Stanford football’s quest to capture a national championship began in earnest on Monday afternoon, as the Cardinal players and coaches took to the field for the first fall practice of the 2013 season.
How did it go?
“I thought it was okay,” said head coach David Shaw. “It was a good start, but we have a lot to work on, obviously.”
The team practiced without pads, in part to allow the players to acclimate themselves to being back on the field. Still, the excitement was evident.
“Amazing,” said sophomore quarterback Dallas Lloyd, who was redshirted last season. “It feels good because all the hard work we put in this offseason reminds us that it was for a reason — it’s for right now. It feels great. We were a little bit sloppy today, but it feels great to be out there with my teammates, with the guys I love and the guys who I’ve worked hard with in the past eight months.”
After a grueling offseason consisting of winter conditioning, spring ball, spring workouts and summer conditioning, the players received a short respite — less than two weeks — prior to the start of training camp. Much of their training time between January and August was spent with sports performance coordinator Shannon Turley, who is entering his seventh season on The Farm and has been widely credited for the program’s drastic turnaround since 2007.
Shaw appeared to be pleased with his team’s fitness level — for the most part.
“I would say for 90 percent of our team, [I’m] absolutely [happy],” Shaw said. “To see Henry Anderson at 295 pounds, heavy as he’s ever been, still be able to run around and be in conditioning and handle practice like this where the guys are getting a lot of reps — more split practice where the guys are running around — it’s great to see our big guys. They were sweating, but they were moving. I think Turley did a phenomenal job.”
The other 10 percent of the players — those who failed the conditioning test — were not allowed to practice, and will continue to be sidelined until they pass the test.
“We’ve had a standard practice around here: You don’t pass the conditioning test, you don’t practice,” Shaw said. “There’s no punishment, nothing else; just if you can’t pass the conditioning test, you’re not in shape to be on this football team.”
When asked if any players stood out on the first day, Shaw noted that fifth-year senior linebacker Shayne Skov was back to his full speed, and that the defense as a whole moved around well.
Over the course of the next three weeks, there will be fierce competition among some of the players as they vie for starting spots. One of those battles is at center, where seniors Conor McFadden and Khalil Wilkes are the favorites to replace Sam Schwartzstein. According to Shaw, the evaluation process to determine who will start at that position has already begun.
Due to its opening bye week, the Cardinal started training camp later than most college teams across the nation. Stanford was recently ranked No. 4 in both the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and ESPN’s Power Rankings. The Associated Press Poll will be released this Saturday.
Contact George Chen at gchen15 “at” stanford.edu.
Stay tuned for The Daily’s 10-part season preview series, which begins on Tuesday with a look at the offensive line.
Can’t wait for the start of the 2013 season? Relive the last seven years of Stanford football with “Rags to Roses,” available in the Amazon Kindle store now! Stanford Daily football beat writers Joseph Beyda, George Chen and Sam Fisher interviewed 30 current and former players and coaches to bring you the story of the Cardinal’s resurgence from 2006 to 2012. You can also check out the free excerpts here.