Pac 12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff addresses the media on NCAA basketball media day on Tue Oct 12, 2021 in San Francisco. Kliavkoff said recently that he had expected playoff expansion would increase league revenue but with UCLA and USC leaving that could change the revenue picture quickly (AP file photo)
On the Pac 12 podcast with Jerry F:
#1 Pac 12 college presidents and chancellors Friday gave the Pac 12 the nod to “explore all expansion options” after UCLA and USC decision to move to the Big Ten.
#2 The Pac 12 presidents said they are committed to upgrading the Pac 12 for the excellence of the students athletes. With UCLA and USC leaving there is no doubt it leaves a huge void.
#3 LA is a huge TV market second in the nation it’s a big task to replace a USC and UCLA and the Pac 12 as of yesterday are not sure where to start looking.
#4 As of Friday’s announcement the Pac 12 colleges are not only scrambling to replace USC and UCLA but Washington and Oregon are also considering joining the Big Ten what impact will that further on the Pac 12 to lose the Huskies and Ducks.
#5 The loss of USC and UCLA not only impacts the football and basketball programs but all the other sports as well and some of the rivalries as well. The Pac 12 has also suffered in it’s TV Network as well in recent years.
With last season’s top receivers JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Trenton Irwin and Kaden Smith departed, Stanford needs youngsters such as Connor Wedington, Michael Wilson and Colby Parkinson to step up.
They did Saturday in No. 25 Stanford’s season-opening 17-7 victory against Northwestern at Stanford Stadium.
Wedington secured a team-high seven receptions, Wilson had six and Parkinson had four. Wedington and Wilson showcased their quickness and athletic ability on quick sideline throws from K.J. Costello and Davis Mills, breaking tackles against single coverage.
“We wanted to take the pressure off the quarterbacks,” said David Shaw, the Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football. “We have to take advantage of their off-coverage and give those guys a chance. It was probably the most tackles we’ve broken since Ty Montgomery and Doug Baldwin and those guys.”
The 6-foot Wedington, a junior, is a former running back and appeared in only four games last year due to injury. Wilson, a 6-foot-2-inch sophomore who Shaw calls “a complete receiver,” demonstrated his potential a year ago by grabbing 14 passes in 13 games.
“We have threats all over the field,” said fifth-year senior running back Cameron Scarlett.
Wilson scored the first Cardinal touchdown on a four-yard pass from Costello late in the second quarter. The play was installed earlier in the week, with Costello faking a handoff to Scarlett running left, then rolling right and finding Wilson in the flat.
“Coach said there is going to be one man you have to beat or it’s going to be a race to the pylon,” said Wilson.
It turned out to be the latter — Wilson stretching the ball over the goal line.
He said the extra work the receivers and quarterbacks put in during the offseason is paying off.
“We’ve got guys that can go,” Wilson said. “Brycen (Tremayne), Connor, Simi (Fehoko), Osiris (St. Brown). “We’re all going to play a big role and I’m really excited about this year.”
Getting defensive: Stanford suffocated Northwestern in the first half, limiting the Wildcats to 79 yards on 21 plays and only seven minutes in time of possession. Northwestern didn’t reach the Stanford side of the field until late in the second quarter.
With that said Stanford out-gained Northwestern, 365-210, and finished with a nearly 17-minute time of possession advantage.
“It was a lot of fun out there flying around with the guys,” said senior inside linebacker Andrew Pryts, who intercepted his first pass in his first start. “We had great energy and can feed off that all year.”
The unit produced four takeaways and sealed the game with 20 seconds remaining when fifth-year senior outside linebacker Casey Toohill and senior outside linebacker Jordan Fox blasted Wildcat quarterback Hunter Johnson, who fumbled. Fox recovered in the end zone for a touchdown.
“We knew they were trying to go down the field to pick up something,” Fox said. “We pinned our ears back and just let it go. Casey made a great first hit on him. I just tried to find the ball. It was a great way to finish the game on the defensive side of the ball. It was high effort all day.”
