Stanford Cardinal Preview 2022: Offense
Where’s the pounding? Where’s the dominant force running game that made Stanford such a killer? The offense was awful at moving the chains, it averaged just 302 yards and 20 points per game overall, and it needs to find something it can rely on after struggling so much.
Worst of all, the attack got worse as the season went on, failing to score more than 14 points in any of the last five games and in six of the last seven. But …
The talent is there on the offensive front. It didn’t generate enough of a push and the pass protection wasn’t there, but the line is full of former great recruits who should be able to pop – at least in theory. Four starters are back, Myles Hinton and Walter Rouse are next-level caliber tackles, and now the ground attack has to work.
Leading rusher Nathaniel Peat is off to Missouri, and second-leading back is off to USC. EJ Smith is a good-sized runner who averaged over five yards per carry on his 26 carries last season, but the depth needs developing. It doesn’t help to lose sledgehammer FB Houston Heimuli to BYU.
As always, Stanford has a quarterback who looks out of NFL central casting. Tanner McKee did what he could under rough circumstances, hitting 65% of his passes with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He’s got the 6-6, 226-pound size and tools to do a lot more if he’s got time work.
Leading yardage receiver Benjamin Yurosek is back at tight end after averaging over 15 yards per catch on his 43 grabs. Elijah Higgins is a 6-3, 235-pound physical matchup problem who led the team with 45 catches, and John Humphreys brings the 6-5 size and downfield ability. 6-4 Brycen Tremayne and 6-2 Michael Wilson are also big, physical receivers.
Stanford Cardinal Preview 2022: Defense
The offense might have struggled, but at least it’s full of experience. The defense struggled, and it’s all but starting over after losing a ton of seniors and key parts.
The Cardinals couldn’t force takeaways, couldn’t come up with sacks, and they were miserable against the run allowing 236 yards per game. Expect this young group, though, to be more physical.
There was nothing happening in the backfield from the offensive front, but that’s about to change with more expected from the ends. Freshman David Bailey was a huge recruit who’ll be turned loose right away, and edge rusher Stephen Herron is back after leading the team with just three sacks.
There isn’t a ton of size in the interior, but it’ll be a quick, deep group full of 260ish options around 6-4, 290-pound Tobin Phillips.
The linebacking corps gets back leading tackler Levani Damuni – he came up with 88 tackles, and second leading tackler Ricky Miezan is a 6-2, 242-pound presence who made 68 tackles. They’re experienced, but that has to translate into production against the run.
The secondary has no reason to not be better – other than not getting any help from the pass rush last year.
Kendall Williamson will once again be one of the team’s leading tacklers at one safety spot, and Kyu Blu Kelly is an NFL-caliber corner who came up with two picks and broke up ten passes.
In a major coup, the secondary is adding Patrick Fields from Oklahoma at safety – he’ll instantly up the overall production.