It’s time for the Barry Sanders show at Stanford. Playing behind seniors Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson, Sanders (5-10,190) only had 5 carries for 42 yards, but it’s time for his breakout year. That’s probably just wishful thinking on my part because his dad was a personal hero. It appears that fellow Stanford RB Remound Wright (5-9,205) may be the starter in 2014. Ricky Seale (5-9-205) and Kelsey Young (5-10,185) are little used seniors that may need to play and RB will need to be a recruiting priority next year.
Stanford always has a good OL and the 2014 season should be no different. They did lose several starters, but when one of your returning starters is Andrus Peat (6-7,310), you have a shot at a good OL already.
Peat is a former 5 star recruit out of Chandler, Arizona and most likely a high pick in next year’s NFL draft. He will be the Left Tackle and protect the QB’s blind side in 2014.
Right tackle should be Kyle Murphy (6-7,300). Murphy started 2 games as a true freshman in 2012 and played a lot in 2013. Murphy’s older brother went to Harvard and now plays for the Minnesota Vikings.
Stanford had an outstanding offensive line class in 2012 with 3 from that class starting some as true freshmen. Peat, Murphy and Joshua Garnett (6-5,315) all started some in 2012. Garnett should move into the Left Guard spot right next to Peat. He played behind future NFL player David Yankey. Garnett was rated as either the 2nd or 3rd best OG prospect in the country coming out of high school and he is living up to his billing.
Johnny Caspers (6-4,300) should be the next RG replacing the graduating Kevin Danser. Center lost the top 2 guys to graduation, but Graham Shuler (6-4,280) played a little in 2013 and will need to tae over in 2014.
Of course, Stanford has plenty of depth here and they have some more good recruits coming in this season. The best of the lot should be Casey Tucker (6-6,290) and like Andrus Peat hails from Chandler, Arizona. What do they put in the water in Chandler, Arizona?
Kevin Hogan (6-4,230) is back at QB and to nobody’s really big surprise there has been a little bit of a drop off from the great Andrew Luck. However, Hogan has had his moments and threw for 2600 yards a year ago, and should do at least as well if not way better this season with the return of his top WRs.
In case Hogan is injured, Stanford has Evan Crower (6-5,215) returning as a back up. He is a lefty from San Diego that has played sparingly. They also have hot shot redshirt Freshman Ryan Burns (6-5,220) from Leesburg, Virginia. He was one of the top recruits in the country a year ago. This year, they added 4 star recruit Keller Chryst (6-4,235) from nearby Palo Alto High School. He was the 3rd rated pro style QB in this year’s class. Should be an interesting battle next year between Chryst and Burns.
Dallas Lloyd (6-3,210) played a little last season but is more of a running QB and may be their guy in a wildcat situation.
Receiving corps is in good shape with the return of super Ty Montgomery (6-2,215). He had nearly a thousand yards in receiving a year ago and is dangerous. Ty Montgomery is also a dynamic return man finishing 2nd in the nation in kick off return yardage and had 2 TDs. Montgomery has great size for a WR and especially great size for a return specialist.
The other WRs need to step up a bit but they have the potential to do just that. Devon Cajuste (6-4,230) , Michael Rector (6-1,190) and Kodi Whitfield (6-2,195) combined for 58 catches which was 3 short of Montgomery’s 61, but they have talent. Whitfield has been moved to Safety in the Spring but may still be available here.
Francis Owusu (6-3,210) played a little as a true freshman and is primed for a breakout year.
Jordan Pratt (6-3,210) returns for his senior season and should play a lot. I am not sure what plans the Stanford staff has for 4 star freshman to be Christian McCaffery (6-0,200). He played all over the field in high school and he lacks the height of his famous father, but the kid is a player and should contribute somewhere.
Stanford was without it’s normal dominating TE last season and that needs to be corrected. Eric Cotton (6-6,245) , Austin Hooper (6-4,255) , and Greg Toboada (6-5,230) will be the top 3 guys. None of them saw any action a year ago, but all were highly recruited and one will more than likely step up. Dalton Schultz (6-5,240) is one of their top recruits and could play right away if needed.
Stanford has a strong offense normally, but they are often known for their stout defense as well. They have some big time losses in killer leading tackler, Shayne Skov, LB Trent Murphy and safety Ed Reynolds.
But, they do return 7 starters.They also lost Defensive Coordinator Derek Mason to the head coaching job at Vanderbilt. His replacement came from within and the promotion of OLB coach Lance Anderson. Defense should look mostly the same next season with a few new starters here and there.
The secondary almost returns intact and should be awesome again in 2014. One other coaching change is Duane Akina, the defensive back guru from Texas. He is the new secondary coach and he is known to develop talent.
Alex Carter (6-0,205) at CB is one of the best and is a big body for a CB. Another big CB returns on the other side, Wayne Lyons (6-1,200). Ronnie Harris (5-10,175) and Ra’Chard Pippens (6-2,200) are seniors that have some experience and will provide quality back ups.
Jordan Richards (5-11,210) returns at strong safety, but they will miss Ed Reynolds at the other safety. Senior Kyle Olugbode (6-1,205) or former WR Kodi Whitfield should start at the free safety spot. Part time QB, Dallas Lloyd also plays a free safety.
LB has A.J. Tarpley (6-2,240) back and he is a standout as is OLB James Vaughters (6-2,255). Shayne Skov has been the heart and soul of this defense and the LB group and there’s no way anyone can convince me this headhunter won’t be missed.
Kevin Anderson (6-4,245) played a lot at the other OLB a year ago and could be considered a returning starter. Blake Martinez (6-2,235) should slide into Skov’s old spot.
Peter Kalambayi (6-3,235) and Mike Tyler (6-5,220) are the back ups at the OLB spots. Joe Hemschoot (6-1,225) and probably Noor Davis (6-4,235) or Kevin Palma (6-2,260) will be the backups at the ILB spots.
Stanford plays a 3-4 defense, and the 3 man front took a big hit and had some key losses.
Henry Anderson (6-6,295) luckily returns at one DE spot, and he is a good one. Blake Lueders (6-5,260) moved to DE from LB and needs some work.
True freshman Solomon Thomas (6-4,240) a 4 star DE out of Texas should help out right away. But, they will need somebody to step up at the DE postions and step up quickly.
Same is true with the Nose Tackle. David Parry (6-2,300) a 5th year senior should start there, but the Cardinal needs Aziz Shittu (6-3,280) to step up.
Jim Harbaugh built this program and then left for the 49ers. I assumed they would drop off and return to where they came from, but David Shaw has done a magnificent and masterful job with this program. He is admirable and brought in a good recruiting class this off season.
People keep picking Oregon to win the Pac 12, but Stanford keeps beating the Ducks and I see no reason why the Cardinal doesn’t win the Pac 12 North again this year. The Pac 12 South is coming on, though, and will be much improved in 2014.
Watch out for Stanford this season.