•  Register
13

2014 Fierce 40 Previews: #9 Stanford

by DJ Boyer on Aug. 13, 2014

#9 Stanford Cardinal

 

2013 Recap:

11-3 with 3 losses by a total of 13 points. Stanford is starting to make a case for being the top program in the Pac-12. We saw USC hold the crown and it was passed on to Oregon but there seems to be a changing of the guard going on in Stanford.

 

Coaching:

David Shaw is another name we may start to hear more and more in NFL circles. Stanford has to play in what many regard as the 2nd toughest conference at the NCAA level and they routinely win at least 10 games as they are 34-7 under Shaw in just three years.

 

Offense

Quarterbacks/Running Backs:

Kevin Hogan is a bit of an enigma at the moment. He is a very talented passer but he plays in the PAC-12 where talented passers are a dime a dozen. Hogan and his 20 TD/10 INT ratio is good but it doesn't blow you away. What does blow you away is the fact that all he does is beat ranked teams with regularity and he has had to foster some come-from-behind victories. Hogan is a solid 2nd round selection, projected to be one for 2016, and he will have to stick around because of the bevy of talent in the conference in which he plays. Hogan will more than likely have to throw the ball more in 2014 because he doesn't have a workhorse in the backfield like he had a year ago in Ty Gaffney. There isn't a clear starter at the running back position and there may not be one during the year. Stanford has about 5-6 players that are going to see significant time in the backfield. Don't underestimate the value of the fullback at Stanford though, and expect Lee Ward and Patrick Skov (Shayne's brother) to both be involved in the action and play a significant role in the offense.

Best Draft Prospect: Kevin Hogan QB 2nd Round 2016.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends:

Ty Montgomery stepped up last season and played worlds better than virtually anyone expected. 958 yards and 10 touchdowns was quite a large portion of the offense, especially when you figure in the fact that Montgomery was also one of the most electric return men in America and was a constant threat to take the ball back to the house every time he touched it. Devon Cajuste caught an impressive 642 yards on only 28 catches for a mind boggling 23 yards a catch. With Cajuste and Montgomery you have a pair of targets working the outside that can make a team miss in the open field or blow by the defense and make a big play; the possibilities are endless.

With Stanford you always have to be weary of the tight end as they will use it frequently and more than one in most of their formations. Charlie Hopkins and Austin Hooper will be splitting time as the starting tight ends but both will see the field often. Hopkins seems to be the better blocker of the two but Hooper is advertised as being a big play tight end that will be a high draft pick when his time comes. The depth isn't there with this group but the starters at wide receiver make this a special unit.

Best Draft Prospect: Ty Montgomery WR 2nd Round 2015.

 

Offensive Line:

The offensive line will have a lot to prove as Stanford is starting to become a proving ground for offensive lineman, more like NFL-Lite. Only one starter returns from last season so there are questions and is uncertainty surrounding the unit for 2014. Although that one returning starter, Andrus Peat, is a special player. Peat is a junior who has first round talent and he will likely leave this season and be one of the first three offensive tackles off the board. Peat should battle Texas A&M 's Cedric Ogbuehi and Iowa's Brandon Scherff for the top lineman available. The guard position has yielded some high draft picks in the last few seasons and now it's up to youngsters Joshua Garnett and Johnny Caspers to keep that going. As good as the interior guards are, the true diamond in the rough may be sophomore center Graham Shuler. He could go pro after next season when he is a junior, but centers going pro early is not something we see often.

Best Draft Prospect: Andrus Peat OT 1st Round 2016 (Likely to declare for 2015).

 

Defense

Defensive Line:

The Cardinals will have to worry about replacing the NCAA sack leader from last season, Trent Murphy, who played a hybrid defensive end/linebacker position. What may be more worrisome is that it’s not just Murphy but Ben Gardner and Josh Mauro are also gone along the line. Stanford will be staying with their traditional 3-4 front even with a new defensive coordinator at the helm, after Derek Mason left to become the head coach at Vanderbilt. Henry Anderson is a hulking defensive end that can play as a defensive tackle at the next level if asked, one that can get penetration and concentrate on being a pass rusher. David Parry will be the focal point on the interior of the defense and one of the better defensive tackles in the Pac-12. Parry made five tackles for a loss while opening up gaps for the impressive linebacking corps to make plays. Kevin Anderson had plenty of experience playing last season, contributing 6.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks, but now is a full time starter. Anderson will see time at linebacker as well and should be like Trent Murphy was a season ago going back and forth depending upon the formation.

Best Draft Prospect: Henry Anderson DE 3rd Round 2015.

 

Linebackers:

A.J. Tarpley is the top returning tackler to the team and the inside linebacker should top the 100 stop mark for this season. He seems to be better in run support than when trying to make a solo tackle but his play recognition makes up for a bit of limited range. Again, Kevin Anderson may also see more time at linebacker, and he has the ability to get after the quarterback and lessen the blow of losing Trent Murphy who made 23.5 tackles for loss and 15 sacks a season ago. In fact Stanford logged 44 sacks while only giving up 16, showing you the importance of getting after the quarterback. James Vaughters has missed time with injury in the past but he played well when on the field a season ago and is back for his senior season on the outside. Overall this is a very capable group even with the departures of Murphy and Shayne Skov.

Best Draft Prospect: A.J. Tarpley LB 4th Round 2015.

 

Secondary:

Football is a team sport and looking at the Stanford secondary is a reminder. With cornerbacks Alex Carter and Wayne Lyons you have what looks to be a pair of 1st and 2nd round corners with all the individual talent in the world. Jordan Richards at free safety may be the first safety off the board in this draft if Alabama’s Landon Collins does not declare. Last season Stanford had the dependable Ed Reynolds on the roster and he was drafted by Philadelphia. The amount of talent in the secondary is staggering. So why was Stanford ranked #96 against the pass last season and 8th in the Pac-12? Many teams were playing catch up against the Cardinal and the run defense was very stout, ranking #3 in the nation. There were still some big plays allowed by Stanford but the ranking from last year is deceiving. This is the most talented secondary in the Pac-12 bar-none. Kyle Olugbode stepping in for Reynolds will be a downgrade at the position but he has game experience and works well with his teammates. The biggest question is whether Carter declares for the draft this season or waits until 2016. All three players are late 1st round/mid 2nd round prospects.

Best Draft Prospect: Wayne Lyons CB 2nd Round 2015.

 

Special Teams:

Jordan Williamson is a prospect at kicker. He probably won’t be drafted but he should have a camp invite and a chance to make a team. Stanford is a high profile team and they rely on field goals quite often, so with an exceptional year he may hear his name called. Ben Rhyne is a capable punter who just needs to speed up his delivery a bit and improve his hang time. With Ty Montgomery you have perhaps the top returner man in the country, a great combo of speed and wits when it comes to finding cutback lanes and being patient with his blocks developing.

Best Draft Prospect: Ty Montgomery WR/KR 2nd Round 2015.

 

Schedule:

This is a very tough schedule with USC and a road game against Washington in September, while October brings road tests against Notre Dame and Arizona State. Stanford closes the season on the road at UCLA while November 1 is another road game and the one everyone is waiting for. Oregon needs to get over the hump against Stanford and they have them in Eugene with a chance to pounce. This is a very difficult schedule with one of the toughest road games schedules in the country.

 

Draft Outlook:

This is Stanford and the draft picks will continue to flow. The secondary at Stanford is loaded and offensive tackle Andrus Peat is a potential top 10 pick if he declares this year. There are no bare cupboards when it comes to talent at Stanford.

 

< Previous: #10 South Carolina  Next: #8 Georgia >