#11 Stanford 2018 Football Preview

Stanford Cardinal
Overall Rank: #11
#2 Pac-12
 Stanford Logo
As usual, Stanford won games with their defense last season. The Cardinal allowed just 22.7 points per game and went 7-2 in Pac-12 play. But this year things could be different. The defense must retool, but the offense could be the most explosive they have seen in Palo Alto in quite some time.
2017 Record: 9-5, 7-2
2017 Bowl: Alamo Bowl vs. TCU (L 37-39)
Coach: David Shaw (73-22 at Stanford, 73-22 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tavita Pritchard
Defensive Coordinator: Lance Anderson
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Bryce Love, RB, 2,118 yards
Passing: KJ Costello, QB, 1,573 yards
Receiving: JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR, 781 yards
Tackles: Bobby Okereke, LB, 94
Sacks: Bobby Okereke, LB, 4
Interceptions: Frank Buncom, S, 3
Other Key Returnees: WR Trenton Irwin, TE Caden Smith, OL Nate Herbig, OL Jesse Burkett, LB Jordan Perez, CB Alameen Murphy, S Ben Edwards, P Jake Bailey
Key Losses: OL David Bright, DL Harrison Phillips, S Justin Reid, CB Quinton Meeks, LB Peter Kalambayi
Running back Bryce Love was the Heisman Trophy runner-up and is one of the favorites to take home the honors in 2018. As a junior last year Love rushed for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns and he will once again lead this offense. With four starters back on the offensive line, few teams in the nation will have any luck stopping Love. And on those rare occasions when Love cannot do enough, quarterback KJ Costello is ready for a big sophomore season. Last year he threw for 1,573 yards and 14 touchdowns. Costello did not start at the beginning of the season and it took some time for him to get rolling, but he was playing very well by the end of the season. And with a year in the system, and his top four receivers back, the passing game could be surprisingly effective.
The front four has some serious issues. Dylan Jackson and Jovan Swann will have to bolster the pass rush, but they need help from the new defensive tackle who has the unenviable job of replacing Harrison Phillips. That job should fall to Michael Williams or Dalyn Wade-Perry. While the line rebuilds, Coach David Shaw may have to rely more heavily on the back eight, or occasionally the back nine. Linebacker Bobby Okereke is the team’s top returning tackler with 94 and Sean Barton will join him at inside linebacker after missing much of last season with an injury. Justin Reid and Quinton Meeks left early for the NFL and that leaves some big questions in the secondary. Alijah Holder, Alameen Murphy and Frank Buncom have starting experience though and there is the talent to replace much of the production.
The Bottom Line:
If Stanford can get some key new players on the defensive line, the defense should be fine. Coach Shaw can usually get new defensive players to step up, but this year it could take some time. There will not be too much time to get things rolling though with USC coming to town on September 8th. That will be a very fun and interesting early season conference game. As far as the Pac-12 North is concerned, the November 3rd trip to Washington could decide the divisional championship.
Projected Bowl: Fiesta Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 202.4 (30th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 186.3 (98, 11)
Total Offense: 388.6 (79, 10)
Scoring Offense: 32.4 (38, 6)
Rushing Defense: 169.0 (68, 7)
Pass Defense: 236.1 (81, 5)
Total Defense: 405.1 (76, 6)
Scoring Defense: 22.7 (34, 2)
Turnover Margin: 1.14 (4, 1)
Sacks: 2.29 (47, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 1.21 (15, 1)
Madness 2019 NFL Draft Rankings:
#21 Bryce Love
#51 Kaden Smith
#75 JJ Arcega-Whiteside
#78 Nate Herbig
Madness 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#56 Tanner McKee
#161 Jack West
#195 Andres Fox