2014 Stanford Preview: What You Need To Know
Stanford WR Ty Montgomery
Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About Stanford (Getty Images)
2014 Stanford Preview
What You Need To Know...
2014 Depth Chart & Unit Rankings To Come This Summer
What You Need To Know About The Offense: Stanford needs to be more efficient, and coordinator Mike Bloomgren knows it. The coach's attack led the Pac-12 in third-down conversions a year ago, yet it also ranked No. 10 in the league in red-zone touchdowns. The Cardinal hopes to trade more field goal attempts for touchdowns, a quest that falls on the shoulders of third-year starting QB Kevin Hogan. The program is looking for more leadership and clutch plays out of the steady veteran, especially now that prolific RB Tyler Gaffney and four starting linemen have graduated. Receivers Ty Montgomery, Devon Cajuste and Michael Rector form a dangerous trio on the outside, and LT Andrus Peat already has NFL scouts swooning. But who else is ready to step up and assist the sometimes necrotic offense? Kelsey Young and Barry Sanders are battling to replace Gaffney, bringing a lot more zip and wiggle than any of the team's recent workhorses. At tight end, a position the offense loves to utilize, redshirt freshman Eric Cotton has budding star potential. The O-line ought to be fine in time, because the staff has recruited the position so well. Junior LG Joshua Garnett, in particular, is set to erupt from the ranks of the anonymous.
What You Need To Know About The Defense: > Shayne Skov. Trent Murphy. Ed Reynolds. Ben Gardner. The Cardinal lost a lot of key parts to the NFL, but Vanderbilt may have gotten the program's seminal cog. Former coordinator Derek Mason is now in Nashville, leaving a big void on the staff that Lance Anderson will attempt to fill. Fortunately, Anderson has been with the team since 2007, so he knows the personnel and the expectations. Stanford has holes, sure. But it also has enough returning talent to still lead the Pac-12 in defense in 2014. While the unit won't be as seasoned or as deep, DE Henry Anderson, linebackers James Vaughters and A.J. Tarpley and defensive backs Alex Carter and Jordan Richards are back to make sure the train stays on the tracks. Plus, veterans, such as NG David Parry, DE Blake Lueders and CB Wayne Lyons, are itching to finally bask in a bigger spotlight. The Cardinal won't be as suppressive as it was the last two years. However, it'll still be rugged in the front seven and among the toughest defenses this side of the SEC.
Players You Need To Know
1. WR Ty Montgomery, Sr.
After scratching the surface of his potential in 2011 and 2012, Montgomery erupted into the outside playmaker Stanford had been seeking for years. The all-purpose homerun hitter scored 14 touchdowns in 2013, two on the ground, two on kickoffs and 10 as a Second Team All-Pac-12 receiver. He wound up leading the Cardinal with 61 catches for 958 yards, while ranking second in the country in kickoff return average. Montgomery can fly. That he can fly at 6-1 and 215 pounds makes him one of the toughest assignments in the country for defensive backs.
2. LT Andrus Peat, Jr.
Peat isn't just one of the premier young tackles in college football. He's also an extremely important cog of an offense that'll be breaking in four new starting blockers. Peat quickly assimilated in his first year as a starter, earning Second Team All-Pac-12 while playing one of the toughest positions on the field. The 6-7, 312-pounder is the prototype in a blindside protector, long-armed, flexible and agile enough to seal off the edge. With one more solid season, Peat could wind up being the first offensive lineman chosen in the 2015 NFL Draft.
3. CB Alex Carter, Jr.
The ascent has begun for Carter, a blue-chip recruit from the 2012 class. He's started 21 games on the Farm, earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 as a rookie out of Briar Woods (Va.) High School and as a second-year player in 2013. Last season, he became more comfortable in coverage, making a team-high eight pass breakups to go along with 59 tackles. At 6-0 and 200 pounds, with the quickness and the aggression to light up opposing receivers, he's exactly what the NFL is seeking in a cornerback these days. Though limited by a spring hip injury, Carter expects to be at full strength this summer.
4. DE Henry Anderson, Sr.
There's an opening for defensive superstars to blossom on the Farm this fall. Anderson is ready to fill one of them. The versatile fifth-year senior has sort of lurked in the shadows at Stanford, twice earning All-Pac-12 recognition, but never truly breaking out. In eight games in 2013, for example, he had just 19 tackles, four stops for loss and three sacks. But the Cardinal coaches know that Anderson has a very high ceiling. He's an atypical 6-6, 295-pounder, with the intensity, strength and athleticism to blow up into an All-American and a hot NFL prospect this fall.
5. SS Jordan Richards, Sr.
Richards will once again be the Cardinal's enforcer out of the secondary, and one of the unit's veteran leaders. He's been a standout starter at strong safety the past two seasons, patrolling the field with all of the intensity and physicality of a linebacker. In 2013, the rugged 5-11, 208-pounder earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 for a second time by making 69 stops, four tackles for loss, a team-high three picks and six pass breakups. While Richards is a thumper, he has also improved his coverage skills since cracking the lineup in 2012.
6. QB Kevin Hogan, Jr.
Hogan took another—small—step forward in 2013 as the leader of the Cardinal offense. Was he prolific? Not quite. But he was improved and he was what Stanford needed him to be—a leader who can beat defenses with his arm and his legs. Hogan was fourth in Pac-12 passing efficiency, completing 180-of-295 passes for 2,630 yards, 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He's also the program's leading returning rusher with 355 yards and two touchdowns on 84 carries. At 6-4 and 228 pounds, Hogan requires defenders to drag him down, in and outside of the pocket.
7. LB A.J. Tarpley, Sr.
The graduation of Shayne Skov means Tarpley is poised to take over as the leader of the linebackers, a role he's qualified to handle. Tarpley has started 31 career games on the inside, peaking in 2013 with 93 stops, five tackles for loss, a sack and four pass breakups. Now, the 6-2, 238-pounder is not an elite athlete, with maximum range. But, like Skov, Tarpley operates with passion, the right angles and the keen instincts to be in the right place at the right time. He's set to up the ante after being named honorable mention All-Pac-12 last season.
8. WR Devon Cajuste, Sr.
Cajuste is a big receiver. And a big-play receiver. The once-overlooked 6-4, 228-pounder was a revelation for the Cardinal offense in 2013, turning just 28 receptions into 642 yards and five touchdowns. Cajuste filled a void that used to be the domain of the team's tight ends by giving QB Kevin Hogan a sizable target with which to connect. Cajuste possesses the quickness and the toughness to pick up substantial yardage after the catch, especially when smaller defensive backs are unable to drag him down.
9. LB James Vaughters, Sr.
Is this the year Vaughters unlock his untapped potential? He's shown flashes as a pass-rushing outside linebacker, but too few for his talent level. Last year, for instance, the hard-hitting 6-2, 254-pounder started all 14 games, yet only contributed 36 tackles, six stops for loss and four sacks. The Cardinal is now demanding more from its senior, since linebackers Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov have graduated from the program. Vaughters is determined to intimidate, both as a run defender and as an edge rusher.
10. CB Wayne Lyons, Sr.
Without a lot of attention, Lyons played very well as a full-timer in 2013, finally getting an opportunity to fully showcase his talents in the secondary. He was fourth on the team with 69 tackles, 4.5 stops for loss, two picks and two forced fumbles. At 6-1 and 196 pounds, the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. native has rare size and athleticism among cornerbacks. If Lyons can get his technique and his fundamentals to match his explosiveness, this won't be his final year playing the game.