Cardinal Begins Spring Football Practice April 2nd
Stanford, Calif. - Spring football practice for head coach Buddy Teevens and the 2003 Cardinal begins Wednesday, April 2 and runs through April 26. Stanford will take part in 15 practices during this time, culminating in the Spring Game at Stanford Stadium on Saturday, April 26 at 1:00 pm.
The Cardinal returns 38 lettermen and 11 starters off last year's team, including eight starters on defense, three on offense and both kickers. Stanford begins the '03 campaign September 6 with a home game vs. San Jose State at 7:00 pm at Stanford Stadium.
Spring Practice schedule is as follows:
Wednesday, April 2 - 4:00 p.m.
Friday, April 4 - 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 5 - 10:00 a.m.
Monday, April 7 - 4:00 p.m.
Wednesday, April 9 - 4:00 p.m.
Friday, April 11 - 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 12 - 10:00 a.m.
Monday, April 14 - 4:00 p.m.
Wednesday, April 16 - 4:00 p.m.
Friday, April 18 - 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 19 - 1:30 p.m.
Monday, April 21 - 4:00 p.m.
Wednesday, April 23 - 4:00 p.m.
Friday, April 25 - 4:00 p.m.
Cardinal-White Spring Game, Saturday, April 26, 1:00 p.m., Stanford Stadium
Stanford's 2003 spring football outlook follows:
Talk to second year head coach Buddy Teevens about the 2003 Cardinal and he'lluse words like consistency, strength, durability, endurance, work ethic, productivityand commitment. These are the tenets for the '03 season as the Cardinal attemptsto erase the memory of the 2002 season and begin anew in bringing Stanford footballback to the national spotlight.
And there's certainly reason for optimism in 2003. Teevens can count on eightreturning starters and 21 returning letterman to a defense that has the potentialto show vast improvement in '03. Offensively, the Cardinal has talent andexperience at the skill positions, but must put together an offensive line thatreturns just one starter from last year's team.
'I was impressed with the work-ethic our team showed during the off-season,'said Teevens. 'There's no question that this team is committed to doingeverything it takes to be a winner.'
Defensively, Stanford's young and inexperienced team of a year ago is nowa more seasoned, veteran group consisting of players who saw significant playingtime in 2002 and showed continued improvement.
Defensive ends Amon Gordon and Louis Hobson return up front along with the startinglinebacker corps of David Bergeson, Jack Covault and Jon Alston. In the secondary,the Cardinal returns starting corners Leigh Torrence and Stanley Wilson and strongsafety Oshiomogho Atogwe, last year's leading tackler.
'We have a lot of experience coming back on defense,' said Teevens.'We made progress last year, but now it's time for this group to emergeand play more consistently. With the experience we have, we expect that to happen.'
The Cardinal returns just three starters on offense and will have to rely on agroup of young players to mature quickly, especially on the offensive line. Earlydepartures to the NFL by all-conference tackle Kwame Harris - a junior in2002 - and leading receiver Teyo Johnson - a sophomore a year ago -have hurt the team's depth.
'We have a question on the offensive line due to the limited number of peoplewith playing experience,' said Teevens. 'It's a cohesive group,led by senior Kirk Chambers, but our challenge as a coaching staff will be tobring in some new faces and begin putting the pieces in place this spring.'
'The quarterback position will be very competitive this spring,' saidTeevens. 'We do not have a returning player who has a lock on the position.We'd like to name a starter by the end of spring.'
Below is a position-by-position breakdown of the 2003 Cardinal:
Chris Lewis played only five games a year ago due to a rotator cuff injury while redshirt freshman Kyle Matter started the other six and received valuable playing experience. The question in 2003 is will Lewis return to the form that has allowed him to throw for 3,168 yards and 25 touchdowns, or will Matter continue to grow and mature into the full-time starter? Or, are any of the three other candidates, junior Ryan Eklund and redshirt freshman Trent Edwards and David Lofton, ready to make a run at the starting job? Teevens would like to name a starter by the end of spring. 'It's one of the most competitive positions on the team,' he said. 'Chris is healthy again from off-season shoulder surgery and Kyle is physically maturing and learning a great deal from his experiences of last year.' Lewis is tied for seventh on Stanford's career touchdown list and has a chance to move into the all-time top-10 in virtually every passing category if he becomes the starter in '03. Matter completed 116-of-214 for 1,219 yards and eight touchdowns last season while starting six games, including the last five. Eklund has been a backup for the Cardinal the past two seasons and Edwards and Lofton will be serious contenders for playing time in 2003. 'We need to be more consistent at the quarterback position, protect the football better and improve our accuracy in the passing game, ' said Teevens.
