There were good plays on offense and defense Saturday morning as the Stanford football team scrimmaged at sun-splashed Elliot Field.
Head coach David Shaw saw many positive signs as he prepares his squad for this Saturday's Cardinal and White Game at 1 p.m., inside Stanford Stadium, which signals the end of spring practice.
The controlled scrimmage was planned and orchestrated by down-and-distance, including goal-line and short-yardage situations. A full officiating crew oversaw the proceedings.
Offensively, fifth-year senior quarterback Kevin Hogan marched the first unit right down the field and scored on the opening possession. He looked sharp, completing 7-of-8 passes for 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns -- one to fifth-year senior wide receiver Devon Cajuste and another to sophomore tight end Dalton Schultz. Cajuste also made a tough 25-yard catch in traffic.
"Kevin was really good," Shaw said. "That's the second scrimmage in a row for Dalton where he scored a touchdown in the red zone. I'm excited about our young tight ends and the versatility we have there."
Also standing out was junior tight end Greg Taboada, who caught two passes for 43 yards, including a dazzling one-handed grab from sophomore quarterback Keller Chryst from Palo Alto High. Chryst continues to battle junior Ryan Burns for the backup quarterback job. Chryst connected on 5-of-8 throws for 68 yards, while Burns hit 3-of-6 attempts for 12 yards.
Fifth-year senior running back Remound Wright led Cardinal rushers with six carries for 17 yards. Senior Barry Sanders ran four times for 16 yards and sophomore Christian McCaffrey added 14 yards on three attempts.
Defensively, there was a lot to like. For the second time in three days, the unit won the goal-line battle, resulting in the offense doing 20 push-ups after practice.
"The key is fumbles," Shaw said. "We keep score. We do an even number, so if there is a tie, we do a tiebreaker. The defense won, 6-2, but the offense had two fumbles on plays that would have converted, so it should have been 4-4 with the tiebreaker. We've got to take care of the ball.
"The same thing happened Thursday. That will be a point of emphasis going forward for the offensive side, but the defense is playing really well, really stout. We talk about how young our defensive line is; yes, we miss David Parry and Henry Anderson, but right now they're playing lights out."
Among the standouts was sophomore defensive end Harrison Phillips, who contributed four tackles for loss and three sacks.
"I've at least started to get better," said Phillips. "We've been focusing a lot of the basics, even though we're getting so many reps. It's more just knock-back and ripping off and tackling."
Phillips deflected praise for his strong showing Saturday.
"With sacks, it's not up to me really," he said. "It's play-calling."
Phillips' weight dipped to 249 pounds last season, but he has bulked up to 272, in large part to home cooking during the spring break.
"When I was home, my mom did everything she could," said Phillips. "Feeding me non-stop. That was very, very beneficial."
The defensive line isn't deep, but has been shored up with the return of sophomore Solomon Thomas (toe) and addition of fifth-year senior Torsten Rotto.
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Despite injuries, senior center Graham Shuler thinks the offensive line is also making good strides.
"We hated losing Nick (Davidson) to that ankle injury -- that was really tough," he said. "But when you have all these guys out here with so much talent and so competitive, and these spots that are somewhat open, guys are just flying around, trying to make plays to earn that moment or opportunity to get into the game, whether it's on one play or a whole series. It's coming together."
The offensive line finished the 2014 season strong, but Shaw has urged them not to look back.
"Coach Shaw gave us an illustration right when we got in for this second session of spring, and talked about how that is in the rear view mirror. Yes, it's awesome and beautiful to look at, but what we have ahead of us is a lot bigger," said Shuler. "We need to build on that. You'll hear Joshua Garnett out here yelling all the time, 'Stack them, stack them, stack them.' And it's just stacking one good thing on top of another because you have to build a foundation. For anything to look amazing, you have to build it layer by layer."
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Extra Points: Junior linebacker Kevin Palma, sophomore outside linebacker Joey Alfieri and Thomas also collected sacks. Alfieri caused a fumble, recovered by senior strong safety Dallas Lloyd . . . Shaw remains hopeful that senior free safety Zach Hoffpauir will return to the team following baseball season. He is currently recovering from a hand injury . . . Following the scrimmage, Shaw huddled with his players and a loud cheer went up when he announced that 58 student-athletes achieved grade-point averages of 3.0 or higher during the winter quarter, with 23 scoring 3.5 or better . . . Among the former players who turned out were Andrus Peat, Jordan Richards, Alex Carter, Lee Ward, Owen Marecic, Coby Fleener, Sam Schwartzstein, Griff Whalen and Rodney Gilmore.