2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The Stanford Offense
More of a running game would be nice. It starts with keeping everyone healthy. The Cardinal had NFL talent in the backfield on on the O line last year, but most of star parts struggled to be 100% at one time and the ground attack fizzled.
The line has the next-level guys at tackle, but Walker Little and Foster Sarrel have to stay in one piece. Cameron Scarlett has the talent to carry the workload, but unlike Bryce Love, he’s not going to have the wiggle to do much when the line isn’t rocking and rolling.
How far did the ground attack fall? After coming up with 2,833 yards and 31 touchdowns and a 5.9 yard per carry average – thanks to the monster season from Love – the production was cut almost in half, finishing with 1,403 yards and just 16 scores. The O was able to get by thanks to the passing game, but the ground attack failed to hit 80 yards five times.
Biggest Key To The Stanford Defense
Oh yeah, the pass defense. For the most part, the play of the secondary turned into the tone-setter for the team last season. The yards mattered, but when the defensive backs weren’t coming up with stops and big plays, there was a problem.
The Cardinal only allowed 14 touchdown passes, but out of the 11 interceptions, none of them came in the four losses. Washington State’s Gardner Minshew, Utah’s Tyler Huntley and Notre Dame’s Ian Book took target practice on the Stanford defensive backs, and Oregon’s Justin Herbert went off for big play after big play before the Ducks’ epic meltdown.
The corners will be fine, but the safeties will need some time and seasoning that they won’t get considering the brutal coast-to-coast slate.
Key Player To A Successful Season
LB Ricky Miezan, Soph.
The Cardinal lost a combined 188 tackles on the inside with Bobby Okereke and Sean Barton done, and they need to be replaced. Simply by the nature of the position, the Cardinal inside linebackers are going to be among the team’s leading tacklers, but can any of them play?
With the inside linebacker situation such a concern, the defense needs players like Jacob Magnum-Farrar and Miezan to quickly grow into instant stars, and the recruiting class has to provide options in the rotation.
The 6-2, 248-pound Miezan has the quickness, size, and range, but he needs the reps and he needs the seasoning after seeing a little time on special teams last season. It’s his fall camp to take over a job that might be his for the next three seasons.
Key Game To The Stanford Season
Oregon, Sept. 21
The date with Washington might just decide the Pac-12 North on October 5th … if the Cardinal can take care of Oregon first.
The Cardinal pulled off a minor miracle – or, the Ducks totally gagged, depending on your interpretation – in a 38-31 win that came right before a run of four losses in five games. It was the third win in a row in the series for Stanford, but this time around, it comes off a brutal run of Northwestern, at USC, and at UCF to kick things off and with a ton of nasty games ahead.
Stanford can’t afford to lose any home games, even if they’re against top ten-caliber teams.
– Stanford Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 Stanford Fun Stats
– Fumbles: Opponents 16 (lost 7) – Stanford 11 (lost 4)
– Sacks: Stanford 36 for 249 yards – Opponents 24 for 147 yards
– Red Zone Scores: Stanford 41-of-46 – Opponents 39-of-49