Despite missing starting quarterback Keller Chryst and running back Bryce Love to rehabilitation, the annual spring football game featured a display of young talent for the Cardinal (offense) on the running game. The game ended with the offense driving a 37-30 victory over the White (defense), while senior QB Ryan Burns strengthened his case for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart with 10-15, including a 38-yard seam TD pass to sophomore Donald Stewart.
The Cardinal started slow in the game that awarded points to defensive stops, forced turnovers, and scoring plays. The White took an 18-3 advantage due to a sputtering offensive start and stellar play from a number of different Stanford defenders.
The White particularly displayed their depth at the offensive linebacker position, showcasing the development of freshman Curtis Robinson and consistent production from Mike Tyler and Casey Toohill. The plethora of talent in the position allowed coaches the flexibility to move senior OLB Joey Alfieri to an inside linebacker role.
Shaw commented on Alfieri’s potential in the inside postgame to reporters, “He’s really put himself into the mix on the inside. He’s got some natural instincts in there and it’s exciting to have somebody who is that explosive and athletic. The good thing for us is we have a good group on both sides. He may be able to play a little bit of both.”
Offensively, the Cardinal sputtered in the start yet showed a strong capability to replace the missing presence of former Cardinal Christian McCaffrey who entered the NFL draft this past offseason. A trio of young RBs Cameron Scarlett, Dorian Maddox and Trevor Speights all scored in the course of the game, powering the Cardinal offense to a comeback victory.
Scarlett dashed to a 55-yard touchdown run to score the first TD and regenerate the sluggish Stanford offense to that point. Maddox then added another touchdown from yet another large run when he ran through a wide gap in the line to scamper on a 58-yard run, bringing the Cardinal within 1 at 18-17.
“Our running backs got us going,” Shaw remarked about his team’s performance on the ground, “I’m excited about all three of those guys. When we get Bryce Love back, I think it’s a phenomenal group.”
Maddox unfortunately ended the night when he limped off the field from an apparent left knee injury on the second play of the second half, yet Shaw remained confident when discussing the injury postgame. “He got banged up a little bit. We’ll see, but it’s not as bad as it could have been.”
The Cardinal started with sophomore K. J. Costello at quarterback for the first three series yet the young QB was unable to find rhythm throughout the match, only completing 5 of 13 passes on the night.
Despite the shaky start, Shaw saw key strides in the sophomore’s play as of late, telling reporters that “K.J. has made a big jump in the last two weeks.”
However, the Cardinal evidently received a boost when the Cardinal switched Costello for a more experienced fifth-year senior Ryan Burns, who provided a “calming presence” for the Stanford offense said Shaw.
Burns threw the only touchdown pass of the affair, connecting with wide receiver Donald Stewart who then muscled his way past the goal line for a 38-yard scoring pass. The play actually required a replay review — unusual for the spring game — after Stewart was originally marked short of the pylon.
Burns thanked a lot of the struggles last year for his progression this year, telling reporters, “It helps us knowing what we did wrong and knowing exactly how to fix that. There were a lot of times where I just did not give guys chances last year. I just need to put the ball where they can grab it and put more on them.”
“[Burns] made some throws to our tight ends, played with poise and had a calming presence.” said Shaw of the fifth-year senior.
In other news, Stanford freshman kicker Jet Toner showed his capabilities to replace departing Conrad Ukropina. Toner drilled 42, 40 and 47-yard field goals for the Cardinal, the last being a buzzer-beating boom of a kick.
The Cardinal ended the night with a 37-30 victory yet most importantly displayed the potential talent to be displayed in the fall.
Contact Lorenzo Rosas at enzor9 ‘at’ stanford.edu