Stanford Preview 2006
Posted Aug 8, 2006

Considering Stanford was picked to finish at or near the bottom of the Pac 10 in the first year under head coach Walt Harris, the team had a very solid 5-6 season.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

It could even be argued that Harris deserved considering for Pac 10 Coach of the Year considering the team's talent level and a 4-4 conference record with the losses coming to Oregon, UCLA, USC and Cal teams that finished with a combined 40 wins. But more fans will only remember the 2006 Cardinal for one thing.

UC Davis 20, Stanford 17.

The Aggies were a mediocre D-IAA team finishing the year 6-5, and their stunning upset over the Cardinal proved to be the difference between a bowl bid and sitting at home for Harris's club.

Getting up for every game was one of the knocks on Harris's Pittsburgh teams, and for Stanford to keep its head above water in the improving Pac 10, it's going to have to win every close game and beat every team it's supposed to.

Head coach: Walt Harris
2nd season: 5-6
13th year overall: 68-74
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 25, Def. 19, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 19
Ten Best Cardinal Players
1. QB Trent Edwards, Sr.
2. WR Evan Moore, Sr.
3. WR Mark Bradford, Sr.
4. SS Brandon Harrison, Sr.
5. LB Michael Okwo, Sr.
6. P Jay Ottovegio, Soph.
7. LB Mike Silva, Sr.
8. CB Nick Sanchez, Sr.
9. FS Trevor Hooper, Sr.
10. OT Allen Smith, Jr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

9/2 at Oregon
9/9 at San Jose State
9/16 Navy
9/23 Washington State
9/30 at UCLA
10/7 at Notre Dame
10/14 Arizona
10/21 at Arizona State
11/4 USC
11/11 at Washington
11/18 Oregon  State
12/2 at California

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record: 5-6

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/10 at Navy  W 41-38
9/17 UC Davis L 20-17
10/1 Oregon L 44-20
10/8 at Wash State W 24-21
10/15 at Arizona W 20-16
10/22 Arizona State W 45-35
10/29 UCLA L 30-27 OT
11/5 at USC L 51-21
11/12 at Oregon St W 20-17
11/19 California L 27-3
11/26 Notre Dame L 38-31

Because of the academic restrictions, Stanford will never get the talent level within 100 miles of where other Pac 10 teams can get to, but that doesn't mean the program can't be successful. With a ton of returning experience and the coaching staff settled into its second season, there's no reason the program can't come up with its first winning season since 2001.
Stanford will never have a top defense, but that's O.K. playing in the Pac 10; no one outside of the UCLA basketball team can play D. However, the offense has to be good enough to hang 30 on the board on a regular basis, and Stanford couldn't do that last year with only five games with 24 or more points. In those five games, the Cardinal won three  with the two losses coming on last-second miracle comebacks by UCLA and Notre Dame. In other words, a more potent offense will mean more wins. It's that simple.
And a better attack should be an almost certainty with senior QB Trent Edwards possibly being this year's version of Jay Cutler and becoming a rising favorite among the NFL scouts. There's no depth in the receiving corps, but the combination of Mark Bradford and Evan Moore will arguably be second in the league only to USC's dynamic duo of Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith. The line is very big and very experienced, but it has to keep Edwards clean after allowing 83 sacks in the last two seasons and getting no push whatsoever for the running game. The backs aren't good enough to make plays on their own.
It'll be a fun second season under Harris with at least one major upset and plenty of exciting shootouts. Most importantly, there's no UC Davis on the schedule.

The Schedule: Only having five home games might not seem that pretty, but two of the road games are against San Jose State and Cal. Even so, it's not a slate conducive for a big season having to go on the road to face Oregon right off the bat and with trips to UCLA, Notre Dame and Arizona State. This wasn't a bad road team last year going 4-1, so a win at Washington is a possibility along with a few upsets. Forget about going through the home slate cleanly with USC coming to Stanford Stadium, but there's no reason the Cardinal can't go 4-1 beating Navy, Washington State, Arizona and Oregon State.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Trent Edwards. It's his time to step up and be the league's best quarterback. It's asking a lot in a conference with Arizona State's Sam Keller and USC's John David Booty (or Mark Sanchez), but he has all the tools and talents to be a difference maker in at least two wins over bigger name programs.

Best Defensive Player: Senior SS Brandon Harrison. There are other good veterans on the Cardinal D from linebackers Michael Okwo and Mike Silva, to defensive backs Nick Sanchez and Trevor Hooper, but Harrison is the steadiest all-around playmaker and the tone-setter for the secondary.

Key player to a successful season: Offensive tackles Jon Cochran, Jeff Edwards and Allen Smith. Stanford finished last in the Pac 10 in total offense and last in rushing offense because of an offensive line that finished 116th in the nation in sacks allowed and paved the way for a mere 2.6 yards per carry. The tackles have size and experience, and now they have to produce to allow the skill players time and room to work.

The season will be a success if ... Stanford wins seven games. It's a better team than last year when it won five games and came within a loss to UC Davis from going to a bowl game. Improving by another two games isn't asking for too much considering all the returning experience.

Key game: September 2nd at Oregon. The Ducks ripped through the Cardinal 44-20 last season, but these two play in the season opener this season. If you're going to pull off an upset, the best chance to do it is the first game of the season when neither team has had any game experience. While Oregon has plenty of veterans returning, a great showing in Autzen Stadium would do wonders with three winnable games (at San Jose State, Navy and Washington State) ahead. A blowout loss wouldn't send up panic flares, but it wouldn't be a good sign.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Fourth quarter scoring: Opponents 116 - Stanford 50
- Rushing touchdowns: Opponents 23 - Stanford 8
- Fourth down conversions: Opponents 9 of 16 (56%) - Stanford 1 of 7 (14%)

The Last Time Stanford…
…played in a bowl game…2001 (Seattle Bowl vs. Georgia Tech)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…1996 (Michigan State)
…was shutout…2004 (UCLA)
…scored 50 points…2002 (San Jose State)
…went undefeated…1940
…won a conference title…1999 (Pac-10)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…1998 (Todd Husak)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…1991 (Tommy Vardell)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…1999 (Troy Walters)
…had a first-round draft choice…2003 (OT Kwame Harris)

Related Stories
Stanford Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 8, 2006
Stanford Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 8, 2006
Stanford Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 8, 2006

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