On its first possession of the third quarter, Northwestern drove to the Cardinal five-yard line, but Robinson and sophomore strong safety Kendall Williamson sacked quarterback TJ Green and forced a fumble, and Williamson recovered at the nine-yard line.
“Our rush was really getting there, and he was just trying to get out of the pocket,” said Williamson. “I saw him spin off a couple guys and just went and pursued it. I really wish I would have scooped and scored, but it was a turnover.”
Many players received their first extended playing time and made it count.
“It was great being out there,” Williamson said. “I got to play with a lot of people in my class who redshirted last year and came up big. I just loved how we were attacking.”
Mills steps in: After settling into a nice rhythm, a sliding Costello sustained a blow to the head by Northwestern defensive end Earnest Brown IV on a scramble with two seconds remaining in the half. Brown was called for a personal foul, and Costello walked to the locker room and didn’t return, completing 16-of-20 passes for 152 yards.
Shaw declined to comment when asked if targeting should have been called. “I didn’t see it live,” Shaw said.
Mills, a junior who redshirted in 2017 and saw brief action in one game last season, played the rest of the way and finished 7-of-14 for 81 yards.
“It was a dogfight for most of the game and our defense played extremely well to keep us on top,” said Mills.
After a strong fall camp, Mills was excited to contribute to the win.
“It definitely builds confidence,” Mills said.
Said Shaw, “He can make all the throws and is athletic enough to get out in scrambles for positive yards. If K.J. is healthy, he’ll go back out there (Saturday against USC). He’s our leader and captain. And if he’s not healthy, we have all the faith and confidence that Davis can go out there and win the game.”
Big rush: Shaw was especially pleased with the Cardinal running game, led by Scarlett’s career-high 97 yards on 22 carries.
“Give Cam Scarlett the credit,” said Shaw. “We challenged him after the bowl game last year. Multiple times today we had a running back one-on-one with a guy in space.”
Stanford rushed 39 times for 132 yards.
“We can’t block everything perfectly, especially against a really good, big, physical defense,” Shaw said. “I thought our running backs ran through the trash.”
Early contributions: Seven freshmen saw action for Stanford — running backs Austin Jones and Nathaniel Peat, wide receiver Elijah Higgins, cornerback Kyu Blu Kelly, safety Jonathan McGill, punter Ryan Sanborn and offensive tackle Walter Rouse.
Extra motivation: Chris Marinelli, an All-American offensive tackle in 2009, served as Stanford’s honorary captain. His father, Jim, was a member of the Local 88, Tunnel Workers Union in Braintree, Massachusetts, for more than 30 years. Chris and his fellow offensive linemen nicknamed themselves the Tunnel Workers Union and the nickname remains in tact.
“It’s an analogy that fits perfectly for the offensive line because we need to open holes and grind no matter how we feel,” said Chris, who made 41 starts during his Cardinal career. “It’s just about having that blue-collar attitude.”
Marinelli gave a stirring motivational speech to the team on Friday night and it carried over Saturday. His father passed away on June 30 at age 60 from cancer.
“It was super impactful for us,” said junior center Drew Dalman. “We still kind of live by the Tunnel Workers Union credo and hopefully for many years to come. We just wanted to make him proud and show him what we could do.”
Shaw heard players talking about the Tunnel Workers Union in the fourth quarter.
“They were running it and being physical,” Shaw said. “Chris put something in their heads and we really started churning.”
Up next: Stanford begins Pac-12 play on Saturday when it travels to Los Angeles to tackle the USC Trojans at 7:30 p.m. in a contest that will be broadcast by ESPN. Stanford prevailed at home last year, 17-3, and has won four of the last six meetings.
The Trojans opened the season by beating Fresno State on Saturday night, 31-23.
Shaw’s teams have swept USC, UCLA and Cal three of the last four years and six of the last nine.
