Head Coach: David Shaw
2016 record: 10-3 overall, 6-3 Pac 12 North
2016 Postseason results: Beat North Carolina 25-23 in the Sun Bowl
2017 returning starters: 8 offense, 8 defense
Odds to win 2018 College Football Championship game: 110/1
Odds to win 2017 Pac 12 Championship Game: +1020
Odds to Win 2017 Pac 12 North Division: +255
Regular season wins: over 8 1/2 -135 / under 8 1/2 +115
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Last year, the Stanford Cardinal had a very difficult schedule to start off the season. They went 4-3 to begin the season with wins over Kansas State, USC, UCLA and Notre Dame, and losses to Washington, Washington State and Colorado. In the second half the season, the schedule loosened up considerably and the Cardinal won their last six games including a win over North Carolina in the Sun Bowl.
Stanford gets 16 starters back in 2017, and looks to compete with Washington and USC for the the Pac 12 title under coach David Shaw. Here is a look at Stanford on offense, defense, special teams, plus a look at the schedule and outlook.
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Stanford struggled on offense last year, especially in the passing game. The Cardinal averaged 367 yards per game including 208 rushing yards and 26 points per game. Mike Bloomgren is the offensive coordinator and gets eight starters back.
Quarterback Keller Chryst suffered a knee injury in the bowl game and missed all of spring practice. He is penciled in as the starter but might not be ready for the start of the season. Ryan Burns and K.J. Costello are the other quarterbacks on the roster. Burns threw for 1,151 yards with 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Chryst threw for 905 yards with 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, and also rushed for 159 yards on 41 carries with 2 touchdowns.
Stanford loses versatile running back Christian McCaffrey to the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. McCaffrey had 253 carries for 1,603 yards with 13 touchdowns, and had 37 catches for 310 yards and 3 touchdowns. Bryce Love takes over as the feature back after he had 112 carries for 779 yards with 3 touchdowns, plus he had 8 catches and a touchdown. Cameron Scarlett will get most of the back-up carries. He had 38 carries for 117 yards and a touchdown last year. Daniel Marx is the fullback but is mainly used for blocking.
Receiver Trent Irwin is back after making 37 catches for 442 yards and a touchdown. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside had 24 catches for 379 yards and 5 touchdowns. Besides losing McCaffrey, the Cardinal also lose Michael Rector to the Detroit Lions. He had 32 catches for 367 yards and 3 touchdowns, and also rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Dalton Schultz is back and had 23 catches for 222 yards and a touchdown. No other Cardinal receiver had more than eight catches last year.
The offensive struggled in pass protection allowing 34 sacks last year. Four starters are back though and Stanford also recruited several prospects with NFL potential to add depth. David Bright and A.T Hall will start at the tackles. Center Jesse Burkett and right guard Nick Wilson are also back. Left guard Nate Herbig is the only new starter.
Stanford allowed 369 yards per game on defense and 20 points per game. Defensive coordinator Lance Anderson gets back eight starters.
Defensive end Solomon Thomas was a top ten pick by the San Francisco 49ers. He had 62 tackles with 15 for loss and 8 sacks. Defensive tackle Harrison Phillips is back though. He made 46 tackles, including 9.5 for loss and 6.5 sacks. Eric Cotton and Dylan Jackson will start at the ends.
Outside linebacker Joey Alfieri had 51 tackles including 10.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks. Peter Kalambayi had 45 tackles including 6 tackles for loss and will start at the other outside linebacker. Inside linebackers Bobby Okereke and Kevin Palma combined for 81 tackles last year. Okereke is primed for a breakout season.
As good as the linebackers are, the secondary might be among the best in the country. Stanford could go eight deep with quality players in the secondary. Alijah Holder and Quenton Meeks are two of the best corners in the nation. Alameen Murphy could start for almost every other team in the country but will come off the bench. Justin Reid and Brandon Simmons are the safeties.
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Kicker Jet Toner takes over for reliable weapon Conrad Ukropina. Toner is a true sophomore and hasn’t attempted a kick in his career. Punter Jake Bailey averaged 43.5 yards per game. McCaffrey was also the primary punt and kick returner. Jay Tyler will return punts and Bryce Love will return kicks.
Schedule and Outlook
Stanford opens the season in Sidney, Australia against Rice. Road games at USC and San Diego State are next. Stanford gets two home games against UCLA and Arizona State next. The Cardinal travel to Utah before hosting Oregon. Road games at Oregon State and Washington State are next for the Cardinal. Stanford closes with three straight home games against Washington, California and Notre Dame.
The Cardinal need to be more balanced in the offense, and also faces another tough schedule. I don’t think Stanford is on the level of Washington or USC. Still I see 9 wins and one of the Pac 12’s top bowl berths.
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