The wide receiving corps and sophomore left tackle Andrus Peat starred again as Stanford football finished off its first session of spring practice with a scrimmage-style open practice Saturday afternoon.
Junior Ty Montgomery is likely to lead the charge at receiver in the fall, but the wildcard, junior Kelsey Young, came up with the big play of the day on a route Stanford fans aren’t used to seeing from the speedster.
Junior Kevin Hogan hit Young on a 46-yard bomb that looked like the backyard “just go deep” route. It was a welcome sight for those in attendance, as the main criticism of Hogan’s performance last season was his inaccuracy on those deep passes.
But looking back at the first session of spring practice, the biggest difference seems to be a much-improved offensive line.
All the way through last year’s Cardinal & White Spring Game, Stanford’s veteran defense dominated the offense up front. Its quarterbacks, and running backs, didn’t even have a chance.
This spring has been a different story, and a lot of that is due to the emergence of Peat at left tackle and the corresponding move by senior David Yankey back to left guard.
Peat has drawn praise from his coaches throughout the spring. Though he gave up a sack to junior Kevin Anderson on Saturday, Peat has been, in head coach David Shaw’s words, “phenomenal.” Mike Bloomgren, who coached the offensive line until receiving a promotion to offensive coordinator this season, said that Peat “has come miles” since entering Stanford’s training camp last August.
But it’s not just the coaching staff that has taken notice of Peat’s play. His teammates on the offensive line — including Yankey, the senior anchor of the line — have been impressed as well.
“We always knew he had the physical tools,” Yankey said of Peat. “Even as a true freshman he did some special things physically and didn’t completely grasp the playbook. But he’s just come such a long way. He’s really matured as a player and he’s got the playbook down mentally and he has the drive, the will — you see his frustration after bad reps — and he’s gotten better every day.”
One of the biggest keys to Peat’s emergence in his second season has been his mastery of a deadly, open-handed punch. Peat learned the move from his father, Todd, who played six seasons in the NFL, and has used it very effectively throughout the spring.
Peat has also shown some agility in addition to his power. Fifth-year senior nickelback Usua Amanam, who is one of the fastest players on the team, tried an outside speed rush again Peat on Saturday. The 6-foot-7 Peat kept up with him without a problem, pushing Amanam harmlessly behind junior quarterback Kevin Hogan.
“He’s quick,” Peat said of Amanam. “I made sure I got out of my stance quick and just [get] ready for him. He’s a small guy, you’ve gotta bend down really far to block him.”
One other interesting tidbit to take from Saturday’s scrimmage was the play of sophomore quarterback Dallas Lloyd. Shaw used Lloyd in an option package, similar to how he used Hogan for the early part of the 2012 season, and Lloyd was impressive.
Lloyd operated the triple-option very smoothly from the shotgun. Then he showed great footwork rolling out across his body to the left out of a great play-action fake before eventually taking off for a big gain.
“He’s a great athlete,” Shaw said. “If that ends up translating to the games, we’ll see. But it’s nice to have another running quarterback in the mix that can also throw. So we had some fun.
“The thing is, our quarterbacks aren’t live in these periods, but that drives him crazy. He wants to be live. He wants to be tackled. He wants to be hit and run through guys. We made him live at the end and he did a good job.”
Stanford now enters a three-week break for finals and Spring Break. The Cardinal returns to action on April 1 for a second and final two-week practice period that will see the return of fifth-year senior linebacker Shayne Skov and senior running back Tyler Gaffney. The session finishes with the Cardinal & White Spring Game at Stanford Stadium at 3 p.m. on April 13.
Contact Sam Fisher at safisher “at” stanford.edu.