Coach David Shaw wants his next quarterback to be the kid who can execute his pro style offense under real-game pressure. He might find out who that is in San Francisco this weekend.
The Cardinal and White spring game at Kezar Stadium on Saturday might be the best opportunity to see how the five candidates vying to succeed Andrew Luck are able to perform in live-game situations before the Stanford football season kicks off in September.
“How you handle a game-day environment is important,” Shaw said. “And this will be the closest thing to a game-day environment that we’ll have.”
While each of the quarterbacks on Stanford’s roster — Brett Nottingham, Josh Nunes, Robbie Picazo, Kevin Hogan and Evan Crower — are in contention, Shaw said that redshirt sophomore Nottingham, Luck’s top backup last season, and redshirt junior Nunes, his understudy in 2010, have separated themselves from the pack.
“Those are the two guys at the top of the competition right now,” he said.
As a result, Nottingham and Nunes will take the most snaps Saturday.
Each quarterback brings different assets into the huddle. For instance, Nottingham, a Monte Vista High School (Danville) product, has a strong arm and QB smarts, but Shaw said it’s his competitive drive and mental toughness that stand out.
“Brett’s got the mentality of a pitcher,” he said, adding: “He can play the next play with no memory.”
On the other hand, Nunes, who lost the backup gig to Nottingham last year after suffering a turf-toe injury, has the most experience and maturity.
“Josh is a year further in the system. He has the mechanics down a little bit more,” Shaw said.
For Nottingham, Saturday’s game is an opportunity to put an exclamation point on his spring workouts.
“If you’re a competitor — if this is what you live for — I can’t think of a better opportunity than fighting for the No. 1 quarterback spot at Stanford,” he said.
Nunes’ goal is to simply run the offense and put points of board.
“I’m trying to score touchdowns. We want production from the offense,” he said.
But the spring game is only one piece of the resumes that Shaw will examine before making a decision this summer. Crower, Hogan or Picazo could still jump ahead if their games come together before kickoff against San Jose State on Sept. 1.
“I told the guys, ‘I’m not going to make this decision.’ This decision is going to be made on film,” Shaw said. “[The determining factor is] going to be the empirical data that we take a look at.”
WHAT: Cardinal and White spring game
WHERE: Kezar Stadium
WHEN: Pregame festivities at noon; kickoff at 2 p.m.