The Pac-12 held their annual media day in Los Angeles this past week. Each program sent the head coach along with a defensive and offensive player representative. David Shaw, running back Stepfan Taylor, and linebacker Chase Thomas sat down as the ambassadors for Stanford. All three fielded questions about the upcoming season only a month away.
Here is the video of their interview:
1) Shayne Skov will be ready to play week two Not that Stanford is lacking talent in the linebacker position, but Skov is a special player and one of the best in the nation. Skov suffered a knee injury last season but should be ready to rock and roll by the time Duke makes the trip to play the Cardinal September 8. Shaw said that Skov has been cleared to play.
2) Luck no more Stanford will enter 2012 without the services of arguably their best quarterback ever, or at least since John Elway suited up. Andrew Luck will be a Colt this season meaning other players must step up to fill the leadership void. Taylor was asked if he felt there was any extra pressure on himself as the top returning offensive threat. The senior does not foresee any extra pressure on himself other than the usual upperclassman expectation to play well and win every week.
3) What’s the story? Coach Shaw was asked about the story lines for 2012 and he had no problem coming up several examples. I’ll let the coach do the talking,
“We have the most underrated running back in the nation to my left with back-to-back 1,000-yard years and this is going to be a third straight. I think we have a great front seven as good as college football has had year. Derek Mason [Associate Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator] has done a phenomenal job and will continue to do that side. And losing the most explosive tight end in football but bringing back the best combination, maybe in college football, is exciting as well.”
While Shaw was ready to bring up any number of possible headlines for 2012, the elephant in the room is the absence of Luck. In the three seasons before Luck arrived, the Cardinal had a combined 10 wins. The past three seasons with Luck under center the Cardinal averaged 10 wins.
4) Just be yourself In a perfect scenario the Cardinal would have an obvious choice to insert at quarterback with Luck’s departure. That isn’t the case, as Brett Nottingham and Josh Nunes are still battling for the starting gig. Coach Shaw isn’t looking for another Luck, but rather a quarterback that plays within himself and protects the football.
Stanford went on a streak of 17 consecutive seasons without a double digit win total before Luck’s final two years as a Cardinal. Traditionally Stanford does not compete for Pac12 championships, but clearly there is momentum brewing in the Bay Area. There is enough talent on defense and in the running game to help out the new quarterback (whoever it is). If the Cardinal is to make 2012 truly special, than it will need more than a game manager behind center.