Pac-12 Networks preview: Stanford
This post is one in a series of 12 as we visit each Pac-12 school on the Pac-12 Networks Football Training Camp tour. Check Pac-12.com in advance of each school's Football Training Camp stop for a quick season preview ahead of that night's show.
Sounds nice, make it thrice? That’s what Stanford is thinking as they embark on their journey towards a third consecutive Pac-12 title and Rose Bowl appearance. The Cardinal is seeking its fifth straight season of winning 11 or more games after having just three 10-win seasons in the previous 103 years of playing football (Note: Stanford had three 10-win seasons in 1908 and 1914-1915, but under rugby-style rules). At Stanford they don’t rebuild, they reload. Alright now put on your #NerdNation glasses and let’s #GoStanford!
- Offensively the Cardinal returns just four starters. Normally if you lose four starters on the offensive line and your starting backfield, you’d be worried. Not so much for the Trees as they still have #Statisfaction legend and junior quarterback Kevin Hogan. All he’s done is begin his career 16-3 as a starter including 10-1 against ranked opponents. They also bring back dynamic wide receiver Ty Montgomery who led the team with 61 catches, 958 yards, and 10 touchdown catches in 2013. Montgomery collected 2,208 all-purpose yards in 2013, finishing just shy of the program’s all-time mark of 2,234, set by Glyn Milburn in 1992. The Cardinal stable of running backs which includes Kelsey Young, Barry Sanders, Remound Wright, and Ricky Seale will have to carry the load after the loss of workhorse Tyler Gaffney. Returning running backs on the roster combined for 50 carries, 288 yards, and three touchdowns in 2013, while Gaffney had the second-most carries (330) and second-most rushing yards (1,709) in Stanford history in 2013.
- On the defensive side of the ball, the Cardinal brings back seven starters on what has been one of the most dominant defenses in the country the past four years. Lance Anderson takes over as the defensive coordinator for Derek Mason who is now the head coach at Vanderbilt. He’ll have to absorb the loss of studs like linebacker Trent Murphy (15 sacks in 2013), free safety Ed Reynolds (first-team All-Pac-12), as well as team captain and emotional leader, linebacker Shayne Skov (team-leading 109 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks) to the NFL. The Cardinal D returns three out of its four outstanding starting defensive backs (cornerback Alex Carter, cornerback Wayne Lyons, and strong safety Jordan Richards) who totaled 197 tackles, six interceptions, and 10.5 tackles for loss in 2013. Returning linebackers James Vaughters and A.J. Tarpley along with defensive end Henry Anderson and defensive tackle David Parry will carry on the tradition of the #PartyInTheBackfield that led the nation in sacks in each of the last two seasons (44 in 2013 and 57 in 2012).
- Offensive linemen are usually the unsung heroes on a football team (unless our guy Glenn Parker is calling the game). Not at Stanford. Offensive linemen take center stage on The Farm and Stanford’s awesome style of “intellectual brutality” begins up front. The Cardinal lost left guard David Yankey and right tackle Cameron Fleming early to the NFL as well as center Khalil Wilkes and right guard Kevin Danser to graduation and the NFL. The Stanford staff didn’t go to school just to eat there though. They brilliantly planned ahead and assembled an outstanding offensive line recruiting class in 2012 that led David Shaw to say, "This could be one of the best offensive line classes in modern football history.” That 2012 class has a good shot to take over as the entire starting O-line in 2014. Phenomenal left tackle Andrus Peat returns to anchor the left side of the line and he’ll most likely be joined by left guard Joshua Garnett and right tackle Kyle Murphy, amongst others like Graham Shuler and Johnny Caspers from the famed 2012 class.
- The one constant for Stanford football since the reinvention of the program starting in 2007 has been David Shaw. Jim Harbaugh began the process (2007-2010), but Coach Shaw has taken it to another level since 2011 and has built Stanford into the model institution for academic and football success. David Shaw started his head coaching career 34-7 overall, 23-4 in Pac-12 play, and became one of just three coaches to lead his team to BCS bowls in his first three years as head coach (Chip Kelly and Larry Coker). More importantly is the fact that Shaw, his staff, and the Stanford players have helped make it cool to be a smart football player. If you’ve read this far I highly suggest that you watch David Shaw’s Tedx Talk because it is extraordinary.
The Stanford defense ranked 1st in the Pac-12, allowing just 19 points per game in 2013. Has it been over or under 20 games in a row since the Stanford defense has allowed 30 points or more in a game?
Tweet me the answer @RyanMcGrady and we can become friends, talk ball, talk life, and talk academia.
(Credit: Stanford Sports Information Department. Much appreciation to Kurt Svoboda and Alan George who are top shelf. Shout out to Khari Jones too. He’s money.)