The Stanford football team began its final preparations for the 2011 season on Monday, with a no-pads practice that lasted about two and a half hours.
All eyes were on new head coach David Shaw and Heisman Trophy-favorite Andrew Luck. The redshirt junior quarterback was excited to end the summer.
“I was very excited to come out,” Luck said. “The first practice is always something. I had a former coach describe it like Christmas. It’s fun to be out here with all the guys and sort of put life away to just focus on football.”
Having shaved his beard since Pac-12 Media Day, Luck threw well, but he still saw room for improvement. Shaw echoed that sentiment for the team as a whole.
“I told the guys that it was pretty good,” Shaw said. “But that’s not what our standard is. Our standard is to be better, to be more exact, to be faster. And we have work to do.”
“We want to be as good as we can every single time we step on the playing field,” he added.
Coaches nationwide have high expectations for the Cardinal as well, ranking Stanford No. 6 in the USA Today/Coaches Poll, the highest preseason ranking in program history. AP rankings are released this week.
Junior tight end Levine Toilolo and senior wide receiver Chris Owusu were both back out on the field after sustaining injuries last season. Toilolo missed the whole year after tearing both his ACL and MCL on Stanford’s second play from scrimmage in the opener against Sacramento State.
To prevent players from re-injuring any existing conditions, practices are starting out light.
“We just want to see how hard we can run, how fast we can run, and in a couple days, we’ll put the pads on,” Shaw said.