If you've read anything about Stanford Football over the past seven days, you know that people in all corners of Mighty Card Nation are calling for a change at the quarterback position. Since everyone else has weighed in, I figured I might as well make my statement, even if David Shaw is tired of the discussion.
Josh Nunes should be the quarterback.
Before you gather the villagers and light the torches, let me explain.
1. You Don't Know What You Think You Know
Here's what's going on. Aside from some great success against USC, Nunes has struggled. At first he was struggling in wins over San Jose State and Duke, but then he had difficulties in the loss to Washington, and immediately there were calls for his head. The assumption, of course, was that backup Brett Nottingham would be better.
Sometimes assumptions are wrong. I've been accused before of blindly supporting Shaw, but stick with me here. I don't think it can be questioned that Shaw and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton are in a much better position to judge Nunes and Nottingham than I am. They understand the mistakes he's making, they see the bad reads, the bad calls, and the bad throws, and they speak to him during the games.
More important than that, they know everything about Nottingham, and I know nothing. Not only did they evaluate him during the quarterback competition that started last spring and extended through the summer, but they also watch him every day in practice. If they thought Nottingham were better, he would be under center on Saturday. The very fact that he won't be should tell us something.
2. What if Nottingham Were to Start, But Fail?
We're not talking about trying a different player at inside linebacker or even running back. Switching quarterbacks is a drastic measure, something usually attempted only as a last result. If it works, the coach looks like a genius, but what if it doesn't? If Nottingham were to take over and perform similarly -- or worse -- what then? Could Shaw possibly bring back Nunes after taking the team away from him? Probably not.
3. Isn't It Possible that Nunes Actually Is Improving?
I can't imagine that there are too many more difficult things to do in college football than play quarterback for the Stanford Cardinal. Shaw's expectations for his quarterback are high, both in the mental and physical aspects of the game. What we see on Saturday afternoons might represent the bottom line, but I don't think Nunes is being evaluated on Sunday morning soley by his stat sheet or the quality of his throws. I'm sure he's being tested during film study, during practice, and even in conversations during the games.
While he might be having trouble hitting all this targets on the field, he just might be nailing every single target in the film room. It just might take a little while for that improvement to translate into on-field success.
4. Nunes Still Has the Support of His Teammates
Without question, Shayne Skov is the undisputed leader of this team. Whether he's inspiring his teammates with his fierce on-field play or a pregame speech, Skov has returned from last year's injury to regain his position as the heart and soul of the Stanford Cardinal. Here's what Skov tweeted just an hour after the game:
We win and lose as a team, hate to see ppl singling out members of this family. We will come back stronger— Shayne Skov (@ShayneSkov11) September 28, 2012
When a quarterback loses the lockerroom, that's when it's time to make a change. It's not time yet.