Junior Kenneth Tolon and sophomore J.R. Lemon return as the team's two experienced running backs. Neither has started or been the team's main rushing threat, but both have shown that they have the potential to fill that role. Tolon has rushed for 692 yards and seven touchdowns the past two seasons and his 5.8 yards per carry average during this time is the best on the team. He has two, 100-yard rushing games in his career. A year ago, he was third on the team with 346 yards on the ground while scoring a team-best four rushing touchdowns. Lemon received his first playing experience last season and showed flashes of his talent. 'We need to run the ball more effectively,' said Teevens. 'Both Kenny and J.R. are capable of becoming every down backs, but we need them to show more consistency and durability.' Redshirt freshman Gerald Commissiong, a converted defensive back, is also in the hunt for playing time at running back. At the fullback position, four-year starter Casey Moore has left a void that will be difficult to fill. The trio of returnees looking to earn the number one spot includes senior Cooper Blackhurst, last year's backup, junior Pat Jacobs and sophomore Kris Bonifas.
Luke Powell has caught 83 passes for 1,560 yards (18.8 ypc) and 11 touchdowns in his career and is the unquestioned leader of the Cardinal's wide receiver corps. He played at less than 100 percent last season with an ankle injury, but when healthy he is one of the most dangerous players in college football. Junior-to-be Teyo Johnson, the team's leading receiver last year, departed the Farm for the NFL Draft, leaving with two years of eligibility remaining. A year ago, juniors Greg Camarillo and Nick Sebes and sophomores Grant Mason and Gerren Crochet received playing time in a reserve role. Mason finished fifth on the team with 23 receptions while Camarillo had eight catches, Crochet caught five balls and Sebes missed a month of the season with a knee injury. 'We have players who are capable of becoming major contributors this season,' says Teevens, 'and they will get their opportunity this spring to compete for a starting spot.' Sophomore Justin McCullum and senior Brandon Royster are coming off injuries from a year ago, but are also in the mix to battle for a spot in the rotation. Others competing for playing time include senior Jay Goff and freshman Dan Knickerbocker and Chris Ryan.
Stanford found itself thin at the tight end spot in 2002 after starter Brett Pierce was lost for the year in the season opener and true freshman Matt Traverso suffered a season-ending injury in the second game of the year. That left Alex Smith as the starter and only experienced tight end on the team. Smith responded brilliantly by catching 30 passes, second best on the team, for 380 yards (12.7 ypc) and two touchdowns while starting the final 10 games of the year. With Pierce, a fifth-year senior and starter in 2001, and Traverso now healthy, Stanford enters the '03 campaign with three quality tight ends. Pierce has caught 26 passes for 299 yards (11.5 ypc) and three touchdowns in his career and was considered one of the best tight ends in the Pac-10 before his injury. Traverso is a talented second-year player who adds quality depth to the tight end position.
Three-year starter Kirk Chambers returns to anchor an offensive line that must rebuild with young players after losing four starters off last year's team. Chambers has started every game at left tackle over the past three years (34 straight) and enters the 2003 season among the best in the Pac-10. The early departure of First-Team All-Pac-10 tackle Kwame Harris to the NFL was a key loss for the Cardinal. Harris, winner of last year's Morris Trophy as the top lineman in the Pac-10, still had one more year of eligibility remaining. Surrounding Chambers will be a cast of young, inexperienced but highly motivated and talented players hungry for their chance to compete for a starting spot. 'We'll need Kirk Chambers to provide great leadership along with solid play up front,' says Teevens. 'There are questions that remain with the offensive line due to the limited number of players with game experience. With so many young faces, one of our primary challenges as a coaching staff this spring will be to develop these young players and get them ready to play in September.' The only two players with game experience other than Chambers are senior Mike Sullivan and sophomore Brian Head. The Cardinal's freshman class a year ago included seven offensive linemen, some of whom will find their way into the starting lineup in 2003. Chambers will start at left tackle with freshman Matt McClernan backing him up. At left guard, redshirt freshmen David Beall and Ismael Simpson will compete for the to spot. Another pair of redshirt freshmen will battle for the starting spot at right guard: Jeff Edwards and Josiah Vinson. Sullivan and redshirt freshman Jon Cochran are the two candidates at right tackle with Head and redshirt freshman Tim Mattran competing at center. 'We will rely heavily on last year's freshman class,' says Teevens.
