17 Stanford

August 20, 2012

Its Luck has run out, but a top five recruiting class keeps the Cardinal in the Pac-12 chase

The Skinny

STANFORD BEGINS the post-Andrew Luck era by conceding it can't replace Andrew Luck. "That quarterback position, we don't expect it to get played at the same level," says coach David Shaw. While either sophomore Brett Nottingham or junior Josh Nunes (a combined 10 career pass attempts) will take over at QB, the good news is that Stanford ran the ball 55% of the time last season. That shouldn't change with a deep group of tailbacks led by 5'11" senior Stepfan Taylor, who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons—he's only the third Cardinal back to do that—and he was named to the Doak Walker watch list. "We're going to run power," says Taylor. "That's what we hang our hat on."

Key Recruit

ANDRUS PEAT Stanford signed five offensive linemen listed as four- or five-star recruits by Rivals.com. The 6'7", 308-pound Peat is the most physically developed and could compete with classmate Kyle Murphy for the starting tackle spot vacated by Jonathan Martin.

Breakout Player

WAYNE LYONS The 6'1", 187-pound sophomore CB suffered a foot injury in the opener that kept him out most of the season. He excelled in the spring, prompting Shaw to say Lyons will soon contend for the Thorpe award, given to the nation's top defensive back.

Final Analysis

STANFORD WILL take a step back after losing not only Luck but also standout offensive linemen Martin and David DeCastro, but don't expect the team to plummet out of the rankings. The roster is plenty talented, bolstered by a top five recruiting class. The offense will still be efficient, and linebackers Chase Thomas and Shayne Skov will produce a formidable pass rush. An early test comes on Sept. 15 with a visit from USC. The Trojans' elite receivers could cause problems for the Cardinal's secondary, which has only one returning starter.

THE VITALS

Coach David Shaw (2nd year)

11--2 (8--1 Pac-12)

2011 Record 11--2 (8--1, 2nd in Pac-12 North)

Final AP Rank 7

Returning Starters Offense 6, Defense 7

2011 STATS

Total Offense (FBS Rank) 489.3 YPG (8)

Rushing Offense 210.6 YPG (18)

Passing Offense 278.7 YPG (22)

Total Defense 337.6 YPG (26)

Rushing Defense 84.4 YPG (3)

Passing Defense 253.2 YPG (95)

TELLING NUMBER 11

Sacks allowed by the Cardinal's offensive line last year, tied for seventh lowest nationally.

TOP PLAYERS

Offense

RB Stepfan Taylor

Sr., 5'11", 215 pounds

1,330 YDs, 12 TDs

TE Levine Toilolo

Jr., 6'8", 265 pounds

25 RECs, 6 TDs

WR Ty Montgomery

Soph., 6'2", 212 pounds

24 RECs, 4 TDs

Defense

LB Chase Thomas

Sr., 6'4", 248 pounds

8½ sacks, 17½ TFL

LB Shayne Skov

Sr., 6'3", 242 pounds

7½ sacks, 10½ TFL*

DE Ben Gardner

Jr., 6'4", 275 pounds

4½ sacks, 10 TFL

Special Teams

PK Jordan Williamson

Soph., 5'11", 192 pounds

13/19 FGs, 66.5 yards per kickoff

*2010 stats

PHOTOJOHN BIEVER (TAYLOR)Even with Luck, Stanford leaned hard on its power ground game led by Doak Walker candidate Taylor. PHOTOJOHN TODD/ISIPHOTOS.COM (LYONS)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)