#20 Stanford Football 2019 Preview

Stanford Cardinal
Overall Rank: #20
#4 Pac-12
 Stanford Logo
Stanford was surprisingly bad running the ball last season and that resulted in a disappointing 6-3 record in Pac-12 play. The Cardinal have dominated the conference for nearly a decade with Coach David Shaw leading the way, but they have done it with a tough ground game and a dominating offensive line. That went away last season and it remains to be seen if Stanford can regain their identity.
2018 Record: 9-4, 6-3
2018 Bowl: Sun Bowl vs. Pittsburgh (W 14-13)
Coach: David Shaw (82-26 at Stanford, 82-26 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tavita Pritchard
Defensive Coordinator: Lance Anderson
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Cameron Scarlett, RB, 330 yards
Passing: KJ Costello, QB, 3,540 yards
Receiving: Colby Parkinson, TE, 485 yards
Tackles: Paulson Adebo, CB, 64
Sacks: Gabe Reid, LB, 5.5
Interceptions: Paulson Adebo, CB, 4
Other Key Returnees: OL Walker Little, LB Jordan Fox,  S Malik Antione, DL Michael Williams, DT Jovan Swann, DE Thomas Booker, K Jet Toner
Key Losses: RB Bryce Love, WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR Trenton Irwin, WR Kaden Smith, LB Bobby Okereke, LB Seth Barton, CB Alijah Holder, S Frank Buncom
Cameron Scarlett will likely step into the starting running back role after rushing for 330 yards on 79 carries last season. Scarlett could have a big season, but he will need some help from the offensive line. The line did do a good job protecting quarterback KJ Costello. Towards the end of last season Coach Shaw decided to throw more and let Costello do much of the work offensively. And that worked out quite well. Costello threw for 3,540 yards and 29 touchdowns and led Stanford to four straight wins to end the 2018 campaign. Osiris St. Brown, Connor Wedington and Michael Wilson are all decent wide receivers and tight end Colby Parkinson is the team’s top returning pass catcher with 29 receptions for 485 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
Without the offense eating up the clock, the defense was often put in a tougher situation than they are used to. The unit did not perform particularly well anyway. This group needs to get tougher and without linebackers Bobby Okereke and Seth Barton, it may not happen. The Cardinal may have to rely on two freshmen as their inside linebackers and that could be a big concern for the entire defense. Jordan Fox will be one of the pass rushers from the outside linebacker position and Jovan Swann will again get to the quarterback from his defensive end spot. Paulson Adebo was an All-Pac-12 performer as a freshman and the opposition is going to test the cornerback on the other side of the field.
The Bottom Line:
Stanford’s first four games are against Northwestern, USC, UCF and Oregon. That is a tough start to the season and, if things do not go well, the Cardinal could lose all their momentum from the end of last season. The slate does not get all that much easier after that either. This group is good enough to get back to a bowl game with near certainty, but if the ground game doesn’t improve, Stanford will have to put the ball in the air more than they would prefer and that could lead to another disappointing season.
Projected Bowl: RedBox Bowl
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 107.9 (122nd in nation, 11th in conference)
Passing Offense: 273.1 (25, 2)
Total Offense: 381.0 (85, 11)
Scoring Offense: 28.4 (72, 5)
Rushing Defense: 146.1 (45, 7)
Pass Defense: 264.0 (114, 11)
Total Defense: 410.1 (78, 9)
Scoring Defense: 22.9 (37, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.23 (46, 4)
Sacks: 2.77 (24, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.85 (43, 6)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#18 Walker Little
#24 Paulson Adebo
#68 K.J. Costello
#72 Colby Parkinson
Madness 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#98 Elijah Higgins
#136 Austin Jones
#174 Branson Bragg
#180 Joshua Pakola
#190 Stephen Herron Jr