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2009 CFN Stanford Preview
Stanford RB Toby Gerhart
Stanford made great strides under Jim Harbaugh, but the team failed to come through down the stretch. Is there enough talent to work around Toby Gerhart to get to a bowl game? Check out the CFN 2009 Stanford Preview.
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2009 CFN Stanford Preview |
2009 Stanford Depth
2008 Stanