2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 9 Stanford Cardinal
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Stanford Cardinal
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No. 9: Stanford Cardinal
Stanford Cardinal Prespring Status
When you go 10-3 and it’s a down year, you’re doing something right. Stanford was overrated to start last season – it was supposed to be a rebuilding campaign – and it showed after getting blown away by Washington and Washington State, starting out 4-3, and then fattening up over the second half of the season against a bad slate.
The passing game didn’t show up, the offense finished 103rd in the nation, and it took way too long for the machine to get revved up. But again, it was supposed to take a while to get back to a Pac-12 championship level. Even with Christian McCaffrey leaving early for the NFL, the Cardinal should be back there.
The quarterback fight will be interesting all offseason, but no matter how it all shakes out, seven starters will likely be back. The defense that allowed 17 points or fewer eight times loses Solomon Thomas at one end, but seven starters return. Throw in the small-but-loaded recruiting class full of future pro starters, and look out. Stanford is loaded.
Stanford Cardinal Biggest Issue
Really, who’s going to throw the ball? It’ll all be fine in time, and Stanford won ten games last year without an air attack, but finishing 115th in the nation in passing offense isn’t going to fly this time around if there’s any hope of winning the Pac-12 title.
Keller Chryst is going to need a while to get back from a knee injury, and Ryan Burns – at best – is nothing more than a temporary solution. Davis Mills is going to be special, but he’s a true freshman, and K.J. Costello has yet to show what he can do. Boo hoo, Stanford has too many capable quarterbacks, but one of them has to rock in a conference with Jake Browning, Sam Darnold, and Josh Rosen.
Stanford Cardinal Biggest Positive
The O line should be up to its normal snuff. It wasn’t nearly as dominant as normal under head coach David Shaw, but chalk it up to a year of fighting through the growing pains. Not only do three starters come back – with the coaching staff likely to play around with the combination all offseason – but in comes Foster Sarrell and Walker Little, two of the nation’s top recruits, and about as sure as it gets when it comes to the always-flaky recruiting world. If nothing else, this will be a more talented line.
Really, Why Are The Stanford Cardinal Ranked Here?
The depth is better, the position battles will be stronger, and the upside is there to take the Pac-12 title after taking a step back. It might take the entire offseason, but eventually, the starting 22 should be as good as any in the conference, and likely the country – even if it takes a little while to get there.