Notes: Starting offensive tackle Walker Little sustained a late injury and his status in unknown … Toohill led the Cardinal with six tackles, including one sack, two tackles for loss and forced a fumble … Seven Stanford players recorded four or more stops … Stanford has won 12 straight home openers and 21 consecutive non-conference games on home turf … All-American cornerback Paulson Adebo pilfered his first pass of the season … Jet Toner booted a career-best 51-yard field goal to end the first half. The last Stanford kicker to convert from 50-plus yards was Conrad Ukropina, who hit from 52 against Oregon State in 2016 … Former Cardinal standout Richard Sherman, now a starting cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers, attended the game and was recognized as Stanford celebrates its 125th season of football … The next home game for the Cardinal is September 21 against Oregon, time TBD. The 2019 Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame Class, which includes running back/linebacker Bill Tarr ’55, will be recognized.
Many new faces on defense are expected to make contributions on Saturday when No. 25 Stanford hosts Northwestern at Stanford Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Even before spring practice, the unit began jelling in the film room and during voluntary workouts. New leaders emerged and reminded underclassmen about the program’s high standards.
“Absolutely,” said senior inside linebacker Andrew Pryts. “That’s been a theme of ours. The individuals in our locker room only care about team success. We’ve developed that mentality that we’re all in this together and we’re going to pursue the ball 11 guys at a time.”
Senior free safety Malik Antoine started 11 games in 2018 and is the veteran of the secondary. Voted one of five captains by his peers, Antoine likes the energy and attention to detail he has seen and expects Stanford to surprise people.
“We have a lot of guys emerging, like Kendall Williamson, Noah Williams, J.J. Parson and Stuart Head,” Antoine said. “We spent a lot of time together watching tape and on the field.”
Both contributed to added confidence and communication, which will be critical on Saturday when the No. 25 Cardinal hosts Northwestern in its season opener at 1 p.m. at Stanford Stadium.
“The first game of the year, you really don’t know what will happen,” said Antoine. “That communication serves as the calmness in the game.”
It hasn’t gone unnoticed by David Shaw, the Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football.
“It is loud, it’s clear and it is crisp,” Shaw said. “They are on the same page every single play and I think our team feeds off that.”
Lance Anderson, the Willie Shaw Director of Defense and Associate Head Coach, has been impressed by the grit and unselfishness demonstrated by his entire group.
“There’s a lot of guys who don’t have egos and just want to go out and do their job,” Anderson said. “I think it’s a reflection of the leadership group, especially Casey Toohill and Malik.”
In addition to new starters, many younger players could see action in certain packages and situations. If they impress, it could result in expanded playing time.
“We’re going out to play well,” said Anderson. “I don’t think any of us will be satisfied with anything less. Our expectations haven’t changed.”
Pryts believes Stanford will be ready.
“A lot of less experienced guys have been stepping up and playing good ball throughout camp,” Pryts said. “We’re excited. There are a lot of guys who can’t wait to go out and play.”
Antoine is anxious to see how they respond.
“This could be a four-quarter game,” said Antoine. “I just want to see how we fight.”
RECOGNIZING LUCK: Shaw coached Andrew Luck for four years and watched him throw for 9,430 yards (No. 2 in program history), 82 touchdowns (No. 1) and compile a completion percentage of .670 (No. 1). They visited just before the Cardinal began fall camp and Luck sounded excited to start his eighth season with the Indianapolis Colts.
Like many others, Shaw was surprised when Luck announced his retirement from the NFL last week.
“This guy was going to play the game at the highest level for as long as he could,” Shaw said. “But he’s also going to be one of those guys that wants life after football as much as he wants life with football. He came to that point much earlier than many of us anticipated or wanted, but he came to that point where it was time for him to stop for his health, his family and his future, and I applaud him for it.”
Asked if any memories of Luck stood out during his time on The Farm, Shaw said, “We could spend the next two hours talking about those four years. There’s so many for me, and many are not on the football field. Unbelievably competitive and talented, but also a great leader and a great teammate.”
K.J. Costello grew up a USC fan until he watched Luck play. His star power helped persuade Costello to visit Stanford and eventually commit to the Cardinal.
“I was fortunate enough to have lunch with him about three months ago,” Costello said. “I was huge fan growing up and he’s one of the main reasons why I decided to leave Southern California and come up here. Look at what he did here; nobody is ever going to touch what he did. He won a lot of football games and set the standard.”
ADEBO ISLAND: Cornerback Paulson Adebo had a sensational sophomore season in 2018 as a first-year player. He led the country with 24 passes defended, 20 pass breakups and four interceptions.
Shaw thinks he’s raised his game.
“Regardless of the stats, I think he’s a better football player this year,” Shaw said. “Smart, more versatile, more experienced. He’s been through a lot and loves to be pushed. He’s set his own standards.”
Anderson echoed Shaw’s sentiments.
“For all the individual accolades he gets, he still works harder than anybody,” said Anderson.
NORTHWESTERN NOTES: Last year, the Wildcats (9-5, 8-1) won the Big Ten West Division, and another solid season is expected.
“They’ve got a defensive line coming in that is big, long, physical and they play with relentless effort and great technique,” Shaw said. “They’re very versatile on the offensive side and use different tempos and different schemes. They’ve got two really good quarterbacks and who knows who’s going to start.”
Senior TJ Green appeared in nine games last season, while sophomore Hunter Johnson sat out after transferring from Clemson. In 2016, Johnson was named Mr. Football in Indiana.
Shaw expects both to play.
Isaiah Bowser rushed for 866 yards and six touchdowns last year as a true freshman. Shaw said he breaks tackles, is tough and faster than he looks.
“The biggest thing for us is to concentrate on our assignments, techniques and our effort,” Bowser said.
UPCOMING SCHEDULE: The Cardinal has no breathers in 2019 and has the hardest non-conference slate in the land, playing Northwestern, at UCF and Notre Dame. That’s in addition to nine Pac-12 games.
“I think that’s a question for after the season,” said Shaw. “Right now, we’ve got one game to play. All the schedule stuff for me stopped last week.”
HOME CROWD: As has often been the case, Stanford will play home games before school starts on Sept. 23. That limits student attendance for the season opener, but Antoine hopes a noisy crowd will cheer on the Cardinal against Northwestern and Oregon on Sept. 21.
“We’ve kind of gotten used to that,” Antoine said. “We say we don’t need added motivation and let our play do the talking. At the same time, we love and appreciate our fans and hope they come out in force.”
Lots going on Saturday at Stanford Stadium!
🌲 Cardinal Kids Day 🌲 Educators Appreciation Day 🌲 Band Day
EXTRA ENTRIES: Running back Trevor Speights and strong safety Stuart Head won’t play Saturday, but Shaw expects everyone else to be available … Freshmen running backs Austin Jones and Nathaniel Peat made good impressions in fall camp and could see action … Freshman Walter Rouse also has a chance to play and is backing up both offensive tackle spots … Freshmen cornerback Kyu Blu Kelly and punter Ryan Sanborn will likely make their college debuts … Stanford will have 22 double numbers this season.
QUOTE: “We’ve got a bunch of guys we’re going to roll out Saturday that haven’t played a lot of college football. We expect them to play hard and play fast, do their jobs, and do them well.” — David Shaw
One of the biggest question marks entering spring practice was whether reduced hitting would delay the development of young and inexperienced Stanford Cardinal football players heading into fall camp.
After watching last Saturday’s Cardinal and White Spring Game, that doesn’t seem to be the case for the team.
Bodies were flying around Cagan Stadium, especially on defense, who recorded a 20-14 win by limiting the offense to two touchdowns. The defense recorded four sacks against four quarterbacks and played aggressively throughout.
