The 2018 spring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Stanford Cardinal.
No. 21: Stanford Cardinal
Spring Practice Starts: February 27
Spring Game: April 14
Stanford Cardinal Spring Status
For a program used to winning Pac-12 championships and big bowl games, closing out with a los to USC in the conference title game and a collapse against TCU in the Alamo Bowl wasn’t okay.
But other four of the five losses on the year came by a grand total of 11 points, but there were a few close calls that went the Cardinal’s way, too.
Getting Bryce Love back for one more season was the biggest break of the offseason that wasn’t all that great.
The quarterback situation is a potential mess, but eight starters are back for an offense that needs to be more than just Love – the passing attack has to be more consistent and dangerous.
The defense is the bigger problem, losing nine starters including the entire back eight and NFL starting-caliber defensive tackle Harrison Phillips. It’s Stanford, so there are always solid replacements waiting in the wings, but there’s a whole lot of work to do.
Stanford Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Linebacker. Defensive back isn’t far behind – especially after S Justin Reid and CB Quenton Meeks left early – but the Cardinal first must find four new starting linebackers to take over for Peter Kalambayi, Bobby Okereke and the rest of the corps.
Curtis Robinson and Casey Toohill combined for 44 tackles in the rotation on the outside, Mustafa Branch made 14 on the inside, and now they have to be great. They all have to be the rock of a defense that wasn’t quite up to its normal dominating snuff.
Stanford Biggest Issue
The quarterback situation and the passing game. The Cardinal had the second-worst passing game in the Pac-12, with an inefficient attack that spent most of its time hoping for Love to do all the work. And now the quarterback situation is a hot mess.
Starter K.J. Costello is out this spring getting past a hip injury. Keller Chryst is not a Tennessee Volunteer, solid recruit Davis Mills has a knee problem, and better recruit Tanner McKee is off on a church mission for a few years.
Everything is supposed to be fine by the start of the season, but it’s hard to improve an already struggling passing game with a walk-on – Jack Richardson – holding a place in practices.
Stanford Biggest Positive
Bryce Love and the running game. Getting Love back is everything to the Cardinal, and he gets to work behind a rising line full of former great recruits. Four starters are back up front, but it’ll be a battle for jobs with a whole slew of talented young players pushing for time. Best of all, Love is getting time to rest up the ankle that kept him down over the second half of last season.
Really, Why Are The Stanford Cardinal Ranked Here?
It’s a bit of a gift, and it’s expecting Costello to be more than just okay, Love to be Love, and the defense to replace way too many top players without breaking a sweat.
It’s another good Stanford team under David Shaw, but it’s a better Pac-12. The fall camp will be one to watch after so many key parts were missing or not in place this spring.