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No quarterback controversy at Stanford

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Fans may be clamoring for a change, the media may be questioning the judgment, But Stanford football Head Coach David Shaw is very clear on his thoughts on the subject.

“Josh (Nunes) is our starting quarterback.”

Shaw usually does not make opening statements on his media availability days. Tuesday was different. After opening with a procedural issue for the media (on another subject) Shaw said he would not answer any questions about a change at quarterback because there was no need to do so.

“As far as the quarterback situation goes. I am not going to answer any questions about whether or not we are going to play another quarterback. Josh is our starting quarterback. He played well the first game. He played much better the second game. He played an outstanding half against USC. And he is coming off a bad game. We are not changing quarterbacks. That does not make sense to me. We wanted to bronze his arm and his legs after USC. And now I have to answer 100 questions about how come we are not changing quarterbacks. It is asinine.”

And from there it was off to the rest of the session. The conversation continued about Nunes but not about his starting status.

For the most part, Shaw has been very impressed with the play of his starting quarterback. Shaw said he has done a great job in throwing the ball deep. Against Washington all of his deep throws were dead on except for the final pass on 4th-and-four to Levine Toilolo. Shaw said that was a bad pass. The rest of the deep throws resulted in dropped passes by the wide receivers.

On the short throws, and the ground ball throws that Nunes seems to unleash at least once per game, Shaw said it is a mechanics issue. Shaw said it is not uncommon for quarterbacks but the issue is about weight distribution. Nunes needs to keep his weight on his back leg longer so when he finds a place to throw it, he can do so immediately. “Staying loaded throughout his progressions,” is how Shaw stated it.

“It is not anything that Josh can’t do or hasn’t done a thousand times,” Shaw said. “He looked at it and he saw it. It is a two minute conversation. It is about making sure his body is always in the right position.”

The tone of the conversation is clearly that Nunes is playing well and it is just a few minor things that might need to get tweaked. The numbers are tough to argue with though. Without going into detail here, David Lombardi at Scout does an excellent breakdown on where Nunes’s numbers http://stanford.scout.com/2/1226934.htmlare right now.

For Shaw the issues are more than just Nunes though. Improving the passing game can be broken down simplistically.

“We just have to throw and catch. It is simple. It is not like we have don’t have guys open. It is not like we have not had opportunities. But we have to take advantage of those opportunities. We believe we have a receiving core that is gelling. Once again, I don’t overreact. Two games ago we had outstanding performances by both of our starting receivers against Duke. They had great catches. Josh threw some great balls. Two weeks later they did not have great performances. That being said we go back to work. We work hard on things we believe we are going to call. We put guys in a position to succeed. And once again it is constant competition. Those guys know in order to get those opportunities on game day they have to do it during the week so we are going to go back to this week of practice and get after it.”

Shaw continues that it is going to need to be a group effort to get better.

“The passing game is rarely ever fixed by one guy. If that was it then that would be easy. Of all the football that Josh has played in the four games, three quarters of it has been good. There are some really good positives. In the last four games I don’t know if you can throw better deep balls than he has thrown. Against Duke he showed he can throw everything. Against USC he showed he can run and get us a couple of first downs. The mantra for our offense this week is it is time to put it all together. It is not about changing plays or changing players it is just about executing. Doing what we are capable of doing. No more and no less.”

This weekend’s game against Arizona will be a big one for Nunes and the passing game. Are the issues just mechanical by the quarterback and drops by the receivers? Can the team put mistakes behind them and improve? Or do the numbers tell the story?

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