STANFORD -- Kevin Hogan hasn't missed a game due to injury -- hasn't even missed a meaningful series, in fact -- since he took over as Stanford's starting quarterback late in the 2012 season.
If that should change this season, Evan Crower is ready. Finally.
The redshirt junior has made significant strides in his understanding of the playbook and established himself as "a guy who's ready to play for us," according to coach David Shaw.
Crower, who grew up in San Diego, committed to the Cardinal under former coach Jim Harbaugh in the fall of his junior year at St. Augustine High.
His experience to this point consists of four mop-up appearances last season in which he threw just 15 passes -- hardly an indication of his ability to execute in pressure situations against top-tier opponents.
But the 6-foot-5 left-hander was sharp in spring practice and distanced himself from redshirt freshman Ryan Burns. Crower is aware of the unique role of the backup quarterback, who is the least important player on the roster until he's the most important.
"Anything can happen, so I have to stay ready," he said. "I take mental reps (in practice) when I'm not in there, and that goes a long way. I try to learn as much as I can from Kevin -- anything to get an edge."
The difference this season, Crower believes, is his command of the offense in general and the running game in particular. He's better able to recognize the defensive fronts and switch into more advantageous plays at the line of scrimmage.
"He's really playing well," Shaw said. "He's continuing what he did in the spring ... If Kevin breaks his shoelace, Evan is going in to run the whole show."
The starting tailback, inside linebacker and safety will be announced next week with the release of the depth chart.
Montgomery, who had offseason shoulder surgery, uses a yellow jersey in practice to remind would-be tacklers to stay away.
"I hate the yellow jersey," he said.
Shaw expressed concern in late July about Montgomery's availability for the opener and the Week 2 showdown against USC. But the senior has shown no ill effects from the surgery during camp.
"I don't want to talk about my shoulder too much, but I feel good," he said.
"It helps break up the last week of camp," Shaw said.
For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner's College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports.
UC Davis at Stanford, 1 p.m., Pac-12 Networks