When he was introduced as Stanford’s new Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football in 2011, David Shaw repeatedly referred to his new role as his “dream job” and added that he hoped he would never have to interview for a coaching position again.
Three seasons, 34 wins and consecutive Pac-12 Championships later, Shaw remains as steady and unwavering in his future plans as he did the day he took over the Stanford program from Jim Harbaugh. Despite rumored inquiries from a number of teams, including the Houston Texans of the NFL and the Texas Longhorns from the college ranks, Shaw announced that he will remain at the Farm, rejecting potential suitors for the second straight season.
Following the announcement, Shaw deflected praise away from himself, stating that the popularity of his name in coaching searches stems directly from the overall success of the Stanford football program.
“[The attention is] very flattering,” Shaw said. “It says a lot about our guys. It says a lot about what we do here — the fact that we have success, the fact that we’re constantly putting guys, especially in the last few years, into the NFL … Last year, I’ll be honest, it kind of bothered me a little bit. This year it doesn’t bother me — it’s just a testament to being a really good college football program.”
While Shaw’s name burst across headlines around the country, this week saw a return to business-as-usual on the practice field as the Cardinal begins serious preparations for its clash with Michigan State in the 100th Rose Bowl Game.
Following Stanford’s monumental win at Arizona State in the Pac-12 Championship game, Shaw gave his players the entire week off to rest and study for final exams. After a couple light practices over the weekend, the Cardinal has hit the ground running with grueling, full-speed practices this week as it prepares for an opponent that no one in the locker room is taking lightly.
“They’re extremely well-coached … They were very close to being undefeated. A couple plays here or there … and you’re talking about a team that could be playing for the national championship,” Shaw said. “That’s how much respect we’re giving these guys. They came to play every single week. They made the plays to win football games … They’re as stout as any defense we’ve seen all year.”
Although this week’s bowl preparations are undoubtedly about getting ready to take on the Spartans, the additional practice time also provides an opportunity for younger players, particularly the freshmen, to keep honing their skills. Two true freshmen who have especially caught Shaw’s eye this week are outside linebacker Peter Kalambayi and inside linebacker Kevin Palma. With fifth-year senior linebackers Trent Murphy, Shayne Skov and Jarek Lancaster set to move on after this season, Shaw sees the development of his young linebackers as an encouraging sign for the future of the Stanford defense.
Sophomore running back Barry Sanders has been another underclassman impressing in practice. Sanders has particularly shined during the post-practice scrimmages between the younger players and Shaw anticipates the shifty running back to see at least “10 to 15” carries per game next season as the Card will look to replace senior running backs Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson.
Perhaps the most interesting development out of bowl practice has been the report from Stanford Rivals that sophomore quarterback Dallas Lloyd is taking snaps at safety. Lloyd has seen the field on several occasions this season, running a special read-option “change-of-pace” package.” Following his fumble against Oregon State, however, Lloyd has seen his playing time diminish as starting quarterback Kevin Hogan has resumed control of the read-option plays.
If Lloyd’s move to defense is permanent, it would not be an unprecedented path. Former Stanford safety and current Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist John Lynch ’93 made the same switch from quarterback to safety prior to his junior year (a move he discussed in an interview with The Daily two months ago). Stanford may also have a lack of depth at safety in 2014, as senior Devon Carrington is currently in his final year of eligibility and fellow senior Ed Reynolds is expected to at least consider heading into the NFL Draft.
Contact Vihan Lakshman at vihan ‘at’ Stanford.edu.