Stanford is the latest team we’ll break down in our “Makeup of the Pac-12 North” series. The Cardinal are always well coached and fundamentally sound — and don’t expect that to change. But a lot of its hopes this season will rest on senior quarterback Kevin Hogan. Can he elevate his game enough to help Stanford overcome a lot of its losses.
Who it lost:
Stanford tied USC for the most players drafted from the Pac-12 with 6: Jr. OL Andrus Peat, Sr. S Jordan Richards, Jr. CB Alex Carter, Sr. DE Henry Anderson, Sr. WR Ty Montgomery, and Sr. DT David Parry. It also lost staring LB A.J. Tarpley, CB Wayne Lyons, K Jordan Williamson, and P Ben Rhyne to graduation. That’s a lot of experience and talent that has to be replaced throughout the team, especially on defense.
Who it returns:
The Cardinal return 13 starters, including eight on offense. Leading the way is Hogan, who will have running backs Kelsey Young and Barry Sanders in the backfield with him. In front of that trio will be four of last year’s starting offensive linemen. On defense, five starters, including three linebackers, are back. So the offense, despite the loss of Montgomery, could be strong.
Peat is a big loss, but other than him, Stanford returns its entire offensive line from last season. The experience and continuity upfront should enable the Cardinal running game to do well and keep pressure off Hogan who will be adjusting to life without Montgomery. Young and Sanders are both capable backs who should thrive behind this unit.
You don’t lose six starters on defense and not feel it. So could this finally be the year that the Cardinal struggle defensively? Losing Anderson and Parry in the middle is huge. They were responsible for creating the push up front that allowed Stanford to plug the gaps so well last season. Plus, it doesn’t help this unit also lost 3/4ths of its secondary.
Way Too Early Prognostication:
With all it lost from last season and some weaker recruiting classes in recent years, Stanford could be in for a slide this year. There could be some early struggles for sure. But again, after Oregon, it’s anyone’s guess in the Pac-12 North. And you can’t underestimate the importance of having a senior QB and and experienced line. I’ll go with a third-place finish behind Oregon and California.