Stanford mailbag

Happy Monday. Let's take some questions (or respond to declarative statements).

Adam in Dallas, Texas, writes: DAVID SHAW WAS THE WRONG HIRE!

Kevin Gemmell: Whoa there, cowboy. First, ease up on the all caps. Second, I TOTALLY DISAGREE! Shaw was the perfect hire. First, he's a Stanford grad with deep ties to the program through his father and prior coaches. Second, he was the offensive coordinator for all of Andrew Luck's career. Did you really want to bring in a new head coach with potentially a new offensive system for Luck's final year? Third, so far, he appears to be able to recruit extremely well. Just for kicks, let's look at some of the coaches who were on the move last year or interviewed for the job. Chris Petersen was never really interested. Greg Roman or Vic Fangio? Maybe. But would either of them have done a better job this season? I can't see either one of them doing anything much differently. Brady Hoke was a non-name that turned into a big name last year, and as a former San Diego State beat writer, I heard whisperings about his name at Stanford, but know for a fact he wouldn't have taken the job. The point is, you say he's the wrong guy, but who would have been the right guy? This year was all about getting the most out of Luck and getting back to a BCS bowl game. Shaw did that. Five years from now if the Cardinal are coming off back-to-back 2-10 seasons, you can serve me up some crow with Tabasco and I'll dive right in without a bib. But don't throw out an all-caps message after an 11-2 season that also notched Shaw the Pac-12 Coach of the Year without suggesting another name.

Brian in Palo Alto writes: Kevin, what do you see as the biggest off-season needs for the Cardinal?

Kevin Gemmell: I would say that just as important as hammering out the quarterback issue, Stanford needs to really improve on tackling in the secondary. I haven't been shy about touting the futures of Devon Carrington and Jordan Richards. But they are really going to have to step it up next season because there is no Delano Howell coming back from injury and no Michael Thomas to rally the troops and hold the secondary together. Wayne Lyons should be back from injury, which will help soften the blow of losing Johnson Bademosi and Corey Gatewood. With Chase Thomas announcing over the weekend that he's coming back, the front seven should be outstanding again. But behind the front seven, the Cardinal are going to need to do a better job putting hats on receivers.

Taylor in Portland, Ore. writes: What can we expect out of Barry Sanders in his first year?

Kevin Gemmell: First off, wait until it's official. From what I understand, he has to clear admissions first and then officially go through the signing day pomp and circumstance. Once that happens, I wouldn't expect a 1,500-yard season just yet. Stepfan Taylor will continue to be the primary back, though I wouldn't be shocked to see Sanders get a decent amount of carries. Taylor, Tyler Gaffney, Anthony Wilkerson and Jeremy Stewart all saw playing time as true freshmen. He has a lot to learn about this system -- specifically reading gaps and pass protection, something that is going to be paramount next season with a new starting quarterback and new left tackle. If he shows in practice he can handle it, we should see him get some carries next season.