Yankey, O-line, coming around


PALO ALTO, Calif. -- It was center Sam Schartzstein who jumped off the film and into Stanford coach David Shaw's good graces following Week 1 against San Jose State.

Last week, against Duke, it was offensive guard David Yankey who made the proverbial big leap between Weeks 1 and 2. And Shaw didn't hesitate to praise the 6-5, 300-pound redshirt freshman.

"David Yankey played a very, very good game," Shaw said. "Pretty much one bad play early in the game and the rest of the game was very, very good. I'm very pleased with him."

The offensive line, with three new starters this season, has been, and will be a point of interest all through the year. The loss of All-American center Chase Beeler, guard Andrew Phillips and tackle Derek Hall, both Pac-10 honorable mention, was perhaps the biggest question marks going into the season.

Against Duke, the new guys got their first taste of delayed blitzes -- something the Blue Devils hadn't shown on film. And it caught the rookies off guard in the first half.

"I believe after this game we'll be prepared for that for the rest of the season," Shaw said. "... We said it in the beginning, we knew we were starting two redshirt freshmen [Yankey and tackle Cameron Fleming]. We know Game 5 they are going to be better than they were Game 1. Every game is going to be taking another step with these two young guys."

Yankey took his coach's praise in stride.

"It's nice, but I still have a long way to go," said Yankey, who was born in Australia and raised in Georgia. "Playing next to Moose (Jonathan) Martin and David DeCastro just shows me how far I have to go. These are just minimal leaps. But it's still nice to hear."

Shaw said he thought the line play, overall, was better than against San Jose State. Fleming didn't make as big a jump as Yankey, Shaw said. But noted, overall, he thought Fleming played better.

Yankey said he and the rest of the line take responsibility for not responding quick enough to Duke's delayed stunts. It's an experience and communication issue that he expects will improve as the new line grows together.

"I'm glad we made the corrections in the second half," he said. "But honestly, you have to be ready for it in the first place. We're coached to respond to everything and be prepared. But we picked it up and got better as the game went on."

While the line was figuring out Duke's scheme, quarterback Andrew Luck took more hits than his linemen were comfortable with. That was also a concern for Shaw.

"I would love for him never to get touched," Shaw said. "The bottom line is, that's what I love about him. He doesn't care. But we care a lot. He says 'Coach, I'll stand in there.' At the same time, it's a big reason why we need to be balanced so we don't play against pass rushers all game."