VegasInsider.com
VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Horses
Soccer
BOX/MMA
CFL
More
Betting Tools

 
Stanford feeling rosy in spring practice

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Dry conditions, cool temperatures and the smell of clean-cut grass brought a smile to the face of Stanford coach David Shaw on the first day of spring practice.

Advertisement
``It started off warm,'' he said. ``It felt like spring a little bit when we first got out here.''

This February sure feels rosier on The Farm.

Under a colorful sky and a Silicon Valley sunset, the Cardinal began the first half of their split spring practice schedule Monday evening with something even more comforting than the weather: a starting quarterback. The defending Pac-12 Conference and Rose Bowl champions also return most of a stout defense, too.

Stanford still needs to sort out starters at running back, tight end, wide receiver, left tackle and center under new offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren. While those competitions will likely last through the summer, this spring should give a glimpse about whether the Cardinal are worthy of what so many are forecasting this fall: a top-five ranking in The Associated Press preseason poll.

After two hectic months on the road recruiting and attending coaching clinics, Shaw felt at ease being back on the field. His message to players at the start of spring: keep it simple.

``I'm excited about how we started,'' Shaw said at the end of practice, when a full moon illuminated the night sky. ``We started much better than we did a year ago on the first day of spring. I think we've got a lot of retention, a lot of guys coming back, there's a lot of energy. I think they remembered the beginning of last spring, so our seniors did a great job of getting these guys ready to go. We started fast. It was a good day.''

Expectations will be far different at Stanford this year.

Last February, the Cardinal appeared headed for a major rebuilding project. Andrew Luck left to become the No. 1 overall pick of the Indianapolis Colts. Replacements also had to be found at safety, cornerback, wide receiver, tight end, left tackle and right guard.

Josh Nunes didn't beat out Brett Nottingham at quarterback until August, and he lost the job to redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan after nine games. Hogan carried the Cardinal to five straight wins as the starter, including at Oregon and in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin - the program's first victory in ``The Granddaddy of Them All'' in 41 years.

Shaw already has declared Hogan the starter this spring. He said he wants Hogan to take more command of the offense and more of a leadership role.

Hogan, now sporting a Luck-like scruffy beard, had just started immersing himself in the full playbook this time a year ago after spending the previous season on the scout team. Now he's solidified as the starter and has spent the last two months tossing passing to receivers about three times a week, when most of the returning starters organized voluntary workouts.

``It was nice to be out and have it really organized tonight,'' said Hogan, who also has set a goal to improve his footwork. ``Everyone was flying around, excited to be out here.''

Outside linebacker Chase Thomas leaves the biggest hole on defense, though the Cardinal had such a legion of linebackers, playing time proved to be the only real problem at the position last season. Leading tackler Shayne Skov, who will not participate in the first portion of spring while he attends to a family matter with his brother, fullback Patrick Skov, also is among those coming back from a defense that ranked in the top five in yards rushing allowed (97), sacks (4.07) and tackles for loss (8.86) per game.

By far the biggest concerns are on offense.

Stepfan Taylor, the school's record-setting running back, is set to graduate and enter the NFL draft. Tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo decided to forego their final year of eligibility to turn pro.

Running back Tyler Gaffney is returning for his senior season after a year in the Pittsburgh Pirates' minor league system and should help alleviate Taylor's loss. But Gaffney won't be in school until the spring quarter begins, so he'll miss the first half of workouts, which he sat out in previous years playing baseball anyway.

Anthony Wilkerson, Remound Wright, Ricky Seale and Barry Sanders are among those vying for carries. Sanders and wide receiver Keanu Nelson could also see time at punt returner with Drew Terrell gone.

Fullback Geoff Meinken also is back after a severe knee injury in last year's spring game sidelined him for the season. So is outside linebacker Blake Lueders, who redshirted last season because of injuries.

Centers Graham Shuler and Kevin Reihner will miss the first session of spring, Shaw said. Shuler is out for disciplinary reasons, while Reihner is sidelined with an undisclosed injured. That means Khalil Wilkes and Conor McFadden are splitting the workload in one of the most crucial position battles.

``We're going to wear them out, which is good. They need it,'' Shaw said.

The first half of spring drills, which go until March 9, will focus on installing plays and basic practices. The second half, which begins April 1, will include more game situations and scripted plays, such as down and distance.

The annual Cardinal & White Spring Game will be at Stanford Stadium on April 13. For now, most are just happy to be practicing together again.

``To come back on the field, it's like, `Thank goodness,''' Shaw said. ``This is what we enjoy. And I told the guys, `If you're wired the right way, you've been excited all day today.' And hopefully we got enough guys that felt that way.''

---

NOTES: Shaw said he hopes to hire a new tight ends coach this week after Ron Crook, who also oversaw the tackles, left to become the offensive line coach at West Virginia. Bloomgren also will oversee Stanford's offensive line this season.

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
HEADLINES
News: South Point releases GOY Odds
BetDSI: Handicapping South Carolina (7)
News: 2018 Power 5 Win Totals
BetDSI: Handicapping Texas A&M (7)
BetDSI: Handicapping LSU (7.5)
Georgia DB Bishop jailed on felony charge
Auburn walk-on denied due to condition
Michigan offers scholarship to 8th grader
Irish WR Canteen plans to transfer
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NCAAFB College Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
VegasInsider.com Gold Membership
2017 CFB SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Vince Akins + 3165
Scott Pritchard + 2769
Mark Franco + 2093
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bill Marzano + 517
Gary Bart + 290
Jim Feist + 185
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Scott Pritchard 68 %
Vince Akins 64 %
Dave Cokin 62 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 1510
Scott Pritchard + 1184
Marc Lawrence + 975
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Kyle Hunter + 1365
Scott Pritchard + 1074
Antony Dinero + 551
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Mark Franco + 1060
Marc Lawrence + 959
Joe Williams + 805
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, SAVE 10% off a Live Odds Pro subscription, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership