Sun Bowl: Stanford 25, North Carolina 23, 5 Things That Matter, What’s Next For 2017?

Sun Bowl: Stanford 25, North Carolina 23, 5 Things That Matter, What’s Next For 2017?

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Sun Bowl: Stanford 25, North Carolina 23, 5 Things That Matter, What’s Next For 2017?

Hyundai Sun Bowl: Stanford 25, North Carolina 23, 5 Things That Matter, What’s Next For 2017?

Stanford held on for dear life to get by Mitch Trubisky and North Carolina in a 25-23 thriller of a Hyundai Sun Bowl. What are the five things that matter, and what’s next for 2017?

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And there’s Mitch Trubisky

There were two interceptions and too many misfires, but if you haven’t seen Trubisky before and you want to know what an NFL quarterback looks like, that’s it. He’s got the mobility, he’s got the size, he’s got the touch, and he’s got the moxie to make every throw in the book. He might not have gotten the win, but against a solid Stanford defense that had a month to prepare for him, he still showed off the upside everyone likes.

On the final drive, his receivers dropped three passes that hit them right in the hands for a possible touchdown, and Trubisky – who finished completing 23-of-39 passes for 280 yards and two scores with two picks – just kept throwing perfect darts to get the Tar Heels back into the game in the final seconds with a brilliant play to make it close. He did what he could.

There you go, Cleveland. You’re on the clock.

And there’s Bryce Love

Not to disparage Christian McCaffrey and what he could do, but Stanford just won a bowl game without him.

The passing game didn’t go anywhere, but the running game did what it could thanks to Bryce Love, who ran 22 times for 115 yards and caught a 49-yard touchdown pass to help Stanford get yet another double-digit win campaign.

The formula still works. Get a great offensive line, get talented do-it-all backs like Love, and get fantastic defensive performances from players like …

Solomon Thomas

The Stanford defensive end is NFL-ready now. Trubisky might have been great, but it was Thomas who came up with the stop on the two-point conversion that would’ve tied the game to seal the win for the Cardinal. With seven tackles and a sack, he dominated a high-powered Tar Heel offense, but he wasn’t alone, keeping UNC to just three yards per carry with no big dashes. Again, the formula keeps on working for David Shaw, even in rebuilding years.

What’s next for Stanford in 2017?

It’s the Bryce Love era in the Cardinal backfield with Christian McCaffrey finished, but Keller Chryst is back at quarterback working behind a good line with three starters back. However, the right side is done losing tackle David Bright and guard Johnny Caspers. The receiving corps also needs work with Michael Rector and Francis Owusu finished.

Is Solomon Thomas coming back at one end? If so, the D should be outstanding. In all, eight starters should return, but losing SS Dallas Lloyd will hurt. The secondary should be a strength anyway, and the front three could be a brick wall if the depth develops in a hurry.

What’s next for North Carolina in 2017?

Just assume that Mitch Trubisky is off being a Brown/49er/Bear or some other NFL talent, and losing RB T.J. Logan and the receiving combination of Ryan Switzer and Johnathan Howard hurts, too. Throw in center Lucas Crowley being done, as well as right tackle Jon Heck, and there’s a big overhaul happening on offense. Just five starters will be back, with sophomore-to-be Nathan Elliott the possible new quarterback this spring.

The defense is another animal with DE Mikey Bart and defensive backs Dominique Green and Desmond Lawrence gone, and that’s it. The other nine starters are back including the entire linebacking corps and the tackle combination of Nazair Jones and Aaron Crawford.

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