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2007 Stanford Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 31, 2007


Things can't be any worse on The Farm than they were last year, when Stanford had one of the worst teams in Pac 10 history. New head man Jim Harbaugh intends to change all that, and he wants to do it in a hurry.

Stanford Cardinal

Preview 2007

By Richard Cirminiello    

- 2007 Stanford Offense Preview | 2007 Stanford Defense Preview
-
2007 Stanford Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Stanford Preview 


The storm has finally passed.  Now, it’s time for the healing to begin in Palo Alto. 

After suffering through a 1-11 season that was every bit as dreadful as the record indicated, Stanford begins the long climb back to respectability with a new boss on the sidelines.  The same Jim Harbaugh who earned the “Captain Comeback” moniker during his NFL career will be asked to engineer his toughest one yet as the head coach of a Cardinal program that reached new lows for futility.

Head coach: Jim Harbaugh
1st year at Stanford
4th year overall: 29-6
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 25, Def. 259, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 18
Ten Best Cardinal Players
1. WR Mark Bradford, Sr.
2. WR Richard Sherman, Soph.
3. WR Evan Moore, Sr.
4. LB Clinton Snyder, Soph.
5. CB Wopamo Osaisai, Jr.
6. DE Pannel Egboh, Jr.
7. OT Allen Smith, Jr.
8. RB Anthony Kimble, Jr.
9. NT Ekon Udofia, Soph.
10. P Jay Ottovegio, Sr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
1-11

Sept. 1

UCLA

Sept. 15

San Jose State

Sept. 22

Oregon

Sept. 29

Arizona State

Oct. 6

at USC

Oct. 13

TCU

Oct. 20

at Arizona

Oct. 27

at Oregon State

Nov. 3

Washington

Nov. 10

at Washington State

Nov. 24

Notre Dame

Dec. 1

California

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
5-7
2006 Record:
1-11
Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/2 at Oregon L 48-10
9/9 at San Jose St L 35-34
9/16 Navy L 37-9
9/23 Washington St L 36-10
9/30 at UCLA L 31-0
10/7 at Notre Dame L 31-10
10/14 Arizona L 20-7
10/21 at Arizona State L 38-3
11/4 USC L 42-0
11/11 at Washington W 20-3
11/18 Oregon State L 30-7
12/2 at California L 26-17

Harbaugh brings a fresh energy and a sorely-needed positive vibe to the Farm after working wonders in his coaching debut at the University of San Diego.  Sure, he’s bypassed a few rungs on the career ladder to get here, but Stanford needed to roll the dice, and hopes it landed its own version of Cal’s Jeff Tedford.  More than ever before, a culture of indifference has surrounded the institution, but Harbaugh has the right amount of charisma to address it head-on.  If nothing else, his offense will eventually bridge the gap to the glory days, when the Cardinal was fun to watch, even when it wasn’t winning a ton of games.   

Stanford has always attracted better talent than other private schools with strict academic standards, such as Vanderbilt and Duke, yet it’s in jeopardy of slipping into football obscurity.  Considering the talent gap with the rest of the league, there are absolutely no expectations in year one of the new regime, so the program will get a free pass in 2007 to adapt to a new system.  If the Cardinal finish anywhere but the conference cellar this fall, Harbaugh might generate consideration for Pac-10 Coach of the Year.     

What to watch for on offense: The Cardinal’s biggest strides this fall must come on offense, where quarterback T.C. Ostrander and future NFL receivers Evan Moore and Mark Bradford are all back for a fifth year. The only direction is up after averaging a mere ten points a game.  Harbaugh wants to eventually feature the up-tempo, attacking style of offense that typified Stanford teams of the past, but that won’t be possible until the offensive line proves it can be more than just a mild nuisance for opposing defenses. 

What to watch for on defense: Scott Shafer, an up-and-coming defensive innovator who most recently turned around the unit at Western Michigan, is being counted on to do the same thing at Stanford.  His expertise working with defensive backs will be especially useful on a Cardinal team that must replace two of last year’s top tacklers, safeties Brandon Harrison and Trevor Hooper.  As the defense matures, it’ll do so around linebacker Clinton Snyder and nose tackle Ekom Udofia, two kids that really stood out as freshmen a year ago.           

The team will be far better if …the offensive line makes a quantum leap from last season.  The unit allowed a nation’s-highest 50 sacks a year ago, while paving the way for the Pac-10’s worst running game.  Given time, Ostrander has the ability and the receiving corps to light a spark under the offense and pull off an upset or two in 2007.      

The Schedule: Outside of the non-conference schedule, there’s absolutely nothing to complain about. The Cardinal only has four road dates, all in conference play, meaning it gets five Pac-10 home games. The USC game would be a loss no matter where it’s played, so it might as well be on the road. Arizona, Oregon State and Washington State are the other away games, taking up a bulk of the season’s midsection, meaning there’s four at home to start the season and two to end it. On the down side, seven of the eight at home are against teams that went to bowls, including non-conference dates against San Jose State, TCU and Notre Dame.

Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Mark Bradford.  Whoever is taking snaps for the Cardinal this fall will benefit immensely from the return of fifth-year seniors, Bradford and Moore, after injuries cut short both of their 2006 seasons.  At 6-2, Bradford is a polished route runner with reliable hands and the fluid stride to make plays behind a secondary.       

Best Defensive Player: Sophomore LB Clinton Snyder.  In a lost season for the program, the Cardinal defense did find a promising young linebacker to build around for the next three seasons.  Snyder is an intense, high-motor defender, who pursues the ball extremely well in all directions, despite packing 235 pounds on his 6-4 frame.        

Key player to a successful season: Senior QB T.C. Ostrander. Can he actually run the show? He’s the only real option at the moment, but the coaching staff would love more competition and someone else to emerge as a possible challenger. Ostrander has good size and has been around long enough to know what he’s doing. Now he has to start completing more than half his passes and throw more touchdown passes than interceptions, neither or which he did last year.

The season will be a success if ... the Cardinal wins four games. Baby steps are needed after a one-win season. Even though the team should be better than last year (it’s almost impossible to be worse), this is still the tenth-best team in the league by far, at least until all the newcomers get their feet wet. Then it’s the tenth team by a little. With nine games against 2006 bowl teams, and the other three against Arizona, Washington State and Washington, who’ll likely be in the mix for a bowl this year, and without a non-conference layup, four wins would be a big step in Harbaugh’s first year.

Key game: Sept. 1 vs. UCLA. The Cardinal won’t beat the Bruins in the season opener, but it’s an important game to show right away that things have changed. Just being more competitive in the new era would be big for the team’s psyche. Even though UCLA is a top 15-caliber team, a big home blowout might be disastrous for Stanford, with two weeks to stew before playing San Jose State.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Third quarter scoring: Opponents 99; Stanford 20
- Sacks: Opponents 50 for 359 yards; Stanford 14 for 111 yards
- Average rushing yards per game: Opponents 210.5; Stanford 65.1

  

Related Stories
2007 Stanford Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 30, 2007
2007 Stanford Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 30, 2007
2007 Stanford Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 30, 2007








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