One of the last things that might come to mind when most people think about the Stanford football team is a spread-option formation and a running quarterback.
Now times really are changing without Andrew Luck this season.
With Josh Nunes struggling to find consistency, Stanford coach David Shaw has started to mix things up more at quarterback. Not because he has lost confidence in the redshirt junior. It’s more that backup Kevin Hogan has just been that impressive, and signal-callers may both benefit.
“It’s kind of like having, excuse me for saying it, but like a Tim Tebow on our team,” fullback Ryan Hewitt said. “He relishes the role. He likes it.”
Hogan’s role has been expanding each of the last four games.
The redshirt freshman tossed his first collegiate pass — a 9-yard touchdown to tight end Levine Toilolo — at a critical point in the No. 19 Cardinal’s 21-3 victory at rival Cal last week, and he’s another piece Washington State coach Mike Leach has to game plan for ahead of Saturday’s matchup at Stanford Stadium.
After watching Hogan play the scout team quarterback last year, when he mimicked opponents’ styles such as Oregon’s spread and UCLA’s pistol offenses in practice, Shaw saw something that might work on Stanford’s side.
Shaw started implementing packages for Hogan similar to the way Stanford (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12 Conference) did with Alex Loukas in 2008, and Hogan ran his first play for 5 yards in a 17-13 loss at Washington in the fourth game of this season.
Hogan entered at quarterback for six plays against Cal — although one was a false start penalty, and another appearance the previous week at Notre Dame was wiped out by a penalty. The Cardinal added another wrinkle when Hogan rolled right and tossed the touchdown to Toilolo in the first half of the victory at Cal last week.
“This is not a wildcat. This is not a running back that’s just a running back. He’s an athletic guy that can pass,” Shaw said. “Those are things that we can take advantage of as an offense.”