Luck's replacement far from settled

December, 13, 2011
12/13/11
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Don't expect Stanford to come out of spring ball with a starting quarterback, or go into fall camp with a starting quarterback, for that matter. Finding Andrew Luck's replacement will be a painstaking process, head coach David Shaw said, that probably won't be settled until a couple of weeks before the 2012 season kicks off.

"It's going to be a lengthy competition that you guys are going to want to hear about after each day," Shaw said. "But it's not going to bear any fruit, I'm sure, until a couple of weeks before our first game. We're going to draw it out and get as much data as we can on every single guy and let it play out."

One thing is for sure, the guy who replaces arguably the greatest quarterback in school history, is not going to have the otherworldly workload that the Stanford coaches heaped upon Luck.

[+] EnlargeStanford's Brett Nottingham
Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty ImagesStanford's Brett Nottingham saw the field in four games this season as Andrew Luck's backup.
"I wouldn't say the job has changed, I would say we've been ridiculously spoiled for three years," Shaw said. "All of the guys we have are really good and could start in a lot of places this year -- even the young guys -- they are good enough to start some place. When Andrew plays his last game -- after I'm done wiping my tears -- we just put what Andrew did off to the side and say 'that was that, and now here's what we need from you guys.'

"Let's bring the expectations way down, as we should, and let them earn whatever expectations we have for them with what they do in the field. There's no carryover, at all. We're starting ground one. Whoever is our starting quarterback next year will be a first-time starter in college football and we're going to protect him as such."

The preseason frontrunner will be Brett Nottingham by virtue of him winning the back-up role to Luck this season. But if we learned anything from the past few months, it's that preseason frontrunners don't always win.

Nottingham will be pushed by Josh Nunes and Robbie Picazo -- for starters -- plus bright freshmen who redshirted this season -- Kevin Hogan and Evan Crower.

Shaw said he likes what he's seen out of the two youngsters during weekly Friday scrimmages with the freshmen.

"We've seen why they are here," Shaw said. "Kevin Hogan, strong arm, really athletic, big kid. Tough. Physical. With Evan Crower, smooth, quick, accurate, very polished. He also has that unshakable confidence that you like in a quarterback that lets you feel good about him being in the huddle.

"They both have a lot to learn to catch up to Josh and Brett Nottingham. There is so much football they have to learn to catch up to those other guys. But athletically, I'm pleased with both of them."

Shaw said when he looks up and down his roster, he likes what he sees at the quarterback position, and isn't going out of his way this season to try and recruit another signal caller.

"If we brought one in, he'd have to be someone we can't pass up, which is still a possibility," Shaw said. "But we're not trying to bring another quarterback in. But if one of the top ones wants to come, we'll entertain him. We feel good about our quarterback situation right now."

Despite the surplus of raw talent, Shaw said he's not looking to do a quarterback rotation.

"We will be more than fair to the team by making sure that we find out everything we can about every one of these guys," Shaw said. "It's not just who's going to be the starter Day 1? It's who's going to be the second guy? Is there going to be somebody we have to play even if he doesn't start? All of those things are possibilities.

"I'm not a big fan of switching quarterbacks and doing that whole deal. But if there's a guy that can come in and do something a couple of times a game, hey, we do it at running back, we do it at receiver, we do it at tight end we do it at tackle. If the guy can come in and help us in some way, shape or form, I'm not adverse to doing that either."

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