2010 Record: (12-1, 8-1 in Pac-10)
Head Coach: David Shaw (1st Time Head Coach)
Last Bowl Game: 20010/2011 Orange Bowl (beat Virginia Tech 40-12)
Final 2010/2011 AP Ranking: #4
Final 2010/2011 CFBZ Ranking: #4
9/3: San Jose State (2009 result: won 42-17)
9/10: at Duke
9/17: at Arizona (2010 result: won 42-17)
10/1: UCLA (2010 result: won 35-0)
10/15: at Washington State (2010 result: won 38-28)
10/22: Washington (2010 result: won 41-0)
10/29: at USC (2010 result: won 37-35)
11/5: at Oregon State (2010 result: won 38-0)
11/12: Oregon (2010 result: lost 52-31)
11/19: California (2010 result: won 48-14)
11/26: Notre Dame (2010 result: won 37-14)
Early Game Previews:
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 40.3 ppg (3nd in Pac-10, 9th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 213.77 yds/game (2nd in Pac-10, 17th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 258.2 yds/game (3rd in Pac-10, 29th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 472.0 yds/game (2nd in Pac-10, 14th in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 17.1 ppg (1st in Pac-10, 9th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 120.85 yds/game (2nd in Pac-10, 19th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 202.0 yds/game (3rd in Pac-10, 35th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 322.8 yds/game (2nd in Pac-10, 21st in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: +1.00 per game (1st in Pac-10, 7th in Nation)
Penalties: 44.7 yds/game (1st in Pac-10, 33rd in Nation)
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: QB Andrew Luck, Jr (263 of 372 for 3332 yds, 32 TD, 8 INT)
Rushing: RB Stepfan Taylor, Jr (223 for 1137 yds, 5.1 ypc, 15 TD)
Receiving: WR Chris Owusu, Sr (25 rec for 396 yds, 3 TD)
Tackles: LB Shayne Skov, Jr (83)
Sacks: LB Shayne Skov, Jr; LB Chase Thomas, Jr (7)
Interceptions: S Delano Howell, Sr (5)
Stanford was a team that many undervalued last year, including us (we picked them to finish 6th in the Pac-10- shhhh...don't tell anyone), but they ended up with their best finish since the 1940 season (their nickname at the time was the Indians) when they went 10-0 and beat Nebraska in the Rose Bowl. Going into last season most thought the Cardinal would at best equal their win total from last year as they had to replace their rough and tumble star RB Toby Gerhart (who ran for over 1,800 yards and 28 TD as a senior). Stanford also went into last season having to replace four coaches so there was concern about consistency in the coaching staff. Andrew Luck emerged as a star last year, Stepfan Taylor did a good job replacing some of the production vacated by Gerhart and the defense stepped up as a major strength holding the opposition to nine less points in 2010 than they did in 2009.
This off-season the Cardinal got some fantastic news when Andrew Luck announced he was staying in school for at least one more year. Unfortunately, their coach didn't do the same as he went pro taking a job with the San Fransisco 49ers. For the second time in two years the Cardinal will have a massive overhaul of the coaching staff. The good news is that the opening two games (San Jose State at home and Duke on the road) aren't exactly against a who's who of college football success so the staff should be able to get their feet set before travelling to Arizona on Sept 17th. The schedule looks very favorable as the biggest games for the Cardinal come towards the end of the season which should be a big benefit to this team. This team will be less experienced than the one the Cardinal sent onto the field last year but they return key players at key positions (in addition to Luck and Taylor) with two all-conference players returning on the OL and some good talent returning on the back half of their defense. There is a lot to like about this Stanford team but with all of the new faces there is a fear of a return to reality for the Cardinal after last years fantastic season. We think as long as Andrew Luck is still on campus that this should be a very formidable team. To get an inside take on the 2011 Stanford Cardinal we talked with Jim Rutter and Andy Drukarev of Scout.com's Stanford website The Bootleg.
Stanford lost Jim Harbaugh to the NFL and he has been replaced by first-time head coach David Shaw. What are your overall thoughts on Shaw now that he has been in position for a few months?
Assuming the Cardinal can keep winning, David Shaw represents the proverbial “dream” head coach for Stanford fans. A Cardinal gridiron alumnus whose ties to the program run deep, Shaw comes from a football coaching family, bleeds Cardinal and White, represents the school like a champ, and has publicly stated his strong desire to coach in Palo Alto for many years to come. However, his hiring wasn't met with unanimous praise. Shaw’s assistant coaching hires were considered less than overwhelming by some, and it remains to be seen whether he’ll able to maintain the hyper-competitive, blue-collar mentality that helped Stanford to a BCS bowl and its first-ever 12-win season.
So far, Shaw has said and done all the right things. His recruiting has been solid, and there have been no major snafus in his brief tenure. In about a month, we'll finally get a better sense for Shaw's leadership ability in his new role. At The Bootleg, we are maintaining our “strong buy” rating on Coach Shaw.
Stanford has All-American quarterback Andrew Luck and standout running back Stepfan Taylor back on offense. Who else do you expect to step up and contribute along with those two stars?
