June 20, 2024
Ari Patu, Ashton Daniels and Justin Lamson are competing to start for Stanford coach Troy Taylor

Stanford coach Troy Taylor won’t announce the starting quarterback before the Cardinal play its season opener Friday night at Hawaii.

Junior Ari Patu and sophomores Ashton Daniels and Justin Lamson have been competing to replace Tanner McKee, last year’s starter who was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the sixth round of the NFL Draft this spring.

“Everyone will know right when the game starts,” Taylor said Monday.

What Taylor will then learn, along with everyone else, is how that starter will do. Patu and Daniels have a combined 31 pass attempts in their collegiate careers, while Lamson redshirted in 2021 at Syracuse and then tore his ACL last spring before transferring to Stanford.

“Our guys just don’t have a lot of experience, so how are they going to respond to game-like situations,” Taylor said. “Quarterbacks typically either get a lot better or they can get worse in a game. Quarterbacks are like tea bags. You don’t really know what you got until you put them in hot water.”

The quarterback situation isn’t the only uncertainty surrounding the Cardinal. The only returning starter on the offensive line, Levi Rogers, switched from guard to center, and the top two running backs are coming off season-ending injuries – E.J. Smith tore his meniscus last September and Casey Filkins injured his arm in October.

And all the players are adjusting to Taylor’s hurry-up, spread offense after playing a pro-style system under former coach David Shaw.

The inexperience up and down the lineup is one reason Stanford was picked to finish last in the preseason Pac-12 poll after going 3-9 last season.

“Our guys love football. They love playing, they love competing, they love practicing. Those things I know for sure,” Taylor said. “What we don’t know is, we’re so inexperienced, how is this team going to react when something doesn’t go right, because that’s how football works. What is our resiliency? How mentally tough are we?”

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There won’t be as much mystery around Hawaii (0-1). The Rainbow Warriors played their opener last Saturday, a 35-28 loss at Vanderbilt. That means the Cardinal was able to scout its opponent, but also that Hawaii was able to work out the kinks.

“They definitely have an advantage, it being their second game,” Taylor said. “I believe you improve a ton from Game 1 to Game 2. It becomes very clear what you need to work on. They’ll improve a lot, they’ll be a little bit more calm going into this second game.”

But under Taylor’s policy, at least they won’t know which quarterback to prepare for.

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