Cardinal coach Shaw stresses conservative play against USC

Courtesy PhotoPlaying the game: Stanford coach David Shaw doesn’t want QB Josh Nunes to directly compete with USC signal-caller and Heisman Trophy candidate Matt Barkley.

Courtesy PhotoPlaying the game: Stanford coach David Shaw doesn’t want QB Josh Nunes to directly compete with USC signal-caller and Heisman Trophy candidate Matt Barkley.

The experts have Stanford — which haven’t lost to Southern Cal in three years — pinned as the underdog for Saturday’s matchup in Palo Alto.

But David Shaw heeds none of that.

“We play well — we get a chance to win. We don’t play well — we get a chance to lose,” Stanford’s second-year coach said. “I never go into a game thinking of being an underdog.”

But despite that mindset, Shaw knows that the Pac-12 Conference powerhouse will be a tall order for his squad. The Trojans have what Shaw calls the best college wide receiving duo he’s ever seen in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee.

“Not even close,” he said.

But the Trojans’ arsenal doesn’t stop there. Silas Redd and Curtis McNeil are a running back tandem that features both power and agility. And senior quarterback Matt Barkley, much like Andrew Luck last year, has proven capable of manipulating the offense when needed.

“You can’t replace that kind of experience at that position,” Shaw said.

Yet experience at QB is what Shaw doesn’t have in Josh Nunes, who is starting for the first time this season. In his first two games, Nunes threw four touchdowns and one interception.

“The worst thing he can try to do is try to compete with Matt Barkley. We’re not in that business,” said Shaw, stressing smart play and offensive management. “We’re not going to compete statistically — that’s not our goal. Our goal is to get in the fourth quarter and have a chance to win it at the end.”

Win it at the end is what the Cardinal did last year in their 56-48 triple-overtime win in Los Angeles. But everything that has transpired before Saturday’s kickoff — including Stanford’s three straight wins over USC — matters not to Shaw.

“There is no such thing as momentum,” he said. “There’s no mental edge we have over USC. It’s for those 60 minutes, who’s gonna play the best and score the most points.”

And Shaw’s quarterback hopes to accomplish that task quickly.
“We really want to come out and start fast this game — especially this game,” Nunes said. “I have confidence in the defense that they can do what they need to do to get things done.”

But if there’s a remedy for unhorsing the Trojans’ attack, it may lie in a swarming secondary assault.

“Not leaving anyone on an island by themselves,” said Stanford safety Ed Reynolds, who already has three interceptions after missing all of last season.

The California rivalry is one that USC coach Lane Kiffin called Tuesday a more “friendly” and “respectful” one, given the current coaching staffs.

Probably recalling a certain two-point conversion attempt three years ago, Shaw just smiled.

“Lane and I get along very well,” Shaw said. “We love to beat each other. But at the same time … we’re fine.”

collegeCollege SportsDavid ShawStanford Cardinal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Legislation by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman would require The City to add enough new safe camping sites, such as this one at 180 Jones St. in the Tenderloin, to accomodate everyone living on the street. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City would create sites for hundreds of tents under new homeless shelter proposal

Advocates say funding better spent on permanent housing

A construction worker rides on top of materials being transported out of the Twin Peaks Tunnel as work continues at West Portal Station on Thursday, August 16, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA’s poor track record on capital projects risks losing ‘public trust’

Supervisors say cost overruns and delays could jeapordize future ballot revenue measures

Roger Marenco, president of operators union TWU Local 250-A, speaks at a news conference outside the Muni Kirkland Yard announcing Muni will not be increasing fares on Wednesday, June 10, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA’s union leader encourages riders to say ‘thank you’ to their Muni operators

A conversation with Roger Marenco, president of Transport Workers Union of America, Local 250A

San Francisco’s live music clubs have been closed for more than a year. (Twitter screenshot)
S.F. venue recovery fund begins accepting grant applications

Entertainment presenters may apply from April 21-May 5

Most Read