April 9, 2011

Quicks Reads: Spring Game

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By The Daily Axe Staff
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The Cardinal team (featuring the 1st team offense and the 1st team defense) defeated the White team (2nd team defense, 2nd team offense), 42-3, on Saturday afternoon in San Francisco. The result reflects exactly what David Shaw and the new Stanford coaching staff wanted to see from the team: efficient performances from the starters on both sides of the ball. Because the score and the statistics are largely meaningless in the spring, here are some player-development-focused Quick Reads.

  • Andrew Luck was as good as ever. The sophomore quarterback passed for 165 yards and three touchdowns, completed 63% of his passes, and passed with nearly flawless accuracy.
  • Sophomore quarterback Josh Nunes, who backed up Luck on the Cardinal team, looked like the second-best passer on the field. In strengthening his case to win the back-up quarterback position come fall, Nunes showed off his strong arm on a windy day in The City with several long throws, including a game-ending touchdown pass.
  • Tight end Zach Ertz caught 3 touchdown passes, and was Luck’s favorite target on the day. Expect Ertz, who came on late last season, to be a primary receiver in 2011.
  • Two wide receivers who have not seen much action thus far in their careers, Jamal-Rashad Patterson and Darren Daniel, were thrown to several times, and both displayed the kind of athleticism that we haven’t seen much of from the Stanford receiving corps in the last few years.
  • In the backfield, Stepfan Taylor looked solid in his 7 carries. But freshman Anthony Wilkerson continues to show that he has perhaps the best burst and home-run speed of any player on the roster. Taylor’s 7 carries netted 44 yards, while Wilkerson took 6 carries for 65 yards.
  • Freshman Ricky Seale also did a good job in the running game, and rushed for 52 yards on 7 carries. In other words, depth at running back should not be a problem for Stanford in 2011.
  • All-purpose offensive player Ryan Hewitt also looks to have gained Luck’s confidence, and was particularly strong in the beginning of the game. Hewitt caught the first pass of the contest for the Cardinal.
  • The White team’s only points came off an Eric Whitaker field goal as time expired at the end of the first quarter.
  • It’s awfully tough to judge the performance of defensive players in a game in which they must abide by restrictions limiting hitting and physicality. But sophomores Ben Gardner and Shayne Skov both looked good in the front seven for Stanford, while converted running back Usua Amanam looked good in coverage at the cornerback position.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The initial version of this Quick Reads erroneously described the constitutions of the Cardinal and White teams, claiming a 1st team/2nd team combination of offense and defense on each side. The article as it now appears is correct: the 1st team on both sides of the ball made up the Cardinal team, while the 2nd team on both sides of the ball made up the White team.]

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The Daily Axe Staff
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