STANFORD —Coach David Shaw whittled a five-man field down to sophomore Brett Nottingham and junior Josh Nunes in the spring, but red-shirt freshman Kevin Hogan is making a late push, trying to make it a three-man race.
Shaw said he expects to make a decision on who will start the season opener against San Jose State Aug. 31 by the end of next week.
"Probably at some point next week," Shaw said. "Definitely before next Friday."
With the exception of one open practice Saturday, the competition has taken place behind closed doors, so it’s difficult to assess who, if anyone, has the edge and what each quarterback’s strengths and weaknesses are right now.
Shaw said quarterback competitions usually degenerate into quarterback controversies in the media and he doesn’t want distractions infiltrating camp.
"Every place where it’s not kept private turns into a circus," he said. "And this team is not about the circus, this team’s about the production on the field, so that’s why we just keep it among us."
Heading into camp, Nottingham — Luck’s backup last year — had the edge in arm strength, while Nunes — the team’s top understudy in 2010 — had a better grapple of the playbook.
But Shaw said those distinctions are no longer accurate.
"Josh [Nunes] has worked it really hard physically and improved his entire body strength and athleticism and Brett [Nottingham] took the whole summer to master the playbook, so it’s really even on all levels," he said.
Shaw said Hogan’s maturing quickly. He’s a big kid (6-foot-4, 224 pounds) who can get out of the pocket when the play breaks down and still make all of his reads.
"He’s just keeps making plays," Shaw said. "He’s still a young quarterback, he still makes young mistakes, but this next week to 10 days will be really good for him."
While Hogan’s yet to take a snap in a live game, Nottingham, a Monte Vista High School (Danville) product, saw action in six games last year, completing 5-of-8 passes, including a 39-yard touchdown to Coby Fleener in the season opener.
Nunes completed one of two passes while backing up Luck in 2010, but he lost the gig last year after suffering a foot injury.
Cardinal fans will get a chance to make their own assessments Sunday when Stanford holds an open scrimmage at Elliott Field from
10 a.m. to noon.
Stanford kicks off the 2012 football season in 16 days and still no word about who will replace Andrew Luck under center.