Stanford Football: Patrick Skov

The countdown of Stanford's top 5 position battles begins today.

One position battle will be highlighted each day this week with spring practice set to begin on Feb. 24.

[+] EnlargeLee Ward
AP Photo/Rick ScuteriLee Ward got some starting experience at fullback this season and will be in competition with Patrick Skov in 2014.
No. 5: Fullback

Who to watch: Lee Ward, Patrick Skov, Daniel Marx

Outlook: File this in the "Only at Stanford" category. OK, maybe Stanford isn't the only school still using a fullback, but there are times, especially in the Pac-12, when it seems that way. Ryan Hewitt didn't make Stanford fans forget Owen Marecic when he took over the starting job in 2011, but that's only because Marecic has a special place in Stanford lore. Hewitt was without question among the nation's best fullbacks the last three years, evident by his selection as one of only two fullbacks in the Senior Bowl this season. The competition to replace him starts with Lee Ward and Patrick Skov, with true freshman Daniel Marx more likely destined for a redshirt season. Ward figures to have the leg up after starting in place of Hewitt when he was injured at the start of the season. Ward, who will be a fifth-year senior, was honored as the team's co-offensive player of the game against Arizona State on Sept. 21 and also contributed on special teams. If Skov doesn't win the job, he still figures to get some playing time going into his redshirt junior year. He played in 28 games over the past two seasons, mostly on special teams.

Player of the week: Pac-12

October, 7, 2013
With nearly 300 all-purpose yards and game-changing special teams play, it’s hard not to give the Pac-12 player of the week nod to Stanford wide receiver Ty Montgomery.

We are aware of the exploits of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota -- who has turned preseason Heisman hype into a reality with his dazzling weekly performances -- but Montgomery was every bit the game-changer against a legitimate top 20 team in Washington.

It started with his 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the game. We should also give credit to Lee Ward (No. 36 when you watch the replay), Patrick Skov (24), Joe Hemschoot (40) and Jackson Cummings (23) for the quartet of textbook blocks that sprung Montgomery. His speed took care of the rest.

He also added a 39-yard touchdown reception at the end of the first half and a 68-yard kickoff return that led to Tyler Gaffney’s 11-yard touchdown run. In total, he rushed for 30 yards, had 56 receiving yards and totaled 204 yards on kickoff returns for a grand total of 290.

It was a a signature performance for Montgomery, who struggled with drops in last season's loss to Washington in Seattle.

“Much was made about last year's game with Ty and him having a rough game,” said Stanford head coach David Shaw. “We all had a rough game last year. But what I love about Ty right now and his mentality is this wasn't a way to get back at Washington or wasn't a redemption by any stretch of the imagination; it's just his growth. I mean, he's a better player now than he was a year ago. He's gotten better every single week.”

Stanford mailbag

September, 9, 2011
Scott from Redwood City, Calif., writes: Lots of commentators seem to expect the Card to lose some of their swagger without Harbaugh at the helm. What say you?

Kevin Gemmell: Scott. Don't let David Shaw's mild-mannered persona fool you. He holds the same principles -- physical toughness, power running game, smash-mouth football -- dear to his heart just as his predecessor did. Remember, he'd been with Harbaugh at the University of San Diego before Stanford. While their personalities are different, their approach to the game is nearly identical.

Is Shaw ever going to have a "What's your deal!?" type of conversation with a Pac-12 coach after a game? Probably not. But swagger and confidence are different paths that lead to the same place.

And if that answer doesn't satisfy you, see the 57 points they put up Saturday.

Says I.

Michael in New York writes: Was wondering how things are coming along with Patrick Skov. Based on the scouting videos I've seen of him, he looks to be the monster his brother is on the field. Is he still at fullback and do you have a sense of if/when he might see some game action?

KG: Michael. Stanford closes off its practices, so I haven't been able to see what kind of work he's getting. But he was not one of the four true freshmen to play on Saturday. He's listed at inside linebacker -- and there are a lot of good ones in front of him. Best guess is he probably won't see much action until/if he's needed this year. If he doesn’t get in, he’ll have a redshirt year learning the defense and getting bigger.

Erik in Mountain View, Calif., writes: I was wondering about the progress of linebacker Alex Debniak. I've been hearing his name for over two years now as a possible breakout player, but he seems to be unable to break through. What do the coaches think about him and his prospects for this season?

KG: Erik. Debniak had a hamstring injury that lingered a little bit, but he still dressed and played against San Jose State, assisting on one tackle. After a knee injury kept him out of 2009, he was a pretty impactful player on special teams and played in all 13 games. He's listed as an inside linebacker, but the depth chart has him at outside linebacker behind Trent Murphy. He probably has a better chance of seeing more action at that spot, given the depth at middle linebacker.

Michael in Alameda writes: Who do you believe will get the most production this year from the tight end position? Fleener, Toilolo and Ertz all seem to be on an even playing field to start the year?

KG: Michael. Good question … and one of those proverbial good problems to have for Shaw. Production is a tricky thing to calculate with tight ends. If you're talking about straight receiving numbers, then I think Fleener will probably put up the bigger numbers over the course of the season, simply because of the rapport he already has with Andrew Luck. Though Luck has been given the green light that anytime Toilolo has single coverage, he can throw his way. And we saw Ertz catch a touchdown against SJSU. All three are also very good blockers -- a point that Shaw stressed this week in his weekly meeting with the media. A good block on a touchdown run is "productive," but it won't show up in the stat sheet.

So to answer your question: doesn't matter. They are all good and productive. Enjoy the good problem.

Thanks for the questions. Keep them coming.


Drive Through: Pac-12 Preview
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