Stanford offensive notes


STANFORD, Calif. -- Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton doesn't seem intent on creating schematic surprises this season. And why would he be? His starting quarterback is the best player in college football, he's got two first-team Pac-10 linemen coming back and his depth at running back and tight end is outstanding.

Sure, there will be some tweaks to the Cardinal offense based on some new personnel and Andrew Luck's extraordinary abilities, but Hamilton will retain the basics of what made the offense dominant in 2010.

"We're not trying to trick you," he said. "We want to challenge you. We want to impose our will on our opponents."

Some notes from our chat (includes input from head coach David Shaw).

  • Hamilton's best quote came when I asked him about goals for Luck this fall: "He was able to complete 70 percent of his passes last year. Our goal is for him to complete 100 percent of his passes."

  • As for competitions on the offensive line, Sam Schwartzstein owns a slight lead at center over Khalil Wilkes, and Kevin Danser -- an impressive finisher -- has emerged at left guard. The battle at right tackle between senior Tyler Mabry and redshirt freshmen Cameron Fleming and David Yankey is too close to call, with Shaw saying he's challenged them to fight harder to win the job instead of being content sharing it.

  • As for receiver depth after Chris Owusu and Griff Whalen, Jamal-Rashad Patterson, Jemari Roberts and Drew Terrell have each had their moments. Consistency is still an issue.

  • At backup QB, Josh Nunes is "starting to establish himself as potentially a big-time college football player when he gets the opportunity," Hamilton said. He leads Robbie Picazo, who missed action due to illness during the first spring session.

  • The backfield is deep. Hamilton called Stepfan Taylor "a stud. A good player we trust." Sophomore Anthony Wilkerson and Jeremy Stewart are the backups, while Tyler Gaffney is out of the loop for now playing baseball. So no changes in the pecking order.

  • Hamilton called Ryan Hewitt "Mr. Versatility." Hewitt is in line to replace Owen Marecic at fullback, but he'll play more of a hybrid FB/H-back role, in part because he's 6-foot-4.

  • Hamilton on Marecic: "Having been around professional and college players, Owen Marecic is one of the best football players I've ever seen."

  • Hamilton on his top two tight ends: "We expected Zach Ertz and Coby Fleener to have dominant years." Here's the funny thing: Sophomore Levine Toilolo, who is 6-foot-8, won the starting job in 2010 before blowing out his knee and he's still rehabbing. All three are NFL prospects at the position. "It's a good problem to have," Hamilton said of the depth.