#5 Stanford Football 2014 Preview

Stanford Cardinal

Overall Rank: #5
#2 Pac-12

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Stanford has been among the college football elite ever since Andrew Luck came to town and led them to an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.  Even after Jim Harbaugh left, David Shaw was the perfect replacement for him.  He has maintained success with different quarterbacks, and he has taken down recent Pac-12 giant Oregon several times.  Last year, the Cardinal made it back to the Rose Bowl for the second consecutive year and their fourth straight BCS bowl bid.  This season, they should continue to be in the mix.  This time for a playoff berth.

2013 Record: 11-3, 7-2
2013 Bowl: Rose Bowl vs. Michigan State (L 20-24)
Coach: David Shaw (34-7 at Stanford, 34-7 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Bloomgren
Defensive Coordinator: Lance Anderson

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kevin Hogan, QB, 355 yards
Passing: Kevin Hogan, QB, 2,630 yards
Receiving: Ty Montgomery, WR, 958 yards
Tackles: AJ Tarpley, LB, 93
Sacks: James Vaughters, LB, 4.0
Interceptions: Jordan Richards, S, 3

Other Key Returnees: SS/KR Kodi Whitfield, CB Wayne Lyons

Key Losses: RB Tyler Gaffney, LB Shane Skov, LB Trent Murphy

Stanford will be an excellent team this season.  Most of their units will be strong across the board.  But Stanford’s defense should continue to be dominant even after losing some stalwarts on that side of the ball.  Shaw has been able to replenish talent just as quickly as he loses it.  Last year the unit gave up less than 400 yards per game and only 19 points.  The Pac-12 is a very talented conference.  Any defense that can stymie the speed and quality of these offenses is among the best in the country.  Stanford may not put up quite the same defensive numbers this year after losing the nation’s sack leader in Trent Murphy.  Still, they ranked third in the nation in stopping the run and turned teams one-dimensional.  The evolution of Kevin Hogan at quarterback will also be great for this team.  He showed flashes last year of the quarterback he can be as the full time starter.  He was more consistent at the end of the season.  He may be given more responsibility to lead the offense this year after losing a great running back in Tyler Gaffney.
The issue will be whether or not Stanford can maintain dominance in the areas that propelled them to so much success last year.  Even though Shaw recruits as well as anyone in the country, losing the best pass rusher in the nation and the team’s top running option is never something a coach wants in the same off-season.  It remains to be seen if the new starters on defense can uphold what last year’s team was able to accomplish.  Offensively, the coaches will look to eliminate turnovers.  Hogan threw ten interceptions last year.  Depending on his development, that number should go down.  The Cardinal also lost nine fumbles in 2013.  This offense can be much better if mistakes like loose ball-handling are eliminated.

The Bottom Line:
Stanford will unquestionably be competing with Oregon and UCLA for the Pac-12 title.  Can they duplicate last season’s successes?  It remains to be seen.  Replenishing high-level talent is not an easy task, even if Shaw has done it so well over the last few seasons.  No matter what, Stanford should have one of the conference’s best defenses.  In Hogan’s second full year as a starter, he should make a leap to one of the top quarterbacks in the conference.  The Pac-12 is a difficult road, but the Cardinal should win at least ten games again this season if not more.

Projected Bowl: Cotton Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 207.4 (22nd in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 197.9 (92, 11)
Total Offense: 405.4 (69, 9)
Scoring Offense: 32.3 (45, 7)
Rushing Defense: 89.4 (3, 1)
Pass Defense: 124.4 (55, 6)
Total Defense: 343.1 (16, 2)
Scoring Defense: 19.0 (10, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.0 (61, 8)
Sacks: 3.14 (5, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.14 (11, 1)

Madness 2015 NFL Draft Rankings:
#11 Andrus Peat
#30 Alex Carter
#34 Kevin Hogan
#37 Jordan Richards
#54 Wayne Lyons
#60 Ty Montgomery
#69 Henry Anderson
#97 A.J. Tarpley

Madness 2014 Recruit Rankings:
#26 Solomon Thomas
#36 Casey Tucker
#66 Keller Chryst
#84 Christian McCaffrey
#123 Dalton Schultz
#190 Joey Alfieri


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