What Did Irish Legend Tim Brown Say To Stanford’s David Shaw This Week?
Over the past several years, Stanford and Notre Dame have become bitter rivals, with the two programs facing off every season since 1997.
During that time, the Fighting Irish have won 12 of the 19 contests, but the Cardinal has been victorious in seven of the last 10.
The two programs also compete on the recruiting trail, with both going after many of the same academically inclined football players. This only intensifies the rivalry on the field, which has an impact on who wins the recruiting battles.
Yet, despite the antagonistic relationship between Notre Dame and Stanford, Irish legend Tim Brown and Cardinal head coach David Shaw apparently talk to one another every year before the two teams play in their annual matchup.
“I was texting with my good friend Tim Brown the other day,” Shaw said. “Usually, we touch base. He wishes us well, but not too well. One of the things we talked about is this is one of the better Notre Dame defenses they’ve had in the last few years.
“They’ve had some good ones, a lot of first-round draft picks, a lot of really good players. These guys make it tough.”
Brown and Shaw likely became friends when they were both part of the Oakland Raiders organization — Shaw as an assistant coach and Brown as the team’s leading wide receiver (along with Jerry Rice, of course).
Ever since then, the two have stayed in touch.
Their friendship aside, they’re both right to praise the current Notre Dame defense.
Shaw is particularly impressed with Notre Dame’s front seven.
“Defensively they don’t have the massive human beings they’ve had on the defensive line the last couple years, but they’re extremely active,” the Stanford coach noted. “Their scheme fits their personnel extremely well — quick, explosive and physical up front.
“Linebackers that scrape and fill and can cover. So that’s another challenge to try and establish the run.”
How Does Stanford’s Season Compare To Notre Dame In 2016?
Assuming Notre Dame is victorious on Saturday, Stanford will finish the season 4-8, which is the same record the Irish had in the horrid 2016 season.
That would be a low point for the Cardinal for the decade.
Coming into 2019 fall camp, Shaw and Stanford were averaging more than 10 wins a season over the last eight years. During that span, the fewest number of games Stanford won in a season was eight and, on two separate occasions, the team won 12.
After Notre Dame went 4-8, head coach Brian Kelly had no choice but to overhaul the program, but Shaw indicated that Stanford will not be making those same drastic changes.
“No, I think everyone in our program knows what we’re capable of and knows what we have in the building,” he said. “There will be guys after this game who have to make some tough decisions. Regardless of any of those decisions, I think the team that is going to come back and play on our field next year has a chance to be really, really good.”
Some of this is because Stanford’s issues stem from an exceptional number of injuries, especially along the offensive line and in the secondary.
“But a large portion of our freshmen and sophomores have been getting a lot of game action,” Shaw added. “As unfortunate as some of it has been, guys have come through with outstanding performances. From our two young backs, to our three offensive linemen ... to our fourth young offensive lineman [Drake Nugent], who had to come in and play in his home state and had an outstanding play.
“To our secondary, we’ve had a freshman playing corner, a freshman playing nickel, freshmen ready to come as No. 2s all over the place. A freshman came in and had to play a significant portion at inside linebacker.”
In their most recent game against Cal, Stanford also lost one of its leading receivers in junior Connor Wedington. Senior quarterback KJ Costello is likely also out, but his junior backup Davis Mills is just as talented, if not more so, and has a high completion percentage this season.
Will Stanford Be Able To Contain Ian Book?
When healthy, the Stanford defense has been an area of strength for the team, but they’ve still had issues when it comes to containing quarterbacks with the ability to run.
“They’ve been able to do well if they weren’t playing a mobile quarterback,” Jacob Rayburn of Cardinal Sports Report said. “That was a big deal. If they’re playing a mobile quarterback, that’s a big problem for this defense.”
This was an issue for Stanford in their 24-20 loss to Cal. Golden Bears quarterback Chase Garbers lead his team in rushing with 72 yards.
This means that Book, who has led the Irish in rushing each of the last four games, should be able to have success this weekend.
“We addressed it again yesterday, both in talking about Cal, but also talking about Notre Dame with another quick, explosive, athletic quarterback,” Shaw said. “Understand the integrity of where you need to be and even if you don’t get to the quarterback, especially inside, you have to play with extension. You have to be able to have the guy’s body off your body so if the quarterback does run we can shed and get on him like we did a couple of times on Saturday.
“You have to play with that extension and, at the same time, you have to be able to contain the quarterback.”