#10 Stanford Football 2012 Preview

Stanford Cardinal

Overall Rank: #10
#3 Pac-12
Stanford College Football 2012 Team Preview
Stanford Team Page


Stanford just ended an era unlike any they have had in recent memory.  Andrew Luck, their once-in-a-generation talent at quarterback, led them to a 31-8 record during his illustrious career under center.  David Shaw took over the head coaching duties in Luck’s last year, and Stanford did not miss a beat.  After a tough loss in overtime to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl, preparations began for life without Luck moving forward.  Shaw knows football and he has some pretty good pieces in place, including leading rusher Stepfan Taylor.  The Cardinal lost a lot of potency since last season ended but the Cardinal still believe they can win.  The 2012 season will be a good test.

2011 Record: (11-2)
2011 Bowl:  Fiesta Bowl vs Oklahoma State (L 38-41)
Coach: David Shaw (11-2)
Offensive Coordinator: Pep Hamilton
Defensive Coordinator:  Derek Mason

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Stepfan Taylor, RB, 1,330 yards
Passing: Brett Nottingham, QB, 78 yards
Receiving: Ty Montgomery, WR, 350 yards
Tackles: Jarek Lancaster, LB, 70
Sacks: Chase Thomas, LB, 8.5
Interceptions: Three tied at 1

Other Key Returnees: LB Trent Murphy, DE Ben Gardner, TE Levine Toilolo, TE Zach Ertz, OL David Yankey, LB Shayne Skov

Key Losses: QB Andrew Luck, TE Coby Fleener, WR Chris Owusu, WR Griff Whalen, CB Michael Thomas, OT Jonathan Martin

Stanford was a well-balanced team on both sides of the ball.  They ranked top-20 in rushing offense and top-25 in passing.  Their total offensive output per game was about 490 yards and they put up over 43 points per game.  Those are staggering numbers.  Obviously, a lot of that is attributed to Luck.  He led the offense the way Peyton Manning leads his offenses in the NFL.  He also was hardly ever hit in the backfield.  He is athletic enough to escape, but he also had a solid offensive line.  The defense hardly ever got through.  Defensively, Stanford may have surprised some people with their ability to stop the run.  They were third in the country last year in rushing defense.  They also got after the quarterback.  They were second in the conference in sacks at three per game.

It is difficult to pick a weakness on an 11-2 team, but the main issue was their pass defense.  They were one of the worst in the nation giving up over 250 yards per game.  Also, they were able to outscore teams that did not have as strong of an offense as they did, but the Cardinal could not adjust defensively when they faced offenses that could score right along with them throughout a game (see Oregon and Oklahoma State).  Oregon held the Stanford offense to the second lowest output of the season while putting up 50 points on their defense.  In-game adjustments against strong teams will need to be better in 2012.

The Bottom Line:
Stanford certainly has what it takes to be a good team again in 2012.  Shaw has been around the program enough to have built something that can win consistently for a few years running.  The issue is that they lost such incredible talent that it will be near impossible to duplicate it this coming season.  Luck’s backup last year, Brett Nottingham, threw for less than 100 yards.  That’s hardly a big enough sample size to know if he is going to be able to handle the load.  A lot will fall on the shoulders of Taylor moving forward.  They are still one of the upper echelon teams in the Pac-12.  But can they get past Oregon and USC?  It will be difficult.  A nine or 10-win season is likely for the Cardinal, and that would be one heck of a year.

Projected Bowl:  Alamo Bowl

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 210.62 (18th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense:  278.69 (22, 6)
Total Offense: 489.31 (8, 2)
Scoring Offense: 43.15 (7, 2)
Rushing Defense: 84.38 (3, 1)
Pass Defense: 253.23 (95, 7)
Total Defense: 337.62 (26, 2)
Scoring Defense: 21.92 (30, 2)
Turnover Margin: .38 (30, 4)
Sacks: 3.00 (11, 2)
Sacks Allowed: .85 (7, 2)

Madness 2013 NFL Draft Rankings:
#69 Shayne Skov
#74 Chase Thomas

Madness 2012 Football Recruit Rankings:
#8 Kyle Murphy
#24 Andrus Peat
#35 Joshua Garnett
#52 Noor Davis
#67 Alex Carter
#84 Barry Sanders
#94 Aziz Shittu
#201 Graham Shuler
#209 Jordan Watkins
#230 Brandon Fanaika