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What’s Up With Nate Herbig and Stanford’s Offensive Line?

The biggest question from the first half of Stanford’s football season has been what is wrong with Stanford’s offensive line?

To quote a former foe of the Cardinal, Aaron Rodgers: R-E-L-A-X, relax.

First, Stanford has produced several athletes along the offensive line that are currently starring on Sundays. Coaches Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw have produced several top picks In the NFL over the last decade. Cardinal fans have come to believe that this is what Stanford will have on the field every Saturday.

This is not the case this season.

Stanford has a young offensive line, loaded with talent, but has fallen victim to the injury bug this season. The Cardinal are also trying to adjust to a new offensive coordinator. Longtime assistant Mike Bloomgren moved on to greener pastures.

NOW and the FUTURE

As of right now, only Nate Herbig at guard has the eye of any NFL scouts. Herbig, also known as the “Big Island”, has not had the greatest year. Herbig has recently fallen victim injury and many say is still in need of seasoning.

2017 PAC-12 co-offensive Freshman of the Year Walker Little has been unfairly saddled with a lot of the scrutiny. Little has been lined up with a litany of what seems to be a different line-mate every week due to injury.

In football, the game revolves around continuity. The Cardinal are in a constant state of flux along the line and the team is also adjusting to a new offensive coordinator with former Cardinal QB Tavita Pritchard taking the reigns this season.

Injury Issue Or A Coaching Issue?

Now, the injuries are only a percentage of the issues regarding the offensive line. Coach David Shaw has not deviated from his ultimate game plan all season. Teams have decided to load the defensive box on most snaps with eight or nine men.

This is overloading the line on every snap. Basically, teams are saying that the Cardinal will have to beat them in the air and not on the ground. They thought is Bryce Love will not be beating us today. Hence why Bryce Love only has gained 348 yards in 5 games played.

After the loss to Utah, and slight victory over ASU, Coach Shaw was peppered with questions about why the Cardinal are not switching up the offensive approach. He answered a slight bit annoyed to the group that “Stanford is a run first team that will open up the offensive game plan with the run option”. However, he did admit that adjustments are necessary.

Now, even though the Cardinal have struggled, they are still 5-2.  There is still a lot to be hopeful for in the future. JJ Arecega-Whiteside has taken that next step into being a force as a receiver, tight ends Colby Parkinson and Kaden Smith are practically un-coverable one-on-one, and QB KJ Costello has shown signs of improvement. Coach Shaw has pointed out, there is still much room for growth in every position, including the coaching staff.

Adjustments

The game of football is all about who can make the best adjustment. Coach Shaw has been the most successful coach on the farm that has ever graced the Cardinal sidelines. Is he stubborn with the play calling? Most definitely!

Fans have to remember, this is the coach that has a .762 winning percentage, 3 PAC-12 Championships, and been to a bowl game seven years in a row. Coach Shaw will stick to his system, but also knows that an adjustment needs to be made for the future.

So again – Cardinal fans and pundits – to repeat the words of Aaron Rodgers – R-E-L-A-X, relax. The line should be healthy soon and look for Coach Shaw to make adjustments, just as he has done every year.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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