Coach Jim Harbaugh met with some Stanford supporters on Saturday. Over 150 Cardinal fans gathered at the Alpine Inn in Portola Valley to listen to the man in charge of the Stanford program talk about everything from freshman linebackers to summer conditioning to defensive philosophy.
For over an hour a relaxed and humorous Harbaugh gave the gathering insights into the 2010 season, answering any and all questions.
Here is some of the quotes and notes Harbaugh shared with the boosters.
"Right now if something happen to Andrew Luck, it's Alex Loukas". Who will also be competing at safety. His is "straight-up one of the best athletes on the team". He will alternate between quarterback and safety the first week until it is clear one of the other qb's can take the reigns of the number two job. "If one of them seizes the job, then Loukas will remain at safety".
Reiterated that Owen Marecic is listed at first team fullback and linebacker. And he "knows the perils and the merits" of having him play two-ways, "there are risks and rewards". They have a plan for him daily, at each practice. Will alternate days - one day with the offense, next with the defense. Something the staff will "continually monitor, each day and each game."
"Vic Fangio is one of the best coaches I have ever been around". Mason's coaching has been "showing up on the tape" and the corners will be much better because of it. Called it a "miracle" to get Fangio to Stanford. Said he learns something every day from Fangio about football. He sums it up by saying he is a "coordinator". Baltimore he was a coach, here he is a coordinator. "Some people are just managers, that is who they are."
During his first nine months at Stanford he had the pleasure of talking to Bill Walsh sixteen times, either a lunch or a breakfast or just sat in his office listening to him talk football. One of the things Harbaugh will never forget was Walsh telling him to "put your best players on defense. Because the defensive players have to react to what the offense is doing. Offensive guys know where they are going, defensive guys have to react, they have to be better athletes."
In shoring up the defense, Richard Sherman, Delano Howell, Owen Marecic, Alex Loukas all moved to defense. Lot of resources, lot of focus on the defense.
Want to "eventually be great on defense, this year we will take being good."
Need to find a right tackle and depth along the OL. Derek Hall, James McGillicuddy and Cameron Fleming will all compete for right tackle job.
Defensive line is solid at starters need depth. Need guys to step up at nose. Mentioned ends Ben Gardner and Josh Mauro has two who had good springs. Need to stay healthy.
Said the style and persona of defense has been lacking, no identity. Want to attack and be quick, dictating the series. "Either a three and out or if it is going to be a touchdown, make it happen quick" (laughs). "It's aggressive. Make it highly uncomfortable for the offense". Doesn't want teams to "drive, and drive and drive, taking off eight-nine minutes off the clock, lets make it happen quick...one way or the other."
Likes to keep changing offensive sets, keeps the defense uncomfortable. That's what we do. Likes having multiple tight ends for that purpose.
Thought at one time Toilolo could grow into a tackle once his body matured, but now thinks he will stay a tight end. He is becoming a great blocker and is a super athlete.
Jack Harbaugh told a story of playing at Oklahoma in 1980. The Sooners were ranked number four and ran a triple-option with QB J.C. Watts. And for three quarters Stanford shut them out, and people said coach you must have played great defense. But all he remembered was they fumbled seven times. John Elway had more rushing years than passing yards and Stanford won 31-14 in an upset. Jim cracked that is not as good as 55-21 but pretty good. The entire crowd roared with laughter.
The first six games will tell them everything about the team. Highly competitive six games.
Basic elements of having a good team - "great quarterback, good defense and a kicker who can make field goals. Or a good quarterback, a great defense and a kicker who can make field goals". The common denominator is a good kicker and Stanford has one in Nate Whitaker.
Said there is a "cardiac need" for Stanford to develop a back-up long snapper. Zach Nolan is crucial to stay healthy.
All players passed conditioning test and the tests were more difficult this year, the required time to make was dropped a full second.
Luck is really learned to handle the spotlight he has received the last 4-5 months. He made great strides as a redshirt freshman and made exceed expectations again.
The afternoon ended with Jack Harbaugh on a picnic table leading the crowd in a rousing cheer of "Ay Ziggy Zoomba"