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Notebook: Arizona State

Oct 20, 2022

GIVEN HIS PLACE on the running back depth chart a year ago, Casey Filkins, a junior academically, could not have foreseen the workload he would be taking on. 

Now, because of transfers and injuries, the rushing responsibility is almost solely on the shoulders of Filkins, who has responded with 430 yards rushing and 16 catches for 203 yards in six games. 

"The fact that I'm in this role right now, I didn't necessarily expect it," Filkins said. "But at the end of the day, I truly feel I'm made for it. This is what I've prepared for the past four years. I'm starting to get more confident and really starting to get a good feel for the speed of the game. It feels like it's starting to slow down a little bit." 

Against Notre Dame, Filkins had 32 carries for 91 yards, and had 36 touches altogether when combined with his four receptions for 46 yards.

But … 32 carries?

"That is not ideal," said David Shaw, Stanford's Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football. "That was not the plan. I was shocked afterward to know it was that many carries. We've really worked on getting a better rotation for him. We've got a couple other capable guys who have to take some of that responsibility. But at the same time, Casey played great. He does whatever we ask. His teammates trust him and believe in him.

"But that was quite a bit more than we anticipated and hoped for. I don't anticipate that happening very much." 
 
* * * 
 

Michael Wilson. Photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com.

IF STANFORD SELECTED an MVP for the first half of the season, there's a good chance it would be Michael Wilson. But Wilson, a fifth-year receiver and captain, will be out for a while, if not the season, after being injured against Notre Dame last week. 

Wilson leads the Cardinal in receptions (26) and receiving yards (418), and is tied for second in touchdowns (four). 

"It's hard to put into words what Mike has meant to this football team and to this coaching staff," Shaw said. "His on-the-field play speaks for himself. His playmaking, his tenacity, his work ethic day-to-day, his attention to detail. His leadership on the field and off. The way he carries himself. 

"He's right at the top of the 'example' guys, where you point to him and say, 'Do everything like Mike.' He set the standard for the receiver room, for the offense, and for the team. 

"He's very special to all of us, particularly to me. We've had great talks over the years. You won't find a more high-caliber individual in all of college sports. I know Mike's future is bright on the field and bright off it. I'm just grateful to have had him on our team for the time that we had him."

"Nobody's given more of himself to this football team, to his teammates, to his staff, than Mike." 

As for the possibility of a return by the end of the regular season or a bowl game, "He'll make the best decision for him, his health and his future," Shaw said. "And we will 100 percent support that, no matter what that is."
 
* * * 

AFTER STANFORD BEAT Notre Dame, 16-14, on Saturday, the smiles were not only for the victory, but for the progress the Cardinal has made in the past two weeks of a 2-4 start. 

"I'm proud of our team," Shaw said. "Everybody's scrapping and scratching and fighting to find ways to win football games."

Injuries to the offensive line continue to plague the Cardinal. Jack Leyrer, a sophomore who already was an injury replacement at tackle, is doubtful for the Arizona State game on Saturday at Stanford Stadium. Tackle Walter Rouse, guard Levi Rogers, and guard Barrett Miller were questionable early in the week for Arizona State. 

Freshman Fisher Anderson was thrust into action at left tackle in the fourth quarter at Notre Dame and performed admirably. 

"This year, we're deeper," Shaw said. "It's something we've worked on the last couple of years. The big thing for us is to recruit depth and to prepare those guys to play. We've had to do that in the secondary, at receiver, at running back. 

"It's part of big-time college football. Nobody's going to feel sorry for you if guys get hurt. Get guys ready and put them out there and trust them to go play and they've got to go play."
 
* * * 

FILKINS DIDN'T REALIZE he had so many carries, but it still was far short of the 45 he had in one game for Lake Oswego (Ore.) High. 

"I definitely felt it after the game," he said Tuesday. "I'm still pretty sore. It's just a matter of getting back to the swing of it. But, overall, I'm feeling great."

