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The Stanford Cardinal are Legitimate National Title Contenders in 2013

Stanford head coach David Shaw has taken the Cardinal to consecutive bowl games, including last year’s 20-14 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.  Quarterback Kevin Hogan returns for the 2013 campaign after displaying above-average skills last season wherein he threw for 1,096 yards (71.7% completion rate; 9-3 ratio; 5 games) and was the team’s #2 rusher with 263 yards (4.8 ypc). However, the strength of Stanford remains with its elite defense, which welcomes back eight starters.  The defensive line, which recorded a college-best 57 sacks last season, returns 9 of its top ten performers, while the linebacking unit welcomes back 6 of its top eight tacklers.  In short, Stanford takes the field with one of the best defenses in the nation, and with a much more experienced quarterback, I expect the Cardinal to surprise many as a darkhorse National Title contender in 2013.

STANFORD CARDINAL (Position-by-Position Analysis) 

Quarterbacks – LY 3 battled for #1 QB; beg yr strtr Nunes (now departed) was replaced by
K.Hogan (1,096, 71.7%, 9-3 in 5 gms; #2 rusher); Hogan returns (#3 QB left)
vastly more exper & could greatly improve on LY unit’s 200 ypg passing

Running Backs – lose car rush ldr (NFL) & FB; return #2 RB; get back ’11(DNP LY)#2 rusher as b/u; less exper, still a talented group w/6 VHTs; A.Wilkerson (#60 RB) & projected strtr (#2 RB LY)

Receivers – lose top WR &2 best TE’s (both NFL); LY TE’s were #1 & 3 recvrs & RB #2 recvr
lose 18 of tm’s 19 TD rec; WR’s will have to pick up the slack

Offensive Line – lose 1 strtr; return 9 of top 10 from unit that slid to 174 ypg (4.4) & 20 sks
again one of NCAA’s top Ols; look for LY’s frosh to make a much bigger impact

Defensive Line – lose 1 strtr from O/S unit (LY 97 ypg (3.0) & had 57 sks (#1 FBS)
remain one of PAC12’s top D-lines

Linebackers – lose 1 strtr (#2 tklr) & return 6 of top 8 from LY’s O/S unit (17.2 ppg)
unit is loaded again & ranks as one of best in NCAA

Defensive Backs – lose 1 strtr (#5 tklr); among returnees are 3rd tm AA FS & 3rd Tm P12 SS
again S/B one of top secondaries (finished #11 LY)

Special Teams – lose P & top PR; may slide back a little from LY’s #26 ranking

Coaches – HC D.Shaw enters 3rd yr (prev OC here 4 yrs; prior 10 yrs NFL off & has exceeded expectations in each of his 1st 2 yrs as HC;

  • new OCM.Bloomgren was OL cch since ’11 (prev NFL asst 4 yrs);
  • DC D.Mason enters 3rd yr as DC (co-DC in ’11)

Overall Off PAC-12 projections – #6 rush ypg, #10 pass ypg, #8 ppg

  • 6 starters return

Overall Def PAC-12 projections – #2 rush ypg, #3 pass ypg, #1 ppg

  • 8 starters return Rank (Diff)

Experience Rank – 51 (of all NCAA FBS tms)

  • legit Nat’l Title contender; more exper at QB TY; one of FBS’s best Def
  • C/B 8-0 but then face 3 potential Top 10 tms in last 4 gms

Team Positive/Negative Factors -Impact for 2012

Net Close Wins/Losses – LY 8 close wins, 2 close losses
Net Turnovers – LY +9 in net TOs
Schedule – 8th hardest; draw USC & AZ ST (top 2)
Coach Change – new OC (prev OL cch here)