Stanford news and notes

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Stanford head coach David Shaw addressed some of the penalty issues that popped up during Saturday’s game against UCLA. Some were warranted, he said, while others were not. The Cardinal were flagged for an uncharacteristic seven penalties for 80 yards. A few of the big ones:

  • Tyler Mabry’s personal foul on the PAT following Stepfan Taylor’s 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter: “It was extra-curricular. He was provoked, but that doesn’t excuse it. As I told the team [Monday], it’s always the second guy. It’s the guy that reacts. And you have to be smart enough to know. Him being a fifth-year senior, we expect him to be smart enough to know that you can’t retaliate.”

  • Jarek Lancaster’s pass interference call that negated a Stanford interception and led to a UCLA touchdown in the closing minute of the first half: “The one thing, when you look at it from the end zone, when the tight end crossed Jarek’s face, he put his hand around his waist. As soon as you extend your arm and the guy is running by you, you put it in the referee’s hands and I can’t blame him for making that call.”

  • Tyler Gaffney’s horse-collar tackle on the kickoff return by Josh Smith: “He tackled him by the hair.”


Mea culpa

I owe an apology to Lancaster. In a story on Monday critiquing his performance against UCLA, though praising his play, I also called him out on Joseph Fauria’s 13-yard touchdown, saying he needs to improve his pass coverage. I was informed that Fauria was in fact not Lancaster’s responsibility, and he was behind the play because he was covering for a teammate who missed the assignment. My bad, Jarek. Keep up the good work.

More Wildcat to come

Shaw said he likes what he’s seen so far out of Gaffney when he runs the Wildcat formation.

“He’s got the voice to bark out the signal,” Shaw said. “He’s got great hands if the snap is not perfect. He’s got great hand-eye coordination. He’s a physical, between-the-tackles type of runner and it’s a way to ensure we get him the ball.”

And as a baseball player you’d imagine he can throw.

“Not very well,” Shaw confessed with a laugh. “He says he can. I’ve seen him throw a baseball and he’s got a rocket. But this is a different deal. Some guys can’t throw well with shoulder pads. He’s wearing running back pads, not quarterback pads.”

How ‘bout them Niners

Shaw said he got to watch some of the San Francisco 49ers comeback win against Philadelphia while chatting with some recruits over the weekend. San Francisco, of course, is coached by former Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh.

“I texted a couple of guys on the staff,” Shaw said. “I was excited for them. Having been in the NFL, if you can get a divisional win on the road, that’s outstanding. That’s huge.”

Getting picky

Asked if Shaw is surprised his team doesn’t have any interceptions this season, he responded: “Yes. Very.

“Our DBs work on ball skills in pre-practice, post-practice, during individuals. We just haven’t gotten one. I told the defense [Monday] we’d like to get one, but we have to get them within the scheme. We don’t need guys going out there doing their own thing just because they are trying to get an interception. We have to play the scheme and when they come, we have to try and catch them.”

Where’s the ball?

Noseguard Terrence Stephens had a confession about his performance Saturday against UCLA, which runs a lot of misdirection with their pistol offense.

“Most of the time, I had no idea where the ball was, to be honest,” said Stephens. “But I did what the coaches asked and that was to blow No. 51 [UCLA center Kai Maiava] off the ball … it’s hard to track the ball in the pistol. Nine out of 10 times, I’m straight up on the center. I’m not the tallest of guys so it was hard to see around him.”

Savoring the sellout

Players and coaches agreed it was a great environment Saturday night as the Cardinal sold out Stanford Stadium (50,360).

“It was awesome,” said quarterback Andrew Luck. “It was one of the best atmospheres I’ve played in in this stadium. If not the best.”

Shaw said he was glad the 7:30 p.m. kickoff wasn't a deterrent.

"A lot of our fans will say they hate the 7:30 game but we just had a 7:30 sellout," he said. "When the football is being played at a high level, our fans will come out and cheer us on, which is great."