterback: rising senior Ryan Burns and rising junior Keller Chryst. Many hoped that the spring game would shed some light on how the two have progressed since last year, and who might have the edge heading into the summer months. The good news is that both players look considerably better than last spring (you know, when they consistently overthrew their receivers so badly that you couldn’t actually determine who the intended target was), however it wasn’t clear who will replace Kevin Hogan come August. Burns had a better first half than Chryst, who looked largely ineffective in his first few snaps. Chryst rebounded in the second half, outperforming Burns. They finished with similar statistics and two touchdowns apiece. In the event of a tie, I imagine that Stanford will go with the younger guy, Chryst, as his development is an investment in their future. Aside from that, Chryst is physically more dominant (he may have missed some throws, but he hasn’t missed a meal this offseason), can put more zip on the ball, and seems more mobile.
- The Team is Healthy
I spent a lot of time scouring the sidelines for injuries, and found that the team is relatively healthy. Luke Kaumatule had a slight limp, Alameen Murphy and Joey Alfieri were wearing walking boots, and Harrison Phillips seemed to be walking well after tearing his ACL last season. Most importantly, there weren’t any major injuries during the game itself, though I feared for the lives of running back Bryce Love and wide receiver Jay Tyler on more than one occasion. The Stanford defense is still mean.
- Two words: Bryce Love
I was pleased with the team’s decision to sit Christian McCaffrey. I mean, everyone knows that the guy can run and that he accounted for a lot of yards last season, but he needs the rest. Above all, no one wants to see him get hurt during spring ball. Enter Bryce Love, and wow, what a game from this young man. Love averaged 4.4 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns. Bottom line: Stanford’s backfield will be deadly this year with the McCaffrey/Love combo.
- The Defense Can Still Ball
Despite the fact that the defense isn’t permitted to touch the quarterback during the game, they still managed to put enough pressure on Chryst and Burns to force them into some errant throws, and Noor Davis and Quentin Meeks each had an interception. The offense ended up “winning” the game, but the defense played really well.
- Former Players Showed Up for the Spring Game
Owen Marecic, Barry J. Sanders, Ronne Harris, Aziz Shittu, Andrus Peat, Brennan Scarlett, Kyle Murphy, Josh Garnett, and Blake Martinez all showed up to cheer on the team. Kyle Murphy won the Alumnus Play of the Game Award (which I just invented) when he celebrated a touchdown so vigorously that he exploded a bag of Doritos all over the sideline.
- David Shaw Will Come ‘Atcha
Coach Shaw has been in the news quite a lot this week. The hullabaloo started when Shaw was asked his opinion on satellite camps, which were recently banned by the NCAA. As originally reported by Rule of Tree, Shaw responded to the question by saying, “I’m great with whatever college football says, because it doesn’t affect us. It doesn’t make sense for us to go hold a camp some place where there might be one person in the entire state that’s eligible to get into Stanford.” Admittedly, that wasn’t the most humble way to answer the question, but Shaw is right, it is really hard to get into Stanford (less than 5% of applicants are admitted) and Stanford’s football recruiting is more focused than just about any other program in the country. Satellite camps simply don’t work for Stanford’s model.
Shaw’s quote was completely taken out of context by the likes of Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and Paul Finebaum, who presented it as Shaw saying that satellite camps aren’t productive in SEC country, and insinuating that players hailing from southern states aren’t smart enough to get into Stanford. This is ludicrous, of course. Shaw clarified/defended his comments quite well on the Paul Finebaum show on Tuesday. Spencer Hall from Every Day Should Be Saturday pretty much summed up the whole situation with his brilliant article called David Shaw speaks harsh truths to you personally.
- Stanford Football Players Know When to Hang Up Their Cleats
With all of the research studying the long-term health effects of football, it’s unsurprising that players are beginning to step away from the game due to the injury concerns, be it head injuries or otherwise. We’ve seen Stanford players retire before (Geoff Meinken, Josh Nunes and Jonathan Martin to name a few) and the latest addition to the list is linebacker AJ Tarpley. He will retire at the age of 23 after suffering two concussions while playing for the Buffalo Bills last season. That brings his career concussion total to four, and Tarpley has wisely decided to walk away. He’ll go out as Stanford fans remember him: holding a ball that he just intercepted, fittingly the final play of his professional career. In the wise words of Geoff Meinken: “I’m proud to say I walked away from a sport that will outlive us all. Most people don’t know when to call it quits.”