Even though Kevin Hogan grew up the son of a lobbyist and attended high school six blocks from the Capitol building, nobody had to do any politicking for him to be Stanford’s starting quarterback.
The way Hogan has played made him a nearly unanimous choice.
In one of the smoothest and least controversial midseason changes any major program will ever have, Hogan has quietly supplanted Josh Nunes under center. Stanford coach David Shaw said the redshirt freshman will make his first start for the No. 16 Cardinal (7-2, 5-1) on Saturday against No. 13 Oregon State (7-1, 5-1) in what is essentially a Pac-12 North semifinal.
The winner will face second-ranked Oregon with a chance — assuming neither loses it’s only other league game left — to advance to the conference championship.
“He’s ready,” Shaw said Tuesday. “There are times when a guy just gets it.”
Hogan had been used mostly as a read-option quarterback in wildcat-type packages this season. Fullback Ryan
Hewitt even dubbed Hogan Stanford’s version of “Tim Tebow.”
The strong-armed and fleet-footed quarterback had a breakthrough in Boulder last week when he relieved Nunes after Stanford’s first two drives stalled. Hogan picked apart the nation’s worst defense, throwing for 184 yards and two touchdowns and running for 48 yards in just two quarters of work to lead the Cardinal past Colorado, 48-0.
On Monday, Shaw informed Hogan by phone that he would be Stanford’s new starting quarterback.
Hogan, a quiet and reserved 20-year-old with a demeanor strikingly similar to Andrew Luck — the No. 1 overall pick of the Indianapolis Colts who left gargantuan footsteps to fill on The Farm — said at first he didn’t tell anybody the news. Instead, he waited to inform his parents the next time they talked, part of a personality that even teammates tease never shows any excitement.
“He’s just so cool, like the most interesting man,” wide receiver Jamal-Rashad Patterson said.
Shaw doesn’t regret his decision to name Nunes the starter, saying at the time “it wasn’t close.” Hogan was still learning the offense, which both estimate he still only has about 80 percent at his disposal, and Nottingham needed to show coaches more than a powerful right arm.
Even now Nunes remains somewhat of a mystery. He played spectacularly in the second half to upset then-No. 2 Southern California and rallied the Cardinal from a two-touchdown deficit for a 54-48 overtime win against Arizona, but then he looked lost for long stretches in losses at Washington and Notre Dame.
Shaw thanked Nunes for guiding the Cardinal through the first eight games and told him to stay ready.
“You just coach them all, push them all and see what happens,” Shaw said. “I think you get in trouble as a coach when you hope and wish for things to happen. I think you have to push them all and evaluate what happens. And when the guys do what you want them to do, you reward them with more playing time.”