By George Chen
Midway through week two of Stanford football training camp, starting roles at key positions, including center and outside linebacker, are still up in the air, but head coach David Shaw expects the competitions to become clearer early next week.
As Thursday’s practice indicated, the grueling nature of two-a-days is starting to take a visible toll on the team. The players aren’t stepping off the gas pedal though — not when their entire offseason was spent training for this month; not when the season opener stands just a little over two weeks away.
“The week started off really, really well,” Shaw said. “Guys are tired right now, and they’re fighting through it. But that’s what you expect out of them. I expect them to be tired and still get their assignments done and still go as fast as they can go and be as physical as they can be. Because that’s football.”
Shaw was impressed by senior nose tackle David Parry and fifth-year senior inside linebacker Shayne Skov last week, but it was junior wideout Ty Montgomery who garnered praise from the head coach on Thursday. Montgomery had a stellar freshman campaign with 24 receptions for 350 yards and two touchdowns, but a leg injury in 2012 limited his game action. One of the fastest players on the team, Montgomery’s performance this season will be critical for the Cardinal, which lost its top four targets in the passing game. So far, things have looked promising for the junior.
“This training camp, [Montgomery’s] actually faster than he was freshman year,” Shaw said. “He’s more confident, he knows what he’s doing, he’s comfortable and he’s healthy… He’s learned how to catch the deep ball. That’s been a process for him, not having a high school quarterback. With the arms that we have here, that’s something you have to learn how to do and he’s got a lot more comfortable doing that.”
The Cardinal also looks to replace the dependable Drew Terrell at punt returner, and according to Shaw, sophomore Kodi Whitfield may currently have a slight edge over Montgomery and redshirt freshman Barry J. Sanders. As for kickoff returns, Montgomery and redshirt sophomore Kelsey Young will resume their responsibilities from last season.
After getting the rust off in week one, the players have been focusing on the nitty-gritty — more work on technique — in the past few practices.
“It’s been a little cleaner on the defensive side of the ball,” said redshirt junior defensive end Henry Anderson.
“[Week two has been] better than week one,” added defensive line coach Randy Hart. “It better be.”