STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — David Shaw was an assistant on the Baltimore Ravens in the fall of 2005 when he heard about the most unlikely upset: UC Davis 20, Stanford 17.
"I just remember I had a pit in my stomach as an alum," Shaw said.
The Cardinal have come so far since that stunning loss to a lower-tier California school that Shaw sees no reason to talk about it now. Instead, he is focused on taking the two-time defending Pac-12 champions even further, starting Saturday when No. 11 Stanford opens its season against an overmatched Aggies team.
And with a big game against No. 15 Southern California looming next week, Shaw is as eager as anybody to get a glimpse of his retooled team in action.
"When things come up, things flying all over the place, how they handle all the changes, how they handle all those things, how they handle things that come up right before a play that maybe they hadn't seen and we prepared them for, can they handle those things? And how do they handle those things? That's what I'm fascinated about it," Shaw said.
Stanford should have an easier time breaking in a new running back, four new starters on the offensive line and five new starters on defense than it will next week.
UC Davis, which plays in the Football Championship Subdivision, finished 5-7 last season. The Aggies also will be starting a new quarterback and their top two running backs are out with injuries.
UC Davis coach Ron Gould said he knows his team faces quite a challenge, but he's counting on his players to compete hard and do all they can to give Stanford a scare.
"We're definitely playing one of the pre-eminent football powerhouses in the country," Gould said. "We have to make sure we don't get outside ourselves. We have to focus on what our assignments are and we've got to play extremely well."
Here are some things to watch when Stanford hosts UC Davis:
IN THE TRENCHES: Stanford's reconstructed offensive line will have a major size advantage on UC Davis' defensive line. The Cardinal's front line features four new starters and one of the country's top left tackles in Andrus Peat, but Shaw expects the unit — all part of the acclaimed 2012 recruiting class — to be as good or better than any he has had before.
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