College Football Preview: The 2014 Stanford Cardinal
2014 College Football Preview
Odds to Win National Championship: 40-1 See the Latest Odds
Overview: For the fourth straight season, the Stanford Cardinal won double-digit games and reached a BCS bowl. Last season, Stanford won 11 games and looked like a championship team at times but suffered two bizarre losses to Utah and USC. On the flipside, Stanford dominated ranked opponents such as Washington, UCLA, Oregon and Notre Dame. Stanford proved once again that a physical style of football and power running game still has a place in today’s college game. Now, the next step for head coach David Shaw and his guys is competing for a national championship.
Offense: Quarterback Kevin Hogan returns for another year after a mediocre season that include 20 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. Hogan is a dual-threat quarterback who is capable of so much more and should take that next step in his third year as the starter for Stanford. Of course, it helps that Stanford’s wide receiver position is absolutely loaded with guys such as Ty Montgomery, Devon Cajuste, and Michael Rector. In fact, Stanford is so loaded at wide receiver that Kodi Whitfield has moved to safety. Running back is somewhat of a concern for the Cardinal, as they don’t have that one workhorse runner they like to use throughout the year. Instead, a combination of Remound Wright, Barry Sanders, Ricky Seale and Kelsey Young will be used. Stanford also has to replace four starters along the offensive line. All in all, this unit is likely going to experience growing pains early on but has the potential to be very good once we get the season rolling a few games in.
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Defense: Stanford’s defense has been its bread and butter the last several years, but the loss of defensive coordinator Derek Mason can’t help. Stanford also lost two of its top three tacklers from last year in Shayne Skov and Ed Reynolds, all while losing its sack leader in Trent Murphy. Overall, Stanford’s defense is going to look a lot different from a year ago and is going to be a lot younger. Linebacker A.J. Tarpley is now going to be the leader of this unit and he’s a nice piece to build around after finishing second on the team in tackles last season. Kevin Anderson looks to build on last season’s three sacks, and defensive backs Jordan Richards and Wayne Lyons did combine for five picks last year. While there are still solid pieces in place, Stanford’s defense has a lot of growing up to do if it’s going to be anywhere close to what it was last season.
Special Teams: Jordan Williamson returns as the field goal kicker after making 18 of 22 attempts, while punter Ben Rhyne returns after averaging close to 43 yards per kick.
Outlook: I think everybody has learned not to doubt Stanford as long as Shaw is running the show. It’s one of the few college teams we have left that still plays with an old school style. However, Stanford has changed a lot on the defensive side of the ball and has a brutal schedule that includes road games against Notre Dame, Arizona State, Oregon and UCLA. Did this team lose a bet? Speaking of betting, there is value to Stanford winning the championship at +4000, simply because it’s physical style of play gives most teams fits. However, we must see how the defense responds after so many changes.