- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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While so much attention has been given to the Stanford quarterback situation, it's worth noting that the offensive line is still a bit of a rebuilding project.
But so far, head coach David Shaw said he's been pleased with some of his true freshmen offensive linemen -- specifically how they performed in the Cardinal's 50-13 win over Duke.
"They played very well," Shaw said. "Andrus Peat had his best day as a Stanford Cardinal on game day. He was outstanding. Kyle Murphy, I thought was off the charts too. Josh [Garnett] played very well, but I think the two tackles played extremely well and we're looking forward to getting those guys even more acclimated to college football and giving them more opportunities."
Those freshmen up front will be indoctrinated into Stanford's rivalry with USC this weekend when the No. 2 Trojans come to town. And Shaw has zero hesitation about playing them against a USC rush defense that is third in the conference -- but still considerably untested.
"No hesitation. Those guys have earned the right," Shaw said. "They understand their roles and we're still spoon-feeding them to a certain degree because we do a lot. We let them do what they've shown us they can do and that's expanding every week. Those guys have shown nastiness and athletic ability and they've shown the aptitude to handle what we give them. They are difference-makers up front and the way we need to run the ball and pass protect, we need to have guys like that on the field."
Stanford's defense also got a boost with the return of middle linebacker Shayne Skov -- who played his first game against the Blue Devils since injuring his knee in Week 3 last season at Arizona. Skov, who also was suspended for Week 1 because of an offseason DUI arrest, had five tackles and broke up a pass in his first game back. How close was he to the old Skov?
"Very close," Shaw said. "He ran extremely well, which is what I was waiting to see -- if he was going to be favoring the leg a little bit ... We were wondering about his conditioning. His conditioning looked good. We still spelled him with other linebackers that have played extremely well, but he showed flashes of being that same Shayne Skov."
5hChantel Jennings and David Lombardi