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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Q&A: Cardinal sports blog talks Stanford schemes, coaching

Nhat V. Meyer
Stanford’s Chase Thomas (44) and Shayne Skov (11) force a throw from Arizona quarterback Nick Foles in the first quarter at Stanford Stadium in Stanford, California, on Saturday, November 6, 2010. Stanford turned Arizona aside, 42-17. (Nhat V. Meyer/San Jose Mercury News/MCT)

With No. 6 Stanford coming to Arizona Stadium on Saturday, the Daily Wildcat decided to get a different angle on how Stanford looks since former head coach Jim Harbaugh headed to the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. We emailed Willys DeVoll, editor-in-chief of, a student-run website dedicated to Stanford sports, to discuss how David Shaw has stepped into the head coaching job, how Arizona should attack the Cardinal on offense and any weaknesses in Andrew Luck’s game.

Daily Wildcat: How has David Shaw done since taking over for Jim Harbaugh? At this point, is he just living off of Harbaugh’s solid recruiting, or is he a pretty solid game-day coach?

Willys DeVoll: Shaw held together the 2011 recruiting class after Harbaugh headed north to Candlestick, so early indications say he deserves time to prove himself on the recruiting trail. The concern for Stanford fans is that Shaw got outcoached by Duke’s David Cutcliffe last week, and the Cardinal’s first half in that game was underwhelming. The team got it together for the second 30 minutes, but there were moments when Shaw looked concerned on the sideline.

What are the weaknesses of the Cardinal defense? Where would you attack if you were Arizona offensive coordinator Seth Littrell?

Stanford is young in the secondary, and Arizona ought to use Nick Foles’ arm as much as possible anyway given the Wildcats’ personnel. Out of Stanford’s four starters in the secondary, three are seniors and one — free safety Michael Thomas — is a team captain. But the first four defensive backs off the bench are all either sophomores or freshmen, and starting corner Barry Browning is a true sophomore. Testing the linebackers is virtually a futile exercise and the defensive line has looked good despite losing senior nose tackle Sione Fua to graduation and the NFL in the spring. Stanford gave up 305 passing yards to Duke; the air is the way to test the Cardinal.

Is there any chance Stanford overlooks Arizona with the way the past six games have gone for the Wildcats (1-5)?

There is some chance, but I think it’s very slim. Stanford played San Jose State and Duke in the opening weeks and won by a total of 84 points. After Arizona, Stanford doesn’t play another team within shouting distance of Arizona’s ability until Washington comes to the Farm on October 22, and two of the three games in between Arizona and Washington are in Stanford Stadium. The Cardinal should be ready for Saturday regardless of the recent results against Arizona.

Stanford struggled a little bit with Duke in the first half last week. Why?

The offensive line continues to struggle and get used to three new starters. Andrew Luck got hit as many times as I can remember him ever being hit in his just over two years as the starting quarterback. And the Blue Devils are no juggernaut. The offense in general looked a bit off — routes were sloppy, passes were in front of and behind receivers and some plays just didn’t develop — but I consider that collateral damage of playing a huge underdog in hot weather over 3,000 miles from Stanford in the second game of the season. If all that continues, it could become a real problem. Now it’s still not much of a concern.

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