Stanford football coach David Shaw took the stage at Pac-12 Media Days on Thursday, along with running back Bryce Love and and defensive tackle Harrison Phillips. Much was discussed during their time with the media in Hollywood, Calif., but we’ve parsed down the most important info.
Here are the five biggest takeaways for the Cardinal:
Keller Chryst is QB1 if he’s healthy
Shaw: “The big thing for us quarterback-wise is Keller Chryst really stabilized this last year. Played extremely well, 50 points against Oregon, 40 points against Rice. Undefeated as a starter. Ten touchdowns, I believe two interceptions. Really, really just kind of started to come into his own until he got hurt in the bowl game.
“So for me, when he’s healthy, he’s our guy. Hopefully he’s healthy Game 1. If he’s not, Ryan Burns started for us last year. Ryan Burns is a better quarterback than he was a year ago. He’s really worked hard in the off-season. Had a really good spring training session and is really going to come into this year ready to go. K.J. Costello, he’s got all the tools. He learned a lot this past offseason. He had a really good spring ball. So if Keller can’t go, we’ve got two great options. And it may be one, may be the other, may be some combination of both. Biggest thing for me, though, is for Keller to get ready, and hopefully he’ll be ready Week 1.”
Expect some breakout performers on defense
Phillips: “There’s two who are making tremendous strides, and that’s Bobby Okereke, who had a fantastic season last year, but because of the rotations seemed to be overlooked. Another guy who was out, had a fantastic redshirt freshman year, but was missed last year due to injury is Alijah Holder. He has dominated the rehab process. He’s gonna be a part of and a very big focus of that defensive secondary. Some of the other names you know, but Alijah is being overlooked quite a bit.”
Different takes on 10-3 record in 2016
Shaw: “We won 10 games last year and felt like a disappointment, felt like a down year to a certain degree. But we’re proud of the fact that we’ve won as many games as we’ve won over the last few years. Ten games last year, in particular. But at the same time, I think we can play better.”
Phillips: “I understand from his aspect because of the culture he’s built here how it could be a disappointment. But we learned so much in that final stretch of six wins that we can be a dominant force. We can dominate teams. Keller Chryst has never lost a game starting for us. We were Sun Bowl champions and beat a pretty good [North Carolina] outfit.”
Bryce Love isn’t concerned with individual stats
Love: “That’s one of the biggest things that Coach G [running backs coach Ron Gould] has stressed on me. Two years ago, my freshman year, I came in and wanted to do all these different things and have all these different numbers, touchdowns. Just sitting down with Christian [McCaffrey], obviously he had all the numbers in the world that you could have, but you know the big thing is I’m just willing to do whatever it takes for the team to succeed. Numerically, it doesn’t really matter. I just wanna be successful as a team.”
The secondary may be the strength of the team
Shaw: “It’s a combination of a few things, honestly. I have to mention Duane Akina, who is our defensive back coach, who is widely regarded as the best in the nation at what he does. He’s outstanding and phenomenal. He’s attracted a lot of the guys that have come because of his ability to get the most out of the guys that he’s coached.
“At the same time, we’ve been able to recruit long, athletic, explosive guys. And I’ve got to get a little credit to Richard Sherman, too. Richard being one of those guys that when you talk to him, he’s loud, he’s crazy, he’s brilliant. He’s been like, yes, this is a Stanford guy. This is a guy who is very opinionated but very smart and has reasons for everything he says and does. But he’s also long, explosive, and athletic. He’s been kind of one of those beacons, like, ‘You know what? I want to go to school where that guy went to school and have a career like him.’ “