“I like where our defensive backs and young linebackers are right now,” said David Shaw, the Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football.
Due to injuries, especially on the offensive line, Shaw and his staff chose to limit physical contact and focus on technique and individual skill development this spring.
“We played fast and hard,” said freshman inside linebacker Ricky Miezan, who hopes to contend for one of two spots created by the departure of mainstays Bobby Okereke and Sean Barton. “All the work we put in this spring manifested itself.”
Miezan and Jacob Mangum-Farrar are expected to battle converted outside linebacker Curtis Robinson, Andrew Pryts and Ryan Beecher for inside playing time.
“In the fall, I picked up so much from Bobby and Sean,” Miezan said. “The older guys kind of mentored us into what a Stanford linebacker is.”
For the record, Okereke led the team with 96 tackles each of the last two seasons.
“Not having as many live periods definitely helped, just focusing in on us and building the inside linebackers,” said Miezan. “We haven’t had that much game experience, so we have been focusing on techniques. We need to start with the basics and build from there.”
The nation’s third-ranked high school lacrosse player, the Alexandria, Va., native, didn’t play football until his junior year, but caught on quickly. As a senior, he made 55 tackles and earned all-state honors.
“I was a midfielder, so the back and forth running really helped with conditioning,” he said. “I feel I can stay out and endure a lot of plays and stay fresh. Lacrosse really helped with my side-to-side movement and agility.”
As a true freshman last season, Miezan appeared in four Cardinal games on special teams. He quickly learned that skill does always translate to success.
“You can be a great athlete, but you need to know the scheme to be able to go out there and play,” said Miezan. “That’s the number one thing: hone-in on the details and understand what you’re doing so you can play fast.”
Several young receivers stood out this spring, notably Connor Wedington, Michael Wilson and Simi Fehoko. Wedington was limited by injuries last year and appeared in four games and redshirted, while the 6’2″ Wilson played in all 13 contests with two starts, catching 14 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns. The 6’4″ Fehoko returned after a two-year church mission and saw action in the last four games, grabbing one reception.
“It’s been so good to finally get back on the field and play the game I love,” said Fehoko, who teamed up with K.J. Costello for a 19-yard touchdown catch Saturday on a short crossing route.
“We’re young but we’re talented.”
Big contributions are also expected from Osiris St. Brown, Donald Stewart and Brycen Tremayne.
“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Shaw, looking to replace JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Trenton Irwin. “Michael and Connor had outstanding springs. Simi started off with an injury but was able to come back. I think the combination of guys we have right now is pretty exciting.”
So does cornerback Paulson Adebo. As a first-year starter, he led the nation with 24 passes defended and earned FWAA All-America second team.
“We have a chance to let them loose and do some good things,” he said of the Stanford wideouts. “We didn’t get to see that much of Connor last year, but I think he’s going to do some big things.”
Costello and the other quarterbacks spent extra time after practice working with the receivers to improve timing and chemistry. That will continue during voluntary workouts the next few months.
Fehoko and Costello have a long-standing connection.
“All the way back to high school,” said Fehoko. “We played in the Army All-American Game together. We’re close and we’re going to get there.”
Added Costello, “The second half of last season, every guy on the field, every route they ran, I just had insane confidence.”
Admittedly, it’s a process.
“Even with JJ, I remember barely missing on stuff for a year-and-a-half,” Costello said. “I’m going to do everything I can to help them develop. I want success from one-on-one and seven-on-seven to correlate to the team.”
Not satisfied Adebo intercepted one pass and nearly had another in the spring game.
“I gotta finish the second one,” he said.
After establishing himself as one of the top cornerbacks in the country last year, Adebo is looking to step up his game.
“I think the big thing for me is just trying to keep being aggressive, having good eye control, and knowing that there are going to be a lot of double moves since I’m jumping routes,” he said.
Running backs, tight ends praised Shaw singled out his running backs for their work this spring. A new starter is assured with the loss of Bryce Love.
