Head coach David Shaw and the Stanford Cardinal are in for a real treat this season. The Cardinal has been riding the Luck-y wave for the last three seasons, but after Luck was drafted number one overall in the 2012 NFL draft, the Cardinal will have to find someone to replace the Heisman finalist.
The biggest question Stanford has is at quarterback, and there are currently five guys battling to take Andrew Luck’s former spot as the starter. The early front-runner would be Sophomore Brent Nottingham, but that’s only because Nottingham took the most game snaps during the 2011 season, which only amounted to eight attempted passes. Behind Nottingham is Junior Robbie Picazo who attempted three passes last season.
To say the least, Stanford has a few issues at quarterback to sort out before their season opener against San Jose State. Where the Cardinal doesn’t have issues is running back. Senior Stepfan Taylor is back and possibly one of the most underrated running backs in the country. Taylor’s abilities were overlooked last season due to the Luck factor, but Taylor rushed for 1300 yards and 10 TDs. This season though, he’ll be expected to take a lot of the weight off of the new starting quarterbacks hands. Stanford is also replacing their top two receivers, Griff Whalen and Coby Fleener, who interestingly enough both signed with the Colts.
Why Stanford should be ranked higher:
David Shaw has proven that he can continue the Harbaugh ways and Stanford returns eight starters on defense.
Why Stanford shouldn’t be ranked higher:
They shouldn’t. Without Andrew Luck and his targets, David Shaw will have a tough time winning games against the likes of USC, a revamped Washington, Notre Dame, and Oregon.
Returning Starters: 6 Offensive / 8 Defensive
Best games: USC, at Washington, at Notre Dame, at Oregon
2011 Total Offense: 8th
2011 Total Defense: 26th
2011 Turnover margin: 30th
Championship odds: 18/1
Projected record: 9 – 3