By George Chen
Just three days until the season opener against San Jose State, the Stanford football starting roster for game one has almost been finalized—keyword being “almost” because the left tackle position on the offensive line is still up in the air.
Head coach David Shaw has acknowledged that the starter at that critical spot could potentially be a freshman, but whether that ends up being Andrus Peat or Kyle Murphy remains to be seen.
“We’ve seen some tremendous growth from both Andrus Peat and Kyle Murphy,” Shaw said. “We’ll see how much one or both are ready to play and how much they’re able to play during the course of the game.”
If Shaw isn’t fully comfortable with starting either of the two freshmen, redshirt junior Khalil Wilkes will claim the starting role at left guard while standout junior David Yankey will slide over to the left tackle spot. Even if this is the case, Shaw reiterated that both Peat and Murphy will still see “significant playing time” in the first game, albeit not the majority of the game.
“Mentally, we’re not worried about David [Yankey] at all,” Shaw said. “He can cover for us at left tackle and obviously he can play left guard. I think he’ll be dominant by the end of the year at that position—he’s special.”
Shaw stated that the left tackle decision will hopefully be made by Thursday.
Shaw confirmed at Monday’s press conference that redshirt junior Ryan Hewitt, who suffered an ankle sprain earlier in preseason camp, will sit out the first game, but might be healthy enough to play against Duke on Sept. 8. Hewitt’s hard-hitting classmate Geoff Meinken will also most likely be sidelined until the middle of the season due to a knee injury.
“Ankle [injuries] are a tricky thing,” commented Shaw. “And [Hewitt’s] ankle needs at least one more week, possibly two.”
Filling in for Hewitt and Meinken will be a pair of physical youngsters, redshirt sophomore Lee Ward and redshirt freshman Patrick Skov. In addition to being part of the action in the backfield, both fullbacks will have important roles on the special teams unit.
“We’re one of the few teams in America that can have two injured fullbacks and still have two fullbacks to play,” Shaw commented on the depth. “We might be the only school in America.”
The Cardinal kicks off it season against the Spartans at Stanford Stadium this Friday at 7 p.m.
Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that Peat and Murphy are competing for the left guard position. They are competing for the left tackle position, although whether or not one of them claims the spot will also determine who starts at left guard.