Talked to Stanford cornerback Richard Sherman for a story that will run with the Pac-10 preview on Monday, but I had a couple of extra quotes worth noting.
Stanford's defense has struggled against the pass of late -- it was the Cardinal's main weakness in 2009. A switch to a 3-4 might help, but because practices are closed, it's hard to say how things look. So I asked Sherman about the pass defense, and he said:
"We're limiting a lot of things. We haven't given up nearly as many big plays in this camp as we did last year. Guys are more experienced on the back end, so you're able to recognize more."
I also asked him about quarterback Andrew Luck, who was a redshirt freshman playing in the shadow of Toby Gerhart in 2009. Now Luck is a national star. I asked Sherman if Luck is different this year. He said:
"He has more of a leadership presence. It's difficult to be as much of a leader when you're a redshirt freshman, but this year he has a presence about him. He commands respect from everyone of us."
Sherman's own situation is interesting. He is a converted receiver who owns seven touchdown receptions, which is more than any other player on the Stanford roster. The fifth-year senior -- he's already graduated --also has a chance to make some all-conference noise this fall as a breakout player. Moreover, he's got the sort of size that might intrigue NFL scouts -- 6-foot-3, 192 pounds -- who favor big corners, though at this point he mostly projects as a late-round pick or a free agent.
He ranked fourth on the Cardinal with 62 tackles and had two interceptions, one of which -- stolen from USC's Matt Barkley -- he returned 43 yards for a TD. That did not, however, count as one of his TD receptions.