Stanford begins identity search for 2012

Stanford head coach David Shaw is going to spend this week looking.

  • Looking for a new quarterback.

  • Looking to fill holes on his offensive line.

  • Looking for a couple of new safeties.

  • Looking to fill out his coaching staff with a linebackers coach.

But he's also looking for something that trumps all of the above: Stanford's identity.

"I need to see what we're becoming," Shaw said. "I need to see what Stanford football in 2012 is going to look like. We're not going to have all of the answers. But hopefully we'll have a better idea of where we're headed on both sides of the ball."

The Cardinal kick off the first of two spring sessions today, and Shaw said he hopes that by the end of the week he'll be able to make an announcement on a new inside linebackers coach. Last week, he named Pete Alamar the new special teams coordinator. Alamar replaces Brian Polian, who left for Texas A&M last month. The new linebackers coach will replace Jason Tarver, who also served as co-defensive coordinator before leaving this month to be defensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders.

Shaw said that Derek Mason -- who was co-defensive coordinator with Tarver -- will oversee the defense as the sole coordinator next season. While he'd like to have a linebackers coach in place this week, he said it's not an immediate priority.

"I'm in no hurry," Shaw said. "We have seven practices this session, and if we get it filled, great. If not, I'm fine. The most important thing is that I get the right guy that fits us and fits what we want to do."

Naturally, quarterback will be hot debate throughout the offseason as the Cardinal take the field for the first time in three years without Andrew Luck leading the offense. This first session of practices will focus mainly on the base offense and defense, and third downs. The second session will involve more situational practice.

Shaw said he expects all of the position battles to be hotly contested. The practices will be high-energy, full contact (though the NCAA limits how many days you can go in full pads during the spring) and he wants to see which players are going to separate themselves. Only then will he have a better idea of what his team is going to look like next season.

"Where are we at the safety positions could dictate what we do coverage-wise," Shaw said. "What we do on the offensive line will dictate what we do in protection and the running game. Who has the edge at QB leaving spring? It won't be decided, but whoever has the edge, we might know a little bit more what we want to do scheme-wise. They won't be final answers. But they'll be clues as to where Stanford football in 2012 is going to go."