The Cardinal returns two starters and experienced players at the end positions, but need to shore up the middle of their defensive line after losing both starters off last year's team. At the end positions, returning starters Amon Gordon and Louis Hobson return along with 2002 letter-winners senior Drew Caylor, junior Will Svitek and sophomore Julian Jenkins. All five players spent time in the starting lineup a year ago. Gordon, a junior, has five sacks and 12 tackles for loss in his career while Hobson, who started eight games last season, is the team' s leading returning tackler on the defensive line. Caylor started three games, Svitek three before being moved to tight end and Jenkins, a true freshman in 2002, started one and became a valuable reserve as one of two true freshman to earn a letter a year ago. Sophomore Michael Lovelady and redshirt freshman Chris Gaines add depth at defensive end and will be in the hunt for increased playing time. Inside, the Cardinal must replace starting tackle Matt Leonard and nose tackle Trey Freeman. Junior Scott Scharff and sophomore Casey Carroll lettered a year ago at tackle and will compete for the starting spot in 2003. Sophomore Babatunde Oshinowo was impressive in a reserve role last year at nose tackle and is the leading contender to start in '03. Senior Ian Shelswell will battle Oshinowo for playing time at NT. 'We need to generate a greater pass rush and have more consistent play along the defensive line,' says Teevens. 'Our inside guys have to play at a higher level. We have some players at the end positions who have tremendous athletic potential and it will be crucial for them to continue to improve and heighten their play.'
The Cardinal returns its top six linebackers from a year ago and will begin the 2003 campaign with an experienced, season corps from which to choose. Both outside linebacker positions and the middle linebacker spot will be very competitive. For the record, Stanford returns all three starters in OLBs Jon Alston and David Bergeron and MLB Jake Covault. However, all six returnees spent time in the starting lineup last year. Make no mistake, sophomore Michael Craven, junior Jared Newberry and senior Brian Gaffney will be in the hunt for starting roles in 2003. 'We have some depth and experience at the linebacker positions,' says Teevens. 'A year ago, they were a young, inexperienced group. Now, we expect them to play like seasoned veterans.' Covault, the only senior in the group along with Brian Gaffney, led the linebacking corps with 52 tackles last season while starting nine games at MLB. Gaffney started the final two games of the year, finishing with 27 tackles. Bergeron, now a junior, was Stanford's starting OLB in 10 games last season. He will be moved to MLB for the '03 campaign. At the outside positions, the battle for the two starting spots is likely to be among Alston, Craven and Newberry. Alston started five games last year as a redshirt freshman and finished with 30 tackles and two tackles for loss. Craven started the first four games of the '02 season. He finished the year with 28 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and one interception return for a touchdown. Newberry, a starter in three games, had 45 total stops, 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Also in the hunt for playing time, both on defense and on special teams, are sophomore Capp Culver and redshirt freshmen Mike Silva and Taualai Fonoti. 'We need greater consistency and play-making capability from our linebackers,' says Teevens.
Three starters are back in 2003, including corners Leigh Torrence and Stanley Wilson, and strong safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, but a question remains at free safety. Wilson and Torrence, both juniors, started all 11 games last year while redshirt freshman T.J. Rushing came off the bench as the team's third corner. That provides the Cardinal with three solid players from which to build. Torrence had three interceptions, five pass breakups and 38 total tackles last year, Wilson had two interceptions, six pass break ups and 32 tackles while Rushing had two INTs, 21 tackles and four tackles for loss. Atogwe led the team in tackles last year with 71 and was Stanford's most active player on defense. He also chipped in with three interceptions, one fumble recovery, three forced fumbles, four pass break ups, one sack and one tackle for loss in starting all 11 games. 'We expect to perform at a higher level in 2003,' said Teevens. 'With three starters back, we have a more experienced, veteran group who continued to make progress last year.' The starting role at free safety will be a battle between sophomores Kevin Schimmelmann and Timi Wusu, and redshirt freshman Trevor Hooper and Bryan Bentrott. Both Schimmelmann and Wusu played a reserve role last year and earned letters, mainly for their play on special teams. Sophomores Calvin Armstrong and Nick Silvas and redshirt freshman Marcus McCutcheon will also be competing for playing time at the cornerback positions.
Both starting kickers return from last season, including P Eric Johnson and PK Michael Sgroi. Johnson, now a senior, has been the team's top punter the past two years. He averaged 39.8 yards on 58 punts last season and has a 38.1 career punting averaged. In his first season as the team's number one place-kicker, Sgroi connected on nine-of-15 field goals and 23-of-24 PATs despite suffering from a back injury most of the season. 'Eric has continued to improve as a punter, but we're looking for more consistency in 2003,' says Teevens. 'Sgroi has been through an off-season rehabilitation program to strengthen his back and we'll need him at full health to become more of a weapon for us.'