2009 Stanford Cardinal Football Preview
2008 Record: (5-7, 4-5)
2008 Bowl: none
Coach: Jim Harbaugh (9-15 at Stanford, 38-21 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: David Shaw
Defensive Coordinator: Andy Buh and Ron Lynn
Other Key Returnees: LB Chike Amajoyi, G Chase Beeler, WR Doug Baldwin, CB Kris Evans, DT Sione Fua, DE Erik Lorig, OT Chris Marinelli, LB Clinton Snyder, G Andrew Phillips, DT Dkom Udofia, S Sean Wiser
Key Losses: DE Pannel Egboh, C Alex Fletcher, TE Austin Gunder, RB Anthony Kimble, LB Pat Maynor, OT Ben Muth, CB Wopamo Osaisai, K Aaron Zagory
Ever since Coach Jim Harbaugh took over the program at Stanford, the team has been moving in the right direction. In 2007 the record was bad, but they did pull off an upset over USC. And last season the team took another step forward and ended up with a 4-5 conference record. Unfortunately for the Cardinal, the team struggled during their last three contests when they needed a win in order to reach a bowl game. For year three, the goal is certainly a bowl.
The offense only moved during the 2008 campaign because of running backs Toby Gerhart and Anthony Kimble. Gerhart is back on the team and ready to become the team’s go-to-guy. After rushing for 1,136 yards and 15 touchdowns a year ago, the 6-1, 232 pound bruiser should be in for a huge year. His offensive line returns three starters that did a pretty decent job of paving the way for the ground game. Even receivers Ryan Whalen and Doug Baldwin are back and that should give quarterback Tavita Pritchard a few options. However, Pritchard is a liability. He has had some great moments during his time at Stanford and he is an experienced senior, but he has some competition for the starting job. Redshirt freshman Andrew Luck had a solid spring and could push for the job in the fall.
Even if the offense can move the ball efficiently, can the defense stop anybody? With eight starters returning, there is certainly hope. Linebacker Clinton Snyder will be a superstar and the leader of the defense, but the strength should be up front. Defensive ends Tom Keiser and Erik Lorig are capable of wreaking havoc in the backfield and tackles Brian Bulcke and Ekom Udofia are both upperclassmen. All of that experience is helpful, but the Cardinal still gave up over 150 yards per game on the ground. The pass defense was even worse, ranking ninth in the conference. Strong safety Bo McNally is a quality player, but the rest of the secondary could use a boost in talent.
The Bottom Line for the Cardinal:
With seven home games, Stanford has the schedule to win at least six games and reach a bowl. The overall talent level is improving and that should show in the team’s depth. Replacing defensive stalwarts Pat Maynor and Wopamo Osaisai will not be easy, but at least there are options. It is usually year three in a coaching tenure when the big changes start to happen and that could just be the case for Coach Harbaugh and Stanford.
By Joel Welser
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