Despite the presence of Luck, arguably the top collegiate player in the nation, Stanford's offensive success begins and ends up front. The Cardinal have boasted one of the top offensive lines in the nation during the past few seasons, and returning stars David DeCastro and Jonathan “Moose” Martin must stay healthy for Stanford to replicate its success along the line of scrimmage. Expect Kevin Danser, a former standout at local power Bellarmine Prep, to take over Phillips' vacated guard position, while Sam Schwartzstein and Khalil Wilkes compete at center. David Yankey, Tyler Mabry, and Cameron Fleming will each attempt to supplant Derek Hall, who was rock-solid at right tackle in 2010.
The Cardinal also return a number of talented skill position players. True sophomore RB Anthony Wilkerson is primed for a break-out campaign and could very well emerge as a “1b” option to Taylor in the backfield. We feel a healthy Levine Toilolo, along with Zach Ertz, and hybrid “tweener” Coby Fleener comprise the nation's top trio of tight ends, and lightning-fast Chris Owusu is a legitimate deep threat at receiver. For Stanford’s passing game to be deadly instead of just dangerous, a wide-out will have to step up to replace the surprisingly superlative play of now graduated wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who came though with a break-out season in 2010.
The Cardinal lose a lot of senior contributors on defense (10 of their top 15 tacklers). Who do you see stepping up this year to take on a bigger role as a part of the D?
It will be virtually impossible to fully replace interior stalwart Sione Fua, and to a lesser extent Brian Bulcke, along the defensive front, but Stanford has a few young linemen that hope to be up to the task. Coaches have singled out defensive end Ben Gardner as the front runner to replace Bulcke. Gardner fared well in limited minutes last season, but he's mostly an unknown quantity. Terrance Stephens is the front-runner to take over the all-important 3-4 nose position. He's played reasonably well in limited action, but he'll need to elevate his game to free up the likes of OLB Chase Thomas and ILB Shayne Skov and enable them to make plays.
The linebacker core and secondary are more established, but the Cardinal must replace the departed Thomas Keiser, Owen Marecic, and Richard Sherman. Max Bergen is probably the frontrunner to replace Marecic, and a combination of Trent Murphy and Alex Debniak should be a fine combination at the departed Keiser's outside backer position. True freshman James Vaughters, a blue-chip recruit, could emerge as a big-time player early on if given a chance, however.
While the four starting defensive backs are already penciled in (Johnson Bademosi, Barry Browning, Delano Howell, Michael Thomas), highly-regarded true freshman Wayne Lyons is a candidate to make an immediate difference in the nickel package.
Stanford took some very positive steps in the years under Jim Harbaugh. Stanford has played powerhouse Oregon competitively over the last few years. What do the Cardinal need to do to beat the Pac-12 favorites this year?
Assuming the absence of major injuries, Stanford's path to the top of the Pac-12 North standings will be determined by three major variables: coaching, line play, and avoidance of injury.
Although the intense, charismatic Harbaugh demanded most of the headlines, Greg Roman (co-OC) and Vic Fangio (DC) played as big a role in Stanford's Orange Bowl season as anyone. They both had significant roles in the Cardinal's innovative offensive and defensive schemes that flummoxed opponents all year. Pep Hamilton (former quarterbacks coach, now OC), Derek Mason (former secondary coach, now fired-up co-DC), and former San Francisco 49er assistant Jason Tarver (new inside linebackers coach and co-DC) must demonstrate that they are able to sustain the schematic advantage that helped Stanford dominate opponents throughout last season.
Along the line of scrimmage, Stanford must find a way to replace a quartet of key offensive linemen - Phillips, Beeler, Hall, and "jack-of-all-trades" James McGillicuddy, in addition to Fua and Bulcke. If the aforementioned group of inexperienced linemen are able to step up and be productive, the Cardinal has the skill position depth and the defensive back seven, (some 'Luck" wouldn't hurt either) to earn a berth in the inaugural Pac-12 title game.
Outside of the Oregon game, what are the biggest games on the schedule for Stanford?
The 2011 schedule sets up nicely for the Card. The team will be strong favorites in its first seven games before a challenging five-game stretch to end the season. For that reason, Stanford's third game of the year, on Sept. 17 at Arizona could be the Card's main roadblock to a top-five national ranking by late October.
Beginning on Oct. 29, however, each game will be a formidable test. Stanford visits USC and Oregon State in successive weeks before returning home to host the high-flying Ducks. The season then concludes with home dates against California and Notre Dame. It's hard to pinpoint one of those contests as more critical than another, but it will likely represent a season-defining stretch.
What is your gut feeling on Stanford’s final record for the 2011 regular season and what would make the year successful in your eyes?
10-2. In a year beginning with unprecedented high expectations for Stanford's rising football program, it will be tough to be satisfied with anything less than a double-digit win total. However, even with the plethora of NFL talent currently on the roster, last season's departures, both on the field and in the coaching box, will make it pretty challenging for the Cardinal to match last season's record-setting season. It is reasonable to assume, however, that Andrew Luck, Jonathan Martin, Shayne Skov & Co. should be able to manage a second consecutive 10-win year. Anything less would be disappointing. Anything more would be proper cause for a new national holiday.
CFBZ Top 25
#8 Stanford Cardinal
2011 Team Previews