It's always great to get back to shooting football, but the handful of NFL preseason games are no match for the excitement of the first game that actually counts. This year it was Stanford vs San Jose State, and despite the absolute blowout, shooting real football after eight months of not shooting football is like freebasing adrenaline. The vibe on the Stanford campus is euphoric, not because they have a ton of starters back, (they do) but because of last year's Heisman runner up (and this year's big favorite) Andrew Luck decision to return. I'm feeling pretty fortunate as well these days. After shooting Cal football for the past few seasons, I decided to switch to Stanford to avoid shooting football at the massively unsuited-for-football AT&T Park where Cal is playing while Memorial Stadium is undergoing renovations. This decision was made long before Luck decided to skip the NFL draft, and is a nice bonus, as is shooting in the late afternoon light that spills just over the rim of Stanford Stadium.
On the minus side, I hate the Stanford Tree:
Also on the minus side, unlike Cal, Stanford doesn't take the field in a fog of liquid nitrogen:
Before the game, I made as many pictures of Luck warming up as possible:
Not that long ago when I covered high school football, Usua Amanam was a star running back at Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, and I shot him many times. He's now a cornerback/kick returner as a redshirt sophomore:
As soon as the game started, the pictures started. I decided to shoot as much as possible in the end zone facing Stanford, both on offense and defense. So when San Jose State running back Ina Liaina couldn't catch up to this pass, I had a nice angle on the play:
One of my favorite pictures from last year was this one of Stanford Running back Stepfan Taylor flying over the line for a touchdown against USC. Taylor is back, chewing up yardage on every touch:
On the next drive, I was tracking Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov and noticed his eyes getting bigger and bigger, as he and teammates closed in on San Jose State quarterback Matt Faulkner:
On the other side of the ball, Luck didn't do anything spectacular, but didn't really have to:
Luck made a nice throw to tight end Levine Toilolo, but San Jose State cornerback Brandon Driver was able to get a hand in Toilolo's face and force the drop:
San Jose State wide receiver Jabari Carr is another player I covered in high school when he was at Oak Grove. He made acrobatic catches then, and makes acrobatic catches now:
San Jose State wide receiver Noel Grigsby found out what's it's like to play against a real defense:
With the clock winding down and Stanford's third string in the game against SJSU's second string, I was contemplating cutting out to get some pictures on the wire, but I was too happy shooting, and was rewarded with Stanford tight end Coby Fleener's touchdown catch:
While I do have a couple of Raiders and 49ers games coming up, I still have to make it nearly a month until the next Stanford home game, against UCLA on Oct 1...