Last season was the first under coach David Shaw’s tenure that the team finished with less than 11 wins, finishing 8-5, which is dismal according to Cardinal expectations. Three of those losses were by three points, however, and the defense should be stronger this year than last. Stanford should be Oregon’s only challenger in the Pac-12 north this season, so should finish in a strong second position. There is also hope that offense will take it up yet another notch in Kevin Hogan’s last year at the helm.
How well Stanford does this year will largely hinge on Kevin Hogan, as the third year starter struggled at times last season. The tame did not produce a 1,000 yard rusher last year for the first time in 7 seasons, which as put a lot of pressure on the throwing arm of Hogan. This year look for the team to develop the running game a bit more, beginning with sophomore running back Christian McCaffrey. He has a solid end to last season. Remound Wright and Barry Sanders Jr. will both return as well, by McCaffrey is poised to get the bulk of the carries this season. The passing game will be as wide open as ever, with Devon Cajuste returning as the teams primary pass catcher. The Cardinal should become even more creative than normal with their offensive formations, running multiple tight send sets. They are some big bodies at that position in Austin Hooper, Eric Cotton, and Greg Taboada. Four of the five starters on the offensive line, so that is good news, although losing All-American tack Andrus Peat will be a major blow.
Stanford’s defense was not the reasons the team struggled last season. There dominate as usual, and they are positioned to be the same this year. They led the Pac-12 in total defense last season at 282.4 yards per game. Perhaps even more impressive is that allowed more than 100 fewer yards per game than Utah, which was the number 2 defense in the Pac-12 . At the linebacker position, outside backer Kevin Anderson and Peter Kalambayi are back. Those two combined last season for 12 sacks and 21 tackles for a loss. Stanford is also quite solid in the middle, with Blake Martinez and Kevin Plama returning. Martinez had a team leading 102 tackles last season.
The one downside to note is that the defense does have limited experience, and they are not deep. A few injuries to key players could cost them dearly in the standings. All in all, the Cardinal finished last season on a high note, playing great ball down the stretch. This should continue this coming year and they will give Oregon a run for their money.
Courtesy of iSportsweb.com