With the departure of Nick Holt as the defensive coordinator at Washington, Stanford coach David Shaw had to get creative with film study in preparation for tonight's 6 p.m. game against Washington at Century Link Field.
Defensive game film of last year's 65-21 win -- and other Washington games -- was tossed out the window and replaced, at least partially, by that of the 2011 Tennesee Volunteers.
Shaw said they watched Tennesee to get an idea of what new Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, who coordinated the Tennessee defense last year, liked to do in certain situations.
"We've looked at a lot of the Tennessee stuff and their first three games," Shaw said. "It's a little different, it's not completely the same, but we've taken both into account - what they did at Tennessee and what they've put on film this year."
Personnel differences influenced some change in scheme, but not enough to where Shaw the found the Tennessee film of no use.
"For me, the biggest thing is looking at the situational stuff and all the blitzes they had, of course, at Tennessee," he said. "We covered a bunch of those. You want to look at red zone, all those things, and there's not a lot of carry over, but there little bit. We watch just enough to make sure our bases are covered."
Next week, Stanford will face a similar, but more extreme, situation when it prepares for Arizona, a team under the guidance of first year coach Rich Rodriguez. However, the deeper into the season, the less of an issue preparing for new schemes becomes. By the time the Cardinal prepares for first-year coaches at Washington State and UCLA later in the season, there will be plenty of game film to look through.
Stanford enters Thursday's game having won 11-straight games in September and Shaw became the first head coach since Chuck Taylor in 1951-52 to begin their career with a pair of 3-0 starts in the their first two seasons.
First-year starting quarterback Josh Nunes faces his first road test, but the even-keeled redshirt junior doesn't anticipate the road environment to change his approach. Just like he doesn't believe his second-half success against USC will serve as a confidence builder.
"What happened in the last game doesn't have anything to do with how we play in the next one," said Nunes, who has throw for 615 yards, 6 TD and 3 INTs in three games.
In all likelihood, his role throwing the ball will likely be minimal against the Huskies, who have five returning starters on defense. The Cardinal coaching staff has been content leaning on running back Stepfan Taylor, who ranks second in the Pac-12 in rushing at 112.7 yards per game (67 carries, 338 yards), behind UCLA's Johnathan Franklin (146.5 ypg).
The Huskies rank second in the conference against the pass (167 ypg) and just 11th against the run (174.7).
Washington running back Bishop Sankey ranks 11th in the conference at 61.7 rushing yards per game.
Quarterback Keith Price came into the season with a lot of buzz after his Alamo Bowl showdown with Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, in which Price went toe-to-toe with Griffin both as a passer (23 of 37 passing, 438 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT) and as a runner (5 carries, 39 yards, 3 TD). Washington lost 67-56, but Price was expected to be among the nation's elite quarterbacks this season.
No one is questioning his potential, but through three games his production hasn't matched it.