By Sam Fisher
Josh Nunes is Stanford’s starting quarterback. Period. End of story. At the team’s weekly press conference on Tuesday, coach David Shaw made a rare opening statement to reaffirm his full commitment to Nunes and announce that he would not be answering any more questions related to a potential quarterback change.
“As far as the quarterback situation goes, I’m not going to answer any questions about whether or not we’re going to play another quarterback. Josh is the starting quarterback.
“We’re not changing quarterbacks. That doesn’t make any sense to me. We wanted to bronze his arms and his legs after USC and now I gotta answer a hundred questions about why we’re not changing quarterbacks. It’s asinine.”
That statement of confidence from Shaw really sums up the sentiment of Tuesday’s press conference. Though everyone on the team is very disappointed by Stanford’s loss at Washington, nobody is panicking. No major changes are going to come this week as Stanford looks to bounce back at home against Arizona. Instead, look for a few small changes in Nunes’ technique.
“It’s all mechanics. It’s not anything Josh can’t do and hasn’t done a thousand times…it’s about making sure his body is always in the right position.”
In addition to fixing physical mistakes, much of the focus early in the week has been on mentally bouncing back from a tough defeat. A lot of this attitude is coming from Stanford’s senior leadership, including nose tackle Terrence Stephens. When it comes to moving forward from losses, Stephens preaches the “24-hour” rule.
“24 hours to sulk. You can cry in your bed. You can roll over and pout. But after that, you better get up and be a man about it.”
The tone of the day was not entirely negative, as Shaw had some good injury news to present. Junior running back Anthony Wilkerson is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a lower leg injury and has a chance to play on Saturday. Wilkerson, who didn’t make the trip to Seattle, has missed much of the last three games battling the injury originally suffered against Duke. Shaw indicated that Wilkerson may be back at practice today, and if he’s out there, he has a good chance to play on Saturday.
In other injury news, Andrus Peat played without his cast for the first time all season against Washington to rave reviews. Coach Shaw thought he played very well, and is focused on working Peat to reach his potential as soon as possible, along with fellow contributing true freshmen offensive linemen Kyle Murphy and Joshua Garnett.
While much of Stanford’s 2012 talent influx has come from its aforementioned offensive linemen, Arizona is riding high in the wake of its hiring of head coach Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez is known for having a bit of quirkiness in his offensive and defensive schemes, which causes troubles when transitioning between programs. However, Rich Rod’s start in Arizona seems to be going much more smoothly, leaving Coach Shaw “surprised and disappointed” by the challenge coming on Saturday.
Arizona’s early success is just one example of Pac-12 head coaching victories early in 2012. Rodriguez is brand new, but the conference’s longest-tenured head coach, Oregon State’s Mike Riley, is in the midst of a surprisingly exciting season of his own. Oregon State joins only Oregon in the undefeated ranks of Pac-12 schools, and with Notre Dame still undefeated, Stanford’s schedule looks more menacing than ever as things stand today.
That schedule is both scary yet refreshing for Stanford’s remaining season hopes. On the one hand, there are many tough games left that Stanford has to overcome, highlighted by Oregon, Oregon State and Notre Dame. But on the other hand, Stanford will certainly benefit in the rankings from its strength of schedule. Out of Stanford’s first four opponents, only Washington has lost a game to a team not named Stanford, and that was a road trip at powerhouse LSU.