Stanford football head coach David Shaw’s first remarks following Tuesday’s practice reiterated his comments earlier in the day when he expressed his admiration for Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who wears the No. 7 for the Beavers.
“Practice was good today,” Shaw said. “The defense was flying around trying to recognize where No. 7 is.”
Specifically, Shaw noted that the Cardinal spent a lot of time in practice decision simulating the unique matchup problems that Cooks, a 5-foot-10, 186-pound speedster with 1,176 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season, creates.
To prepare for the up-tempo and athletic Oregon State offense, which leads the nation in passing yards, Shaw and his coaching staff decided to designate multiple players on the scout team as No. 7, rotating players rapidly to keep the Stanford defense on its toes.
“We need more than one [No. 7] because we need to be full speed on every play,” Shaw said. “We’re rotating guys through and trying not to give our defense too much rest, just to make sure they feel the speed and urgency with which [Cooks] runs routes, because he runs routes like his life depends on them.”
In particular, Shaw noted that receivers Keanu Nelson and Dontonio Jordan, who both have similar builds to Cooks’, have impressed on the scout team in getting the defense ready for Saturday. Shaw also noted that he is very pleased with the rapid progress of Jordan, a sophomore wideout.
“[Jordan has] probably had his best couple weeks of practice in the last couple of weeks.” Shaw stated. “He had an outstanding scrimmage last week. He’s coming along.”
On the injury front, Shaw shared some positive news regarding cornerback Alex Carter and wide receiver Devon Cajuste, who both went down with injuries against UCLA.
Shaw revealed that Carter suffered a bruise after getting kicked during last Saturday’s contest. The sophomore practiced very well on Tuesday while battling soreness and hopes to be at full strength by Saturday.
Meanwhile, Cajuste was held out of practice while he waits for his knee brace to arrive. Earlier in the day, Shaw disclosed that the junior suffered no ligament damage when he injured his knee against the Bruins. Cajuste is expected to play against OSU.
Continuing his streak of positive news, Shaw also announced that senior defensive end Henry Anderson might be able to return for Stanford’s showdown with Oregon on Nov. 7. Anderson has now finished all of his “in-house” rehabilitation and is now working on running full speed outside.
Shaw also expressed confidence that Anderson will be able to contribute and aid a banged-up Cardinal defensive line right away based on the program’s previous success in rehabbing players.
“When our guys come back to play, they come back ready to go,” Shaw said. “We’ll still probably rotate [Anderson] to make sure he gets his wind back, but when our guys are cleared they’re ready to come play.”
Saturday’s trip to Corvallis also marks the first road game for the Cardinal since its loss at Utah on Oct. 12. To prepare for the game against the No. 25 ranked Beavers, Shaw plans to mention the Utah game frequently to keep his players focused.
“When you go through something tough, the worst thing you can do is forget about it,” Shaw said. “You have to learn your lessons and bring those lessons forward. We got outplayed…and we have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
The Cardinal will try to avoid another upset on the road when it travels to Oregon State this Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN.
Contact Vihan Lakshman at vihan ‘at’ stanford.edu.