The competition to be Andrew Luck’s long-term replacement is not
as settled as it once seemed.
With Josh Nunes struggling to consistently move the offense,
Stanford coach David Shaw said Tuesday that he plans to play backup
quarterback Kevin Hogan more. Hogan will take about 12 to 20 snaps
at Colorado on Saturday, putting pressure on Nunes to improve after
several sloppy starts.
Hogan, a redshirt freshman, played only about six downs in each
of the last two games. While most of that time has been as a
read-option or wildcat-style quarterback, expect more passes and
”He’s not ready to take it all right now,” Shaw said, ”and
I’m not ready to take it all away from Josh.”
Nunes has started all eight games since the Indianapolis Colts
selected Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. The
redshirt junior completed 7 of 15 passes for 136 yards and a
touchdown as Stanford squeezed past lowly Washington State 24-17
last week. He never found his rhythm, and at times looked lost.
The defense, which has carried the Cardinal all season, sacked
Jeff Tuel a school-record 10 times, and Ed Reynolds returned an
interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to bail out the
Now the No. 15 Cardinal (6-2, 4-1 Pac-12) head to Boulder to
face the beleaguered Buffaloes (1-7, 1-4). Future playing time
could be at stake with matchups against No. 13 Oregon State and
second-ranked Oregon that will decide the Pac-12 North Division up
Asked if he’d consider starting Hogan should the trend for both
quarterbacks continue, Shaw said: ”Anything is possible. Anything
is possible, which is always the thing when you’re going to give a
guy more time at any position.
”We just can’t have another half like we had this past game
where we had 15 plays the whole first half. We have to be more
Washington State, the only winless team in Pac-12 play, had 25
first downs to 12 for Stanford. The Cardinal converted five of
them, only put together one complete drive all game, and Shaw
spelled Nunes for five consecutive plays with Hogan between the
third and fourth quarters.
Apparently Shaw has finally seen enough to audible from a
formula that so often hasn’t worked.
Nunes beat out strong-armed Brett Nottingham, once considered
the favorite for the starting job, in fall practice. Hogan emerged
late in that competition, and even though the depth chart still
lists Nottingham as No. 2, Hogan has since passed the redshirt
sophomore for playing time.
While Shaw said in spring practice he disliked a two-quarterback
approach because it could disrupt rhythm, circumstances have forced
him to consider otherwise.
”It’s not so much a change in philosophy as saying, `This is
what is prudent. This is what is the smart thing to do,”’ Shaw
Nunes has completed 52.6 percent of his passes. Shaw has said
all year he wants that figure to be at about 70 percent, especially
considering Stanford doesn’t throw deep that often.
Nunes has thrown for 1,620 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven
interceptions. His struggles have been well documented in losses at
Washington and Notre Dame, but so have his highlights. He led
Stanford to a 21-14 victory against then-No. 2 Southern California,
and rallied the Cardinal from a two-touchdown deficit to stun
Arizona 54-48 in overtime.
Nunes has shouldered the blame for any offensive struggles.
”It starts with me,” he said Tuesday, adding that he isn’t
bothered at all by splitting time with Hogan, and praising his
budding backup. ”I just need to make the throws and be more
consistent and get us into the right plays more often.”
Shaw also is quick to point out that not all the blame falls on
Top wide receiver Ty Montgomery has missed three straight games
with a lower leg injury, and he dropped two key passes in the loss
at Washington, among others. Stepfan Taylor ran for a career-high
189 yards against Cal two weeks ago, but then the young offense
struggled to create lanes against the Cougars. The senior ran for
only 58 yards on 21 carries.
Hogan has seven carries for 16 yards in four games and has only
thrown the ball once, connecting with tight end Levine Toilolo for
a 9-yard touchdown in Stanford’s 21-3 win at rival California.
Shaw said Hogan has an ”added mobility,” earned more playing
in practices, and has ”done exceptionally well” with the small
amount of offense he has run. Shaw said he isn’t worried about the
potential impact on Nunes’ confidence and expects the move to only
motivate both quarterbacks more.
”As I said in front of the team, this is big-time college
football. There’s competition everywhere,” Shaw said. ”Josh has
responded great in practice, and so has Kevin. It’s not necessarily
to compete to be the starter. It’s competing for plays.”’
This will be the third straight game against a ranked opponent
for Colorado, which has been outscored 120-20 in the first two. The
Buffaloes have lost 10 in a row to Top 25 foes since beating No. 17
Kansas on Oct. 17, 2009.
Last Saturday’s 70-14 loss to Oregon was the fourth consecutive
defeat for Colorado and the third straight game it allowed at least
50 points. The Ducks piled up 617 yards, including 425 on the
Colorado won’t be eligible to play in its first bowl game since
2007, but senior linebacker Doug Rippy isn’t giving up on the
”We’re not giving in man. We’re not giving in,” he said. ”We
lost a bowl game but we’re still playing for Colorado and the
people that played here before us.”
There is also an unsettled quarterback situation in Colorado
with a full-blown competition involving junior Jordan Webb and
sophomore Nick Hirschman. Webb started the first eight games and
Hirschman guided the team to its only points in the loss to
“We’ll let them battle it out and see,” coach Jon Embree told
the school’s official website.