Stanford Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
Stanford Cardinal
Posted Aug 8, 2006

Stanford Cardinal Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – A pair beats an ace every time – With the arrival of Walt Harris at the Farm, the question wasn’t so much when Stanford was going to throw the ball, but how many times a game.  Trent Edwards was going to be the next Harris’ protégé and the Cardinal was going to throw the ball all over the yard, making Edwards the next proverbial ‘underrated’ star.  The only problem was that the receiver Evan Moore went down with an injury early in the season and Mark Bradford was forced to become the go-to guy in the Cardinal offense.  But, with Moore back and healthy for this fall, this receiving duo is twice as dangerous as they were last year.  Bradford, a senior, led the Cardinal with 37 catches last year for 609 yards and 6 TDs and is a strong receiver after the catch (he tops the scales at 6’2” and 200 pounds).  Moore is a small forward playing receiver, but has hands like a steel trap.  The 6’7”, 235 pound wide out was effective during the 2004 season and was ready to burst through in 2005.  Unfortunately, “the Ocho” got injured in the first game of the year, injuring his hip and missing the remainder of the year.  With both of these quality receivers on the field at the same time, the decision becomes how you attack them.  Most teams would probably choose to single cover Moore, thinking that he won’t be able to outrun a single cover corner, and that Moore will win any jump ball/fade situations.  But, opponents can’t disrupt routes at the line of scrimmage if they play single on Moore, because he’ll brush him aside with his strength and have two yards on even the fastest corner in the league.  So, if teams double him, Bradford has the speed to take people deep and put a quick six up on the board.  If Edwards can’t have a 3,500 yard season with these two out on the perimeter, it was never meant to be.

2nd and Seven – Okwo Gumbo – Michael Okwo isn’t a household name, not even in Pac-10 circles, but that could all change this year.  It’s not really surprising that he’s not as well known, given the two linebackers that held down starting positions last season - Kevin Schimmelmann and Jon Alston.  But, that will change this year as the senior takes over in the middle of Stanford’s defense.  He’s been a demon on special teams in past years, but as a quick, fast and physical presence in the middle, Okwo will provide the foundation in the middle of defensive coordinator A.J. Christoff’s defense.  He has started in the past when injuries felled current starters, but this year, he’s going to have to step into the leadership role.  No matter, Okwo is going to be the sideline to sideline performer who will make his presence known early and often.

3rd and Three – Improvement needed – Even though Walt Harris’s offenses at Pittsburgh took advantage of quarterbacks like Rod Rutherford and Tyler Palko, in other words, he liked to throw the ball, the offense could still run the ball effectively enough to keep defensive coordinators from playing nickel and dime defensive schemes for a full 60 minutes.  But, last year was a bit ridiculous from a running game standpoint.  Stanford’s running game produced all of 1,015 yards rushing.  Leading rusher Jason Evans ran for 248 yards…for the season!  How many running backs ran for more in one game, much less a full 11 game season?  You can answer that one yourself.  But, with their entire offensive line back in the fold, including All-Pac-10 candidate guard Alex Fletcher, the running game should be much better.  And, it better be.  Remember Harris was the offensive coordinator when Eddie George was his Heisman at Ohio State, so the words ‘run the ball’ aren’t swear words in his vocabulary.  Someone needs to establish themselves as a 15 to 17 carry a game back, but if they can find a capable threat, Harris will give him the ball.  Then, watch this Stanford offense go to a whole new level.

4th and One – Brotherly Love – When the Cardinal defensive line takes the field this year, one half of that front will be named Udofia.  Udeme Udofia started last year as an outside linebacker and finished the season with 36 tackles, including 5 tackles for a loss.  The athletically gifted Udofia will move to defensive end when the defense morphs into a 4-3 and drop back into an OLB spot when they move back to the 3-4 they ran last year.  But, the younger Udofia may end up being even more important, clogging up the middle with his 6’2”, 335 pound frame.  As one of the most sought after recruits in the nation in 2005, Ekom Udofia did not see the field playing behind star NT Babatunde Oshinowo, but should start at a defensive tackle position this fall.  These two are intelligent and athletic and should have an even greater impact as a brother duo, than as a one man band that played last season.

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