Stanford head coach David Shaw pulled the curtain back ever so slightly on his quarterback competition, revealing not what he's looking for, but what he's not looking for in Andrew Luck's successor.
"They know the quickest way for those guys to lose the competition is to try to be Andrew," Shaw said. "That will lose someone the competition."
This has been a different spring for Shaw, who took over following Jim Harbaugh's exodus to the NFL and had the best quarterback in nation already in place. Shaw had helped develop Luck as Harbaugh's offensive coordinator, and knew there wasn't much tweaking required. This year's crop presents a fun, albeit different, challenge for the former NFL quarterbacks coach.
"There were a couple of times where I had to grab them and get my hands on them," Shaw said. "Some of those young guys are like clay and you get a chance to mold them. It was fun. It was enjoyable.
"The only thing that would be more enjoyable [will be] when someone takes the job and we plant them in there and give them a chance to play. It was completely different. It was different working with a battle for the back-up quarterback job to the best quarterback in the nation as opposed to battling for the starting job."
Still, no matter whether it's Brett Nottingham or Josh Nunes who emerges as Stanford's starting quarterback, there are going to be expectations to maintain the success Stanford has enjoyed the past few years.
"I'm not going to lie, there is still an Andrew Luck hangover going on down here in Palo Alto," Shaw said. "But we have some athletic, smart, accurate quarterbacks that understand what we do. ... Their job is to be efficient. Their job is to hand the ball to Stepfan Taylor and Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson. To find Levine Toilolo and Zach Ertz and give Ty Montgomery a chance to play.
"As we always talk about, the quarterback's job here is to deal the cards. Get it to the playmakers. Make sure the offense runs efficiently. And the guy that does that the best will be the guy that starts."
In other Stanford news:
Linebacker Shayne Skov is on schedule with his rehabilitation from a season-ending knee injury suffered in Week 3 last season against Arizona. Shaw said he expects Skov to be ready by the start of fall camp, but they will keep a close eye on him. Some are already predicting Skov as a first-round pick in next year's NFL draft.
"We'll be very smart with him, getting into the more physical practices, just to make sure," Shaw said. "Shayne doesn't have to prove to me that he can play the game of football; Shayne has to prove to me that he's healthy. We're not going to put him in those potentially damaging situations until we know he's 100 percent ready to go. So early in training camp we'll take care of him. We'll watch him the first couple of days of pads. If there are no setbacks, we'll release him for complete, full-go activity. I expect him to play up to the level of his ability."