David Shaw: 'You'd better not run the same coverage 2 plays in a row'
Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday July 25, 2013
For years, coaches at strong academic institutions have dealt with other coaches using those academics against them in recruiting.
But in recently, schools like Stanford, Vanderbilt and Northwestern are finding success on and off the field, and using academics as a selling point.
Stanford's David Shaw joined The Herd on ESPN Radio and talked about that point. Using graduation rate, he cleverly turned it back around.
"That's the funny thing," he said. "We get that a lot. 'It's so hard to go to Stanford.' I say, 'Well, we just graduated 100 percent of our players, but other schools didn't. So it seems like it's actually harder to go someplace else.' We went to three BCS games in a row and have really high graduation rates, so for us, it seems like the place to be."
The Cardinal are sending a large amount of players (and coaches) to the NFL, and Shaw himself has an NFL background. He said there's no doubt the NFL experience helps in recruiting, and he explained the specifics as to why.
"We talk about making that transition," he said. "We plan an NFL style of football. Very physical, throw the ball down the field, defensively, we're 3-4 blitzing, great coverage schemes by (co-defensive coordinator / associate head coach Derek) Mason. We talk a lot about making that transition. But at the same time, we talk about doing things at a high level.
"We're going to tax you, mentally. A lot of people forget, the NFL is hard. It's hard, mentally. There's a lot of scheme. There's a lot of things every single week. Back-to-back, you're going to face Brees, Brady and Manning, and you'd better not run the same coverage two plays in a row. ... You think, 'I'm this great cover corner. Just call Cover-1.' If you just play Cover-1 against Tom Brady, he's going to kill you. You've got to be able to do mix and match and do a bunch of different things. For us, we do that every single week. We game-plan, we change things massively."
Shaw says the Cardinal typically go into football games with more plays available than any other team in the country.
"We approach everything with an NFL mentality. A year ago, we had more rookies in the NFL than anybody else in college football, on active rosters," he said. "For us, it's not about just having a chance. We feel we have a great path to the NFL. NFL coaches are going to have guys on their teams that don't lose games for them. They don't make mistakes.
"You're going to get a kid from Stanford that's tough, smart, a great football player and is coming from a program of success. Absolutely, you want to play with that guy."
One of those players sent to the NFL is former No. 1 pick Andrew Luck. Shaw shared a great story about the first time he and then-head coach Jim Harbaugh realized what they had in Luck. Here's the whole thing:
"There was a practice the year he redshirted. We're on the left hash. ... So it's a long throw from the college left hash to the right sideline. Andrew dropped back, he's looking to his left, the short side of the field, and looked back to his right. So he didn't move his whole body. All he did was turn his head. Without turning the rest of his body, he flicked a ball about 20 yards downfield, but it was longer because from where he is to the other side of the field, he put the ball over a guy's head and into another guy's hands without moving the rest of his body. A flick of the wrist.
"I'll never forget the look on Jim's face. We're both looking at our scripts. I was behind Jim, he turned around, looked at me, and you don't want to make a big deal of something like that. All I did was raise my eyebrows. Jim mouthed something that I can't say on radio. Since I watched John Elway when I was with the Raiders, I'd never seen a guy, in that kind of a body position, just flick a ball like it was a baseball. (Probably a 45-yard throw) on a rope. It was something when you'd see a guy stride into and throw everything he's got.
"The kid just flicked it and did it like it was not a big deal. He did that game after game, practice after practice. I can't say enough positive things about Andrew Luck."