April 16, 2009

Spring Recap: Who stood out?

Stanford has completed the 2009 Spring drills. And we take a quick look back on what stood out.

Offense

  • Andrew Luck -
    The redshirt freshman flashed his start ability in the Cardinal and White game, taking advantage of a depleted secondary for 350 yards. But don't let the injuries in the backfield damped the enthusiasm you may have for Luck. He is the real deal and enjoyed an excellent spring by all accounts.

    Luck posses a rare arm, able to throw frozen ropes to receivers 30 yards down field and has displayed deft touch on fade and passes to the back.

    Harbaugh declared after the spring game that if Stanford played tomorrow, Luck would get the start over senior Tavita Pritchard. And I don't think it is even close at this point

  • Chris Owusu -
    Owusu is healthy and gives Stanford the type of offensive threat other teams will have to scheme for. He also had a productive spring. The offensive staff was not afraid to move Owusu around is different slots, sets and formations - all with the goal of getting him the ball.

  • David DeCastro -
    The redshirt freshman was penciled in the starting lineup at right guard and did nothing to disappoint. He missed one practice due to a ankle injury but returned the next practice proving his durability and toughness.

  • A few others that stood out on offense: Ryan Whalen (continues to catch everything in sight), Matt Kopa (showed versatility by lining up at right tackle and left tackle), Coby Fleener ( a big, athletic target that enjoyed a great spring)

    Defense
  • Tom Keiser, Chase Thomas, Erik Lorig, Tom McAndrew -
    The two-deep at defensive end is as strong, if not stronger, than any unit on the Cardinal team. All four showed quickness and strenght during the spring. With the ability to make plays. With the tandem of Ekom Udofia, who had a great spring game and Sione Fua, who emerged this spring, the Stanford front will be very solid in 2009

  • Michael Thomas -
    The converted running back went full-time to defense after spending 2008 as a freshman nickel back. Thomas is a player that seems to improve with every practice and every rep. He will b counted on next year to hold down a corner spot and this spring Thomas showed he is up to that challenge.

  • Austin Yancy -
    After missing all of 2008 with a hamstring injury Yancy was scheduled to miss all of session I as well, but an injury to Delano Howell in the last scrimmage of the first session gave Yancy an opportunity. He performed well and prove to be an athletic, physical presence in the secondary, something the Cardinal lacked in 2008

  • A few others that stood out on defense: Clinton Snyder (healthy or hobbled, always makes plays), Corey Gatewood (thrust himself in the mix at cornerback), Richard Sherman (converted wide receiver improved every practice, and finished with a stand-out spring game).

    Random thoughts

  • Giving Howell an incomplete for the spring. Sadly he got injured just as he was beginning to react instead of think in the secondary. Howell will be a great safety according to coach Harbaugh and he was showing those signs.

  • From all signs the loss of Chris Dalman has been managed well with the addition of Greg Roman and with Tom Drevno moving to interior line coach. The team is using the same zone-blocking system that Dalman installed and the players like the two coach system.

  • Coach Jim Harbaugh is on track to take Stanford back to an elite Pac-10 program and with time and resources he will certainly get there. But the decision to hold the Cardinal and White Spring game on a Monday night was a bad decision. The crowd of less than 2,000 saw Luck put on a display. But it is hard not to think a Saturday afternoon crowd would not have been bigger and the Cardinal buzz greater.

    Harbaugh said the game fell on a Monday because of the NCAA calendar that dictates when, how many, and in what time frame a team must schedule it's 15 allotted practices.

    And while I understand that NCAA dictated reason, why could Stanford not hold a Spring game on Saturday and come back with a practice on Monday. The team worked out Saturday in a relatively light workout, why not just reverse those practices?

    Why not have a fan, family friendly outing on a sun-splashed Saturday afternoon in Stanford Stadium? Hold an autograph session immediately after the game. Have Harbaugh address the crowd. Use the impressive digital replay screen for some fun, light in-game interviews, have some competitions at halftime. Have a 40-yard dash among the coaches. Have a best blue-collar costume contest.

    Getting fans back into the stands will come with winning, that's the world we live in. And Harbaugh will get this program winning, there is no doubt. But until then Stanford needs to use a little more marketing moxie to generate some interest.

    We will have more post-spring coverage coming in the next week. Stay tuned.


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