By Joseph Beyda
After Stanford’s second day of practices in preparation for San Jose State, head coach David Shaw passed on the first notable injury news of the season: fifth-year senior fullback Ryan Hewitt was held out of practice on Tuesday and might miss Saturday’s season opener.
Hewitt bruised his knee in the team’s Aug. 24 open scrimmage, but didn’t participate in practice because the swelling has not gone down. He did run at full speed for the first time since the injury, and Shaw said that Hewitt is a “wait-and-see” for Saturday.
“That’s why we need to have multiple fullbacks, and we’ll continue to recruit fullbacks,” Shaw said. “We never run out because guys get banged up.”
The team had to rely on then-junior Lee Ward and then-sophomore Patrick Skov against the Spartans in 2012, when Hewitt was kept out of Stanford’s first two games with an ankle injury.
“He’s been upset about [missing the San Jose State game] for 12 months,” Shaw said. “So he doesn’t want to miss this one… If it was up to him, we all know what he would do, but it’s not up to him, so we’ll see how he’s feeling the next couple of days.”
Asked about tight end Davis Dudchock, who did not appear on the team’s two-deep this week, Shaw indicated that the fifth-year senior might not even be third in line (behind starters Luke Kaumatule and Charlie Hopkins). After a strong training camp, it appears that Eddie Plantaric has passed Dudchock, who will still see time on special teams.
“I think those guys are a little bit ahead [of Dudchock] right now,” Shaw said.
Shaw was also asked which sophomore, Johnny Caspers or Joshua Garnett, would fill in at right guard if fifth-year senior Kevin Danser were to go down with an injury. His answer: “Yes.”
Shaw praised the energy level of tailback Tyler Gaffney, who returned to the team in the spring after playing a year of professional baseball. He said that while fellow senior Anthony Wilkerson is known as a more powerful runner, Gaffney’s large frame also makes him a mismatch against opposing defense.
“Technically he’s a slasher, a great cut-back guy,” Shaw said. “But your slashers usually aren’t over 6-foot, 220 pounds.”
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Kevin Hogan said that he studied the playbook for about two hours each night during training camp, but that the workload has only increased this week.
“Game week you have to do a lot more on your own, because your gameplan is everything and it’s a lot of new stuff,” Hogan said. “There’s not enough hours where you can do it as a team.”
Shaw indicated that he hasn’t decided whether any true freshmen will play, but that tight end Austin Hooper and wide receiver Francis Owusu are the most likely candidates.