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October 30, 2012

Cardinal QB Shakeup

Before the year began, Stanford coach David Shaw was adamant in his belief that two-quarterback systems aren't the way to go.

Eight games and several weeks of inconsistent quarterback play from starter Josh Nunes have changed his mind.

Shaw said redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan would see an increased role this week at Colorado, and would ideally play somewhere between 12 and 20 snaps.

"We'll see how it goes the rest of the year," Shaw said. "I think that Kevin has played so well in what we've given him to do that we can't not give him more."

Hogan has appeared in four games, but attempted just one pass - a 9-yard touchdown in the Big Game against Cal. Last week against Washington State, Hogan was sacked in the only time he dropped back to pass.

Known more as a runner, he has seven attempts for 16 yards, which included a sack that counted as a 12-yard loss.

Why the additional playing time, now?

"He's earning it," Shaw said. "Everything that we've given him, he's done exceptionally well. Kevin's athletic ability in space is special and we want to make sure that we utilize that."

Whether it will jumpstart the Cardinal's struggling offense remains to be seen, but something had to be done - and it's not just the passing game. Without having to account for much of a threat through the air, opposing teams have stacked the box and bottled up Stanford's running game too.

Stanford has the No. 9 ranked total offense in the Pac-12, but perhaps more surprising is that it is No. 7 in rushing. That's with arguably the best running back in school history in his senior year, Stepfan Taylor, and an offensive line generally regarded as one of the best in college football.

"We need to be more efficient in the passing game," Shaw said. "It's partially the quarterback and it's partially not the quarterback and we're addressing all of those."

Nunes has taken the reduced role in stride.

"He's done a lot of good things out there on the field and if it helps us get the 'W', then I'm all for it," Nunes said.

Hogan is expected to come in sometimes for just a play and other times for longer stretches, but regardless, it represents a philosophical difference for Shaw and the coaching staff.

"In our minds right now we're still, 'What is the best play for the situation? And who is the best guy to handle the situation?' Shaw said.

Call it a pre-quarterback controversy with the potential for a full-blown one if Hogan significantly outplays Nunes in Colorado.

"He's not ready to take it all right now," Shaw said, "and I'm not ready to take it all away from Josh."

Not yet, at least.

Follow @KyleBonagura on Twitter.


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