“I like the way they are running right now,” he said, “there are a lot of things we worked on that we didn’t do (Saturday), but our guys are running hard.
“I think we used our tight ends well. Maybe not like we typically do, but our tight ends are in a good spot. I told them I really appreciate all they have done. I told them to execute and that’s what we did.”
Sense of urgency Fall training camp begins August 1 and the season opener is August 31 against the Northwestern Wildcats at Stanford Stadium. The Wildcats (9-5) were Big Ten West Division champs last year and capped their season by winning the Holiday Bowl 31-20 over the Utah Utes.
The Cardinal opens Pac-12 play at perennial rival USC on Sept. 7, then travels to Orlando to face UCF, who has lost one game in two years.
“Our offense needs to be ready to go by day one,” Costello said. “Last year, I feel like we started late. We got into a groove the last half of the season. If we can do that for the bulk of the season, everything else will take care of itself.”
Good stick Costello, a scratch golfer, found time after the season to sharpen his game. He fired a career-best 3-under-par 69 at California Golf Club in South San Francisco.
Costello is a big fan of Cardinal alum Tiger Woods, who earned his 15th major championship on Sunday at the Masters. Costello was glued to his television.
.@kj_costello got to meet Tiger Woods during his freshman year…well, kinda.
Stanford was short on offensive lineman this spring so Drew Dalman, Henry Hattis, Grant Pease, Dylan Powell and Foster Sarell played every down in the Spring Game. The team needed each of them on every play to make the game possible and they delivered. Tucker Fisk also played a key role for the offensive line as he filled in when needed during spring practices.
Among the former players who attended the Spring Game to lend support were Toby Gerhart, Kevin Hogan, Brennan Scarlett, Frank Buncom, Kaden Smith, Trenton Irwin, Nate Herbig, Keller Chryst, Jake Bailey, Arcega-Whiteside, Okereke and Nick Wilson.
Many attended an alumni networking social the previous night. Gerhart, enrolled at Stanford Graduate School of Business, arrived wearing cleats and had gloves hanging out of his back pocket. He left early to play in an intramural football game for his GSB team.
The Stanford Cardinal rebounded form the trouncing they took Monday night at the hands of Brigham Young University. The BYU Cougars shredded the Stanford defense and the Cardinal was looking to turn things around Thursday night at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal did just that as they played a very stout defense and they beat the Northwestern Wildcats 71-58. The Cardinal improved to 2-1 for the season and Northwestern, coached by first year head coach Chris Collins, dropped to 1-1. Collins is the son of former NBA star Doug Collins.
The first half was very close. The half ended with Stanford holding a slim two point lead 29-27.
The Cardinal was paced by center Stefan Nastic who had eight points and Chasson Randle added seven and forward Josh Huestis pitched in with five. The Wildcats were led by Drew Crawford who had thirteen points and four rebounds. Stanford’s Dwight Powell committed two personal fouls early in the first half and was on the bench for the rest of the period.
The second half belonged to Stanford. The Cardinal went on a 6-0 run to take a 41-32 lead with 12:46 left to play. Stanford kept increasing the lead as their defense shut down Northwestern. The Cardinal
continued to play well and had a seventeen point lead halfway through the second half. Northwestern made a run and closed the gap to nine but Stanford put on the pressure and coasted to a 71-58 victory.
The star of the game was Josh Heustis. Heustis, a senior from Great Fall, Montana, scored eighteen points. Anthony Brown had twelve, Stefan Nastic added eleven, while Chasson Randle, who had thirty-three Monday against BYU, was held to fourteen and Dwight Powell, who had twenty-eight Monday,
scored just eight points. JerShon Cobb and Drew Crawford were the stars for Northwestern.
Notes- Stanford plays its first road game of the year Sunday night when the meet Denver University
in Denver. The next home game is next Thursday when they face Texas Southern at 7pm at Maples Pavilion.