LOS ANGELES—Stanford head coach David Shaw addressed the media Saturday morning at LA Hotel Downtown and praised his freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan and junior tight end Zach Ertz.
Stanford junior quarterback Josh Nunes started through October but was benched before the game against Colorado due to what Shaw referred to as a “sputtering” offense.
Hogan did see very limited action in three games earlier in the season but has already shown his running ability, something that Shaw said is crucial for his offensive attack.
“[Hogan] is a lot more mobile than the other guy was,” senior cornerback Devin Smith said last week after a practice.
Hogan beat then-No. 1 Oregon 17-14 in overtime in just his third start and has completed 96 of his 132 pass attempts (72.7%) since taking over as starter against Colorado. He has also run for 209 yards in that span.
“He hasn’t slowed down since,” Stanford head coach David Shaw said.
Although the Badgers have shown they are more than capable of slowing down mobile quarterbacks this season, they haven’t necessarily seen a mobile one in a pro-style offense like Stanford’s.
Wisconsin held Ohio State’s Braxton Miller to just 48 yards on 23 carries (2.1 average) and held Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez to 2.9 yards per carry in the Big Ten Championship game if his 76-yard run in the first quarter were erased.
But neither of those teams set up play-action as well as Stanford does, specifically because of 6-foot-6 junior tight end Zach Ertz.
“They set [play-action] up so well that when they do go to the play-action game it really freezes people and it really gets people stuck,” redshirt junior linebacker Ethan Armstrong said.
“It’s something that we’ve tried to simulate and work on in practice, but it’s something that we’re definitely going to have to be on our toes for our game.”
Co-defensive coordinator Charlie Partridge thinks that Ertz is truly something special and could leave the Badgers defense in a whirlwind of trouble.
“To say we’re going to stop him I think would be probably stretching it a little bit,” he said. “He’s so good at using his body, even if there’s someone there with him, he’s so good at using his body to create separation and then go up and get the ball.”
His presence has affected how teams cover him—specifically on third down—more than one might think, as well.
“We’ve had teams that play their best cover corner on our tight end, which has helped other guys get open, but at the same time those guys haven’t been able to cover them one-on-one,” Shaw said.
“The way he’s played for us this year has been as well as any tight end has played in college football in the last five years, in my opinion.”