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2017 Fierce 40 Previews: #14 Stanford

by DJ Boyer on Aug. 11, 2017

#14 Stanford Cardinal

2016 Recap:
After back-to-back losses against Washington and Washington State early in the season a 3-2 Stanford team looked out of sorts. This was followed by a close win against Notre Dame and a 10-5 loss to Colorado to leave them 4-3. Stanford finished the season with six consecutive wins including a thrilling 25-23 victory over North Carolina in the Sun Bowl. Stanford finished 10-3 meaning Stanford has reached double digits in wins six of the last seven years.


Coaching:
David Shaw sports a 64-17 record in his six seasons at Stanford. Shaw is regraded as one of the best and brightest coaches at the FBS level and has been considered a threat to leave for an NFL coaching position at some point.

 

Offense

There is no replacing Christian McCaffrey, it just cannot be done. Bryce Love knows he is not Christian McCaffrey...but he is no slouch either. Love actuallyposted nearly 800 yards on the ground last year and his 7.1 YPC was higher than the 6.3 posted by McCaffrey. can Love carry the ball as often or be as useful catching the football and the answers there are no but he has proven to be durable and 25 carry games should not be an issue. Quarterback Keller Chryst was nearly as responsible as McCaffrey for the six game winning streak down the stretch but he injuried his knee in the bowl game and availability to open the year is in doubt. Expect freshman K.J. Costello to get the call early if Chryst is not yet available when the season kicks off. Dalton Schultz looks like the next in the line of productive tight ends that move from Stanford to the NFL and the lineman have been fruitful at the next level as well. David Bright leads the Cardinal with what we feel is the best line in the conference aside from defending Pac-12 Champs Washington.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Jesse Burkett C 3rd Round 2019.

                                       David Bright OT 3rd/4th Round 2018.


Defense

Harrison Phillips is now the most disruptive pass rusher Stanford can hang their hat on after losing Solomon Thomas early for the NFL  Phillips is the only returning starter along the line but the linebackers behind him will all look familiar. Stanford uses a 3-4 in nearly all of their snaps and Bobby Okereka and Joey Alfieri will be the leaders of the swarming group. These linebackers don;t seem to be as gifted in the pass rushing department, especially when comparing them to units of the past. What the linebackers excel at is open field tackling and taking great pursuit angles, you can tell they are well coached by defenisve coordinator Lance Anderson. Quenton Meeks and Justin Reid are a pair of juniors who look like life in the NFL is coming their way. It will be interesting to see if both remain in school beyond this season or make the early transition and declare themselves draft eligible.

Best Draft Prospects: Harrison Phillips DT 2nd/3rd Round 2019.             

                                       Quenton Meeks CB 2nd/3rd Round 2019.


Special Teams:

Conrad Ukropina is gone as kicker, a very reliable weapon that had been in the Stanford arsenal. Freshman kicker Jet Toner will take over as kicker while punter Jake Bailey is back in the fold after a productive year. We expect Bryce Love and Jay Tyler to take over return duties with McCaffrey now in the NFL.


Schedule:

Week two on the road against USC will be huge and one of the earliest conference games in the nation. Even though this is a road game Stanford has a knack for defeating the Trojans and throwing them off their game. Three of the next four Pac-12 games are at home and the opponents will be UCLA, Arizona State and Oregon so there is no easing into the Stanford schedule.


Draft and Overall Outlook:

The outlook is not quite as rosy for Stanford this season as there are some question marks on offense but the defense should carry the squad to another double digit win season. Stanford always seems to have a prospect every year rise from the middle of the pack and become a first round prospect and out money is on David Bright at offenisve tackle this season. The focus has been on Casey Tucker in the past but we believe Bright will be the more sought after prospect on draft day.

 

DJ Boyer