Just hours after calling out Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian for suggesting that his team was faking injuries to slow down the Huskies’ offense, Stanford head football coach David Shaw spoke to the media once again, following the conclusion of Tuesday’s practice.
Unlike in the press conference earlier in the day, where he began with an impromptu opening statement addressing Sarkisian’s allegations, Shaw chose to look ahead to Saturday’s game against Utah, touching on key injury situations as well as his plan for keeping the Cardinal mentally and physically fresh through the long grind of Pac-12 play.
Shaw first provided an update on the status of team captains and fifth-year seniors, defensive end Ben Gardner and inside linebacker Shayne Skov, whose arm and knee injuries, respectively, in last week’s game sparked Sarkisian’s now infamous claims.
“[Gardner was] better today,” Shaw said. “We rotated him in and out a bit. He didn’t practice the whole practice, but it’s feeling better. Shayne [Skov] was good today. We took some reps off of him and thankfully [sophomore inside linebacker] Blake Martinez was able to come up and take some reps.”
A more pressing injury concern for the Cardinal heading into its showdown on the road against the Utes is the status of senior defensive tackle David Parry. According to Shaw, Parry is currently dealing with a lower abdominal injury and was unable to participate completely in practice. With sophomore defensive tackle Ikenna Nwafor still out for several weeks, Stanford may have to dig deep into the depth chart if Parry is unable to play on Saturday.
In other injury-related news, senior defensive end Henry Anderson is now off crutches as he continues to recover from a leg injury suffered against Army. Anderson is not expected to return for another three to four weeks.
In addition, Shaw also addressed fifth-year senior fullback Ryan Hewitt’s lack of production so far this season. In the final five games of last season, when Kevin Hogan took over as the starting quarterback, Hewitt’s numbers skyrocketed with 11 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown. In the first five games of 2013, however, Hewitt has only two receptions for three yards. Shaw pinpointed this drop in production to improved defensive schemes, but nevertheless expressed confidence that Hewitt will emerge at some point this season.
“He’s one of those guys who we try to game-plan for. And sometimes the plays get called and sometimes they don’t and sometimes the plays get called and he’s covered,” Shaw said. “I thought when we called a quick play-action pass down in the red zone, I thought for sure he was going to sneak out in the flat and get a touchdown, but Washington did a great job covering him. Hopefully, we’ll get him going at some point during the season.”
Saturday’s game in Salt Lake City takes on an additional level of significance for sophomore quarterback Dallas Lloyd, a native of Pleasant Grove, Utah, and a lifelong Utes fan.
“BYU, Utah, and Utah State football were everything to us…I always dreamed of playing in [Utah’s] Rice-Eccles [Stadium] in front of all those fans and the crazy atmosphere, but growing up I didn’t think I’d be playing for Stanford,” Lloyd said. “This has been a fun week so far. There’s a little extra passion in my heart.”
Now Lloyd, who runs the same “change-of-pace” package that Hogan operated at the beginning of last season, will get an opportunity to live out his childhood dream, but wearing a slightly different shade of red — Cardinal, not Crimson — when Stanford visits Utah Saturday at 3 p.m.
Contact Vihan Lakshman at vihan ‘at’ stanford.edu.