A conversation with Christian McCaffrey and Austin Hooper

Nov. 18, 2014, 11:28 p.m.

At the end of Tuesday’s practice, The Stanford Daily’s Nicholas Radoff spoke with freshman running back Christian McCaffrey and sophomore tight end Austin Hooper about Saturday’s Big Game.


The Stanford Daily (TSD): Both your parents were athletes here, so do you have any expectations or memories of the Big Game?

Austin Hooper (center)
Sophomore tight end Austin Hooper (center) has had a strong opening campaign to his collegiate career, as he is currently second on the team in receptions with 29 catches. Hooper also has 2 receiving TD’s. (KEVIN HSU/The Stanford Daily)

Christian McCaffrey (CM): It’s very clear here there is a reason it’s called the Big Game; there’s a lot of hype around it, but right now I think our guys are just focused on what we can do in practice to prepare and be as confident as we can going in.

TSD: Are you excited to play in your first Big Game?

CM: Very excited. Excited is definitely an understatement. I think we all are pretty excited; it means a lot.

TSD: Huge play in the first quarter against Utah on the misdirection pitch out; can you run us through the play real quick?

CM: It was fourth-and-1. In recent games, we lined two backs up in the backfield, with a lead blocker right behind the lineman and kind of ran a little boom play. We tried to just disguise that, so that we could toss it out to me and use my speed and allow me to do as much as I can with it.

TSD: Coach Shaw talked about you getting a better handle on the offense each week and using you more as you do. Do you feel like you can be fully integrated at this point?

CM: Definitely. The older guys and the coaches have done a great job of getting me integrated. They do such a good job of helping me out whenever I have questions. At this point, I think we’re all dialed in.

TSD: Is it tough to get ahold of the playbook from both a receiver perspective and a running back perspective?

CM: It’s difficult at first, but once you kind of get a hold of it, it’s muscle memory.


TSD: You had a big fumble recovery in the fourth quarter (9:48) to keep the drive alive; can you take us through the play real quick?

Austin Hooper (AH): Luckily, when the ball was ripped out, by some miracle, it just rolled to me; I reached out and grabbed it as it rolled out from the center of the pile. Just tried to show the refs that I had it. It was a really lucky bounce. I saw it and I was just glad I could put a grip on it, cover it up for the team.

TSD: So you are from the East Bay. Do you have any history with the Big Game, or have you ever been to it before coming to Stanford?

AH: I’ve never physically been to the Big Game, but I have family from both schools, so around this time, it’s a lot fun. I have half the family going for Cal and half going for Stanford, but all of them will be rooting for their family member, [even if it’s not] for Stanford. It’s going to be a lot of fun, a lot of family pulling for both schools. It’s going to be a good time, a good homecoming.

TSD: Are you excited about this group of tight ends that has come together with so much talent on this team?

AH: I’m really excited about Greg Taboada, Eric Cotton and even though he’s young, Dalton Schultz; he’s been a great contributor. Charlie Hopkins has been a great mentor and teacher for all of us younger guys. Individually, this position group can do a lot of different things, and collectively, it adds up to a lot. I’m really excited about where we’re headed in the future.

TSD: How has Dalton Schultz been performing?

AH: With him being redshirted, all we can see is him in practice, but he’s been doing really well. He’s picked up the playbook really quick, actually a lot faster than I did in my go around, so he’s definitely doing a lot of good things. He’s just gotta keep it up.

TSD: You were recruited as both a tight end and a defensive end coming out of high school. Any chance we’ll see you take some defensive reps?

AH: Coach Anderson jokingly mentioned it to me that I could play a bit of outside linebacker, but other than that one instance, it’s been pretty much all offense.

Contact Nicholas Radoff at nradoff ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Nic Radoff '15 is now officially from Oakland and is a proud to be a history major and a Latin-American studies minor. Nic was a staff writer for women's soccer and follows football extensively, whether his editors let him write about it or not. He is a proud member of the men's club lacrosse team and invites you all to come watch most Saturdays, even though you might not see him on the field much. He enjoys spending time with his family, hiking with his husky Artoo, lamenting his A's and maintaining that things get better with age.

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