Filkins was injured for much of the summer and fall camp, which meant he had to build his strength and endurance as the season has progressed. It's worked so far. Filkins has proved to be durable. 

"That's credit to the strength staff and our trainers," he said. "They've been taking great care of me."
 
* * * 
 

Ethan Bonner. Photo by Bob Drebin/ISIphotos.com.

THE DEFENSE HAS dialed up pressure a little more in recent weeks, which seems to help in the overall scheme. 

"We definitely wanted to go into games a little bit more aggressive," cornerback Ethan Bonner said. "We felt like our secondary's been playing really well, we just wanted to put a little bit more pressure on the quarterback. Playing a little bit more Cover-Zero and One-Highs is something that we've kind of gotten into more. 

"We're a heavy man-coverage team. Me and (fellow cornerback) Kyu Blu Kelly are one-on-one most of the game on the edges. That's something we're used to and we embrace that. That's just part of our personality. We accept the challenge." 

Stephen Herron had two sacks and forced a fumble against the Irish. Shaw said that even though Stanford wants to be aggressive with its defensive playcalling, Herron was just as much of a force as part of a regular four-man rush rather than through blitz packages. 

"Part of it is our game planning as well as our execution of the game plan," Shaw said. "The players have got to go out there and do it, and that's been an emphasis for us the past few weeks, just being more aggressive. More aggressive in our playcalling – offense, defense, special teams. More aggressive in our play by each individual."
 
* * * 

THE 1 P.M. START comes as relief to the Cardinal, which has played two 8 p.m. games and two at 7:30 local time. Stanford's earliest start this season was 4:30 p.m., for USC. 

"I've been begging and pleading for weeks now to play football during the day," Shaw said. "We're all excited about it, and hopefully this isn't the last one of these we'll have over the course of the year." 

It's good timing. On Reunion Weekend, the 1 p.m. start allows for better planning of activities. 

Stanford traditionally played home games around 1 p.m., until TV began to dictate game times.

Stanford Stadium didn't have permanent lights until 2000, and the $1 million cost was paid for by Fox Sports, which also paid for lights at Cal's Memorial Stadium the same year. 

It's believed that the first night events at Stanford Stadium were the handful of men's soccer matches under temporary lighting during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

 

Action from the first game at Stanford Stadium under permanent lights, vs. San Jose State on Sept. 9, 2000. Photo by David Gonzales. 
 
* * * 

SHAW, THE NCAA Rules Committee chair, is in his final year in that role. He will leave that post with one regret – a proposed rule change that hasn't happened. 

"The rule change at the top of my books is something that I have not been able to do that I thought I was going to be able to do in the last few years, and that's remove the umpire. 

"The umpire is in the way.

"They affect more games negatively than they do positively. It's not their fault, it's just a game that is different than when we first put the umpire there. A lot of crossing routes, a lot of RPO's, a lot of hurry-up tempo. 

"I have an edit -- I've cut it down to 50 plays, but it used to be 80 plays over the course of 10 years -- where the official has either gotten in the way of a pass, deflected a pass, gotten in the way of a receiver where a defender now gets an interception, gotten in the way of the defender so the receiver gets a clean run … There's so many opportunities for that umpire to affect the game negatively. 

"He's there to look at line play, but we have two officials in the back who can see offensive and defensive holding. 

"We need to remove that umpire. I haven't been quiet about that. It's something I've been trying to get done and haven't been able to get done."

One example came during the Oregon game, when Stanford safety Patrick Fields was prevented from making a play by the umpire and then was penalized for arguing about it. 
 
* * * 

IN CONTEXT OF the team's recent struggles, Shaw was asked whether the Notre Dame victory was among his most 'satisfying' as Stanford coach.

"I don't know if 'satisfying' is the word," Shaw said. "Maybe 'necessary.' Maybe 'desired' or 'needed.' That's tough to say. I wouldn't want to disrespect any other team or any other victories. I know this football team worked really hard the past two weeks to right a lot of different things. 

"As much as anything, I'm happy they got to see the fruits of their labor."