The Stanford football team finished its final spring practice last Saturday with the annual Cardinal and White spring game, held at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco for the second straight year. In a fully live game with 12-minute quarters, the Cardinal team cruised to an easy victory over the White team, 42-3.
New head coach David Shaw abandoned the format of past spring games, where two designated captains picked teams from the roster. Instead, the Cardinal team was comprised mainly of the team’s starters while the White team was made up mostly of backups. Shaw said that the reason he went with the more traditional format was to ensure that the starting units gained cohesion, as the Cardinal is replacing a number of starters this season. Playing the full starting units together also allowed the coaching staff to make further evaluations in battles for playing time that are still ongoing.
Of particular interest was the contest on the offensive line, where Stanford is replacing three starters from a standout unit.
“Those competitions are still ongoing, at center and right tackle in particular. We wanted both guys to play with [the first] unit,” Shaw said. “We’ll check the film out and see how it went.”
The game started with current redshirt sophomore Andrew Luck showing off why he will be the top candidate to win the Heisman Trophy next season. The quarterback marched the Cardinal offense down the field every time he touched the ball, scoring four touchdowns on the four possessions he played (three in the first half and the opening drive in the second). Luck has not shown any drop-off from his game last season, and the Card figures to challenge for the Pac-12 North title with him at the helm.
As he did last season, Luck spread the ball around to a variety of targets during the game, but went most often to his tight ends, especially Zach Ertz. The redshirt freshman caught three touchdown passes from Luck and indicated that he will be a strong factor for Stanford next year.
As the game wore on, Shaw rotated in numerous players, to the point where almost every member of the Cardinal got some playing time. Every quarterback on the roster saw action, led by redshirt freshmen Robbie Picazo and Josh Nunes. Picazo was the starter for the White team, while Nunes came on in relief of Luck after he was removed from the game.
The backups of the White team struggled for most of the day, scoring only once on a field goal by redshirt freshman kicker Eric Whitaker. Though Picazo had a pretty good day at quarterback, running back Ricky Seale, a freshman that redshirted last season, repeatedly gashed the Cardinal front seven and tore off for numerous big gains. Seale was a rare bright spot for a side that otherwise served as little more than a scout team for Stanford’s starters to test themselves.
The game counted as the final of 15 spring practices that the NCAA allows. Stanford will now take a few months off from formally organized team activities before returning in June for summer practice. The highly ranked 2011 recruiting class, led by linebacker James Vaughters, will join the team in June.