The countdown of five things we learned from the first half of Stanford spring practice begins.
No. 5: The offensive line is set
With four starters from the offensive line gone from last season's team, there was a lot of buzz about what players would step in. It was easy to assign the favorites for those jobs, but by the first open practice -- the team's third overall -- it was obvious the coaching staff wasn't conducting a competition as much as it was preparing its starting five.
Left tackle Andrus Peat is the only true starter back, but both guard Joshua Garnett and tackle Kyle Murphy have seem extensive playing time over the past two seasons in the Cardinal's packages with extra linemen. One of the unknowns was which side Garnett would play, but coach David Shaw made it clear he likes him at left guard -- David Yankey's old spot -- if for nothing else than because the Peat-Garnett side will instantly become one of the most imposing in college football. A competition at right tackle to replace Cameron Fleming, who left early for the NFL, wasn't even discussed. Murphy is the starter.
Graham Shuler at center and Johnny Caspers at the other guard spot was assumed going in, but Shaw confirmed both guys are expected to win those jobs. During the open practices, Shuler made an impression as a vocal leader, and Caspers clearly fits the Stanford mold as an athletic guard that can get out in space.
The second open practice included a significant amount of scrimmage time, but drawing conclusions from those can be misleading. Defense dominated the day, but because there wasn't any elaborate offensive scheming and the defensive players have a decent understanding of the offense's checks and calls, that means very little. Individually, each offensive lineman had their moments, and the new crop hasn't done anything to dispel the notion that the offensive line will remain one of the team's strengths.