College Football News Preview 2020: Stanford Cardinal Keys To The Season
Biggest Key To The Stanford Cardinal Offense
The Stanford running game has to be the Stanford running game again. This used to be the West Coast version of Wisconsin when it came to flattening everyone with the ground attack.
The formula was simple – great offensive linemen, great running backs, duh.
The talent has been there over the last few seasons, but injuries have been a killer. Now, the offense that cranked out 2,700+ yard rushing seasons seem automatic didn’t hit 2,700 yards combined over the last two years.
There aren’t any established running backs, but as long as the O line is okay and healthy, everything else will be okay.
Stanford managed to overcome the lack of a ground attack in 2018 with a big play passing game, but last year the team was 1-8 when it ran for fewer than 130 yards.
Biggest Key To The Stanford Cardinal Defense
It would be nice if the D could start forcing more takeaways. As good as that side of the ball has been under David Shaw, forcing turnovers has never really been a thing.
It didn’t matter too much in the past, mainly because the offense was able to do its part to control games – owning the time of possession battle isn’t an issue. Last year, though, the struggling offense could’ve really, really used some help with takeaways leading to better field position and easy scores, but they weren’t there.
The Cardinal came up with two fumble recoveries in the opener against Northwestern and one more in each of the following two games. That was it. There wasn’t another recovered fumble in the final eight games, and there were a mere six interceptions after the season opener.
Key Stanford Cardinal Player To A Successful Season
QB Davis Mills, Sr.
Or Jack West. This isn’t a deep stable of quarterbacks with KJ Costello transferring to Mississippi State – if he can stay healthy to be the main man in the Mike Leach offense, look … out – and Jack Richardson transferring out. And then there’s Tanner McKee, the former star recruit who needs to get used to college life after spending the last few years on a church mission.
The 6-4, 211-pound West has the NFL size and tools to take over, but that might have to wait until next year. The 6-4, 212-pound Mills is a former five-star recruit who stepped in when Costello got hurt and completed 66% of his throws for 1,960 yards with 11 touchdowns and five picks. He can run a little bit, but he’s here for his next-level arm.
He showed glimpses – he hit Washington State for 504 yards and three scores, but who didn’t? – but the offense needs a steady star at the position.
Key Game To The Stanford Cardinal Season
at Arizona, Sept. 12
It’s not the biggest game on the schedule, and it’s not going to be the most important with road games at Oregon, Washington and Notre Dame to deal with, but this needs to be when the Cardinal have everything right.
It’s the second game of the year after tuning up against William & Mary. With USC to follow, and three of the next five games on the road after that, beating Arizona for the seventh time in a row is a must. Lose, and with the schedule ahead, just getting to six wins and a bowl game will be a fight.
– Stanford Cardinal Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2019 Stanford Fun Stats
– Stanford scored 39 total points in the 3rd quarter
– 4th Down Conversions: Opponents 10-of-16 (63%) – Stanford 4-of-13 (31%)
– Fumbles: Stanford 7 (lost 5) – Opponents 7 (lost 4)