David Shaw and several Cardinal players participated in their usual press conference Tuesday at lunch, responding to a variety of questions including some about players’ health and even Andrew Luck.
The biggest news revealed on the day — it actually came after practice later Tuesday — was that senior guard David Yankey will be missing the upcoming game against Washington State and will be replaced by sophomore Joshua Garnett on the offensive line.
“David Yankey will not play this week,” Shaw said. “He has a family situation he has to take care of. He’s in our thoughts and prayers … We hope to get him back soon.”
Yankey will be with his family for the upcoming week, and an exact return date has not been set. Shaw and the team hope to have him back before the Cardinal hosts Washington in Stanford Stadium on Oct. 5.
In other news, senior cornerback Barry Browning, who missed last Saturday’s game against Arizona State due to multiple injuries, is questionable for this Saturday’s game.
“He will practice today,” said head coach David Shaw. “He’s feeling better. His body’s working again. We will see how he feels.”
Browning’s status remains of the utmost importance for the Cardinal due to senior safety Ed Reynolds’ first-half suspension for Saturday’s game. Reynolds was flagged for a targeting penalty in the fourth quarter as his hit on Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly was deemed by officials to be too high. A targeting penalty in the second half of a game results in an ejection from the current game and a suspension for the first half of the next game.
With Reynolds out, senior reserve defensive back Devon Carrington will take over the starting free safety spot for the entire first half. This could potentially leave Stanford down two cornerbacks, as Carrington also is a second-string cornerback, if Browning is unable to play.
“Who knows how many passes they will throw in the first half,” Shaw responded when discussing the impact of the potential losses. Washington State’s offense currently ranks 16th in the nation in passing yards per game and has posted back-to-back games of 40 or more points.
Shaw anticipates an even louder environment this time around as Stanford visits CenturyLink Field in Seattle, due to the number of alumni in the city who only get to see that one game per year. Last year, Stanford fell to Washington 17-13 at CenturyLink Field, making it no stranger to the difficulty of playing there. In fact, CenturyLink Field recently set the world record for crowd-noise in a stadium when the Seahawks hosted the 49ers.
“We have to be cautious,” Shaw said. “The noise is a factor.”
In addition, Shaw believes that Washington State’s defense is severely underestimated. The team ranks 13th nationally in points allowed per game (12), including a shutout in their last game at home against Idaho.
“The one thing no one talks about — ever — when you’re talking about Mike Leach is the defense,” Shaw said in reference to Washington State’s head coach Mike Leach. Leach is entering his second year as head coach and brings a high-powered spread offense attack with him from his days at Texas Tech. Leach’s defenses are rarely talked about due to the prowess of his offensive units, but, this year especially, the defense is earning notice.
When asked about Andrew Luck’s bootleg run to score a 6-yard touchdown for the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday to essentially close out the game against the 49ers, Shaw said that it was exactly the same play run by Kevin Hogan just a day earlier to ice the Sun Devils.
“It was the same exact play — I texted [Colts offensive coordinator] Pep [Hamilton] this morning,” Shaw detailed. “We go through the same thought process, which was running the ball, getting four or five yards a clip. And then from the box you see it, they’re crashing on the back side.”
Fifth-year senior defensive end Ben Gardner also spoke at the press conference and complimented many of the young players.
“[Sophomore defensive end] Aziz Shittu is the next guy in line,” Gardner shared. “He’s got to play meaningful reps for us. He’s a guy who’s shown everything that we need him to show at practice.”
Stanford takes on Washington State at 7 p.m. Saturday in Seattle on ESPN.
Contact Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.