Shaw: Time for Stanford to spring forward

The Orange Bowl trophy is displayed inside Stanford’s football

offices, a powerful, glistening symbol of the rapid resurgence of

the program that new coach David Shaw passes every day.

If it was up to him, he’d rather his players put all those

memories in the closet for now.

”Those oranges from the Orange Bowl, they rot, they die. It’s

over,” Shaw said Friday. ”We’ve got to put a stop on it at some

point and say, ‘Who will we be going forward?”’

That question will soon be answered.

The Cardinal begin their first spring practice session Monday,

officially kicking off the Shaw Era with a ton of talent and lofty

expectations. And any chance of erasing one of the best seasons in

school history from the minds of players and fans won’t be

easy.

Just upstairs from where Shaw held his first roundtable with

beat reporters, sitting in the same seat his predecessor, Jim

Harbaugh, once used, sat the Orange Bowl trophy from last season’s

40-12 victory over Virginia Tech. Everywhere else he turns on

campus, he is reminded of that success.

Students across the school sport Orange Bowl championship

T-shirts. Football posters cover walls and light posts, and

football chatter can be heard in the dining halls at the

historically academics-first school.

Not that there aren’t reminders on the field.

Andrew Luck returns at quarterback after putting off being the

NFL draft’s likely No. 1 pick and several starters are back from a

12-1 team that finished fourth in the final AP poll, the school’s

best ranking since the unbeaten 1940 team finished second.

Certainly, this is no ordinary spring on The Farm.

Shaw’s job is to convince his team otherwise.

”We’re the same place everybody else is,” he said. ”Every

year is a capsule. It has a start and an end. The next year, every

team is different. Your leadership is different. Different guys are

stepping into different roles, it will effect schematically what

you do. Every year you have to grow, add, delete, change. And

that’s where we are right now. We need to establish who we

are.”

That process is just beginning.

There are still some key spots to fill and position battles to

work out when the Cardinal hit the practice field. Among the most

glaring spots are receiver, offensive lineman and kicker.

All-American center Chase Beeler is gone. So are leading

receivers Doug Baldwin and Ryan Whalen and reliable kicker Nate

Whitaker. Shaw expects Luck to alleviate some of the

transition.

”With Andrew coming back, it’s led to some nights where it felt

pretty good going to bed,” he said.

Shaw is also counting on his reassembled coaching staff to pick

up any slack.

Shaw, the former offensive coordinator, said he is hiring Mike

Bloomgren – the former New York Jets assistant offensive

coordinator – as offensive line coach and running game coordinator

and Mike Sanford as running backs coach. He still has to hire a

tight ends/tackles coach, the last of his vacancies since Harbaugh

left for the San Francisco 49ers and took some of the Stanford

staff with him.

The Cardinal are again holding their NCAA-allotted 15 spring

practices over two sessions. The first session will include eight

practices over two weeks beginning Monday, and the remaining will

be held in late March and conclude with the annual spring game

April 9 in San Francisco.

”I can’t wait to get on the field,” Shaw said. ”I can’t wait

to get back to football. Offseason conditioning and winter

conditioning drills have been going well and are necessary. But at

the same time, there’s nothing like getting on the field for those

15 days that we get.”