During training camp, Stanford football head coach David Shaw repeatedly emphasized how pleased he was with his team’s overall depth. Now, facing a Saturday night showdown at CenturyLink Field against Washington State without heralded seniors Ed Reynolds (suspended for the first half) and David Yankey, the Cardinal will certainly be putting this depth to the test.
In particular, the Stanford defensive backs will face a stiff challenge in stopping Mike Leach’s pass-happy spread attack with free safety Reynolds out for the first half and cornerback Barry Browning questionable to play with an undisclosed injury. However, Shaw remains optimistic given the tremendous depth in the secondary.
“We have three different nickels and we have four different guys that can play corner, and four different guys that can play safety [even] without Ed,” Shaw said.
Specifically, Shaw pointed to fifth-year senior Usua Amanam and junior Ronnie Harris as nickelbacks who could make an impact at corner in the absence of Browning. In place of Reynolds, the Cardinal will start senior Devon Carrington at safety. In addition, Carrington will also see significant action at corner in the second half once Reynolds finishes serving his suspension for targeting Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly in last week’s game.
When asked about the possibility of seeing a significant amount of playing time this week, Carrington emphasized his readiness to take on the task.
“I feel great about that. If that’s how it works out, I’d be just fine,” Carrington said. “I’d be happy about it. But I’m ready for it. I’ve played plenty of corner this camp and the first few games so I’m ready…I’m just trying to focus right now on safety and just getting the job done.”
On the offensive side of the ball, sophomore Joshua Garnett will replace the All-American Yankey at the left guard position. While Stanford will certainly miss the experience and leadership of Yankey, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Mike Bloomgren expressed confidence that Garnett will be able to step up.
“He had the best game of his Stanford career [against Arizona State],” Bloomgren said. “It’s great to see him growing into his role…He’s light-years ahead of where he was last year, but he’s also light-years ahead of where he was last spring.”
Moreover, Saturday’s game at CenturyLink Field will also be a homecoming for Garnett, a Puyallup, Wash., native. When asked about players returning to their hometowns for games, Shaw acknowledged that those contests do take on an additional level of significance and excitement. Consequently, Shaw revealed that he will tease Garnett before the game to calm him down by telling him, “Don’t jump offside on the first play.”
However, Shaw also noted that he believes Garnett will naturally settle down once the game gets going.
“It’s always that first play where they’re so ramped up,” Shaw said, “but once we get to play 20 and 30, he’s going to be too tired to be excited.”
Contact Vihan Lakshman at vihan ‘at’ stanford.edu.