Starting quarterback Tanner McKee is questionable for Friday night’s game against Utah, head coach David Shaw said in a press conference Tuesday.
Shaw did not disclose the reason for McKee’s status — he hasn’t for most players’ unavailability this season —and said that the team would determine in the next day or so if McKee could play on Friday. When asked, Shaw said he wasn’t sure if the issue would continue to affect McKee’s availability in the coming weeks as well.
If McKee is out, Stanford’s uphill battle for bowl eligibility becomes even steeper. The Cardinal enter their second short week of the season looking to snap a three-game losing streak. Stanford would need three more wins to secure a postseason berth.
McKee struggled in losses to Washington and Arizona State, but the sophomore is still the most important piece of an offense that has only been able to move the ball through the air.
No Cardinal quarterback on the roster besides McKee has thrown a career passing touchdown.
Behind McKee, Stanford can turn to backups senior Jack West and sixth-year Isaiah Sanders. Intriguingly, Shaw said both signal callers will play if McKee is out. Sanders has been effective as a rusher in a short-yardage package, but it’s unclear if the staff has prepared him to take on an expanded role and operate Stanford’s full offense. West has three career starts, all losses, and lost the starting battle to McKee after throwing two interceptions against Kansas State in the season opener.
“I think we’ve got a plan for the things that both those guys can do well,” Shaw said. “As coaches, we just prepare for every eventuality and get the team ready to play a game.”
Wide receivers junior Elijah Higgins and sophomore John Humphreys — Stanford’s two remaining starters at wideout — are also questionable, Shaw said on Tuesday. Sophomore running back Casey Filkins and sophomore tight end Lukas Ungar are out.
The news also puts a dampener on the return of senior wide receiver Michael Wilson and the probable return of cornerbacks senior Ethan Bonner and junior Salim Turner-Muhammad, starters who have missed all or most of the season.