Stanford football was ranked No. 4 in the preseason Associated Press (AP) Poll released Saturday morning, marking the 48th consecutive week that the Cardinal has been ranked in the AP Poll. During this stretch, Stanford was in the top ten for a total of 30 weeks. The AP top-five preseason ranking comes on the heels of the Cardinal being ranked No. 4 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, No. 4 in ESPN’S Power Rankings and No. 2 by Sports Illustrated.
As usual, head coach David Shaw deflected the hype.
“We haven’t changed one bit,” Shaw said after the team’s Saturday practice. “It can’t ever affect our preparation, it can’t affect how we play on game day and it can’t affect our approach to how we play the game. We’re not going to play harder or less hard because people say we’re going to be good or people say we’re going to be terrible.”
“While it’s nice to have a favorable ranking, that’s something the media and fans pay attention to much more than us,” added fifth-year senior outside linebacker Trent Murphy. “We control our own destiny.”
Fittingly enough, the Cardinal players were on the practice field for the first day of full tackling under scrimmage conditions as the AP poll was announced. As today’s practice showed, not much has changed in the battle between the offense and defense since spring ball.
“As usual, when you’re this early [in practice], the defense is ahead, which is great,” Shaw said. “It’s just nice to see guys flying around and attacking the ball…making tackles. We still popped a couple of runs but for the most part the defense had the edge today.”
With the first week of fall practices nearly over, Shaw noted two players — fifth-year inside linebacker Shayne Skov and senior nose tackle David Parry — who have especially impressed, pointing out that both defensive players have been difficult to block.
Meanwhile, the competition at key positions, including center, outside linebacker and cornerback, is still ongoing.
“[It’s been] even,” said Shaw, when asked about the center competition. “I would love for there to be some movement there. We’re going to keep rotating guys through, and I’d imagine it will be another week before we have a clear-cut leader. They’re all doing well; we just need someone to do great.”
The clock is ticking for the players who are fighting for a starting role, as the season opener against San Jose State is just three weeks away. For older veterans, it’s about staying both hungry and meticulous throughout camp.
“We’ll never be truly satisfied with how we play,” said fifth-year senior inside linebacker A.J. Tarpley. “We always want to have perfect practices — that’s our goal — and strive for perfection, but we have seen some good things and things we need to work on. It’s a good start, and we need to keep on playing fast.”
Contact George Chen at gchen15 “at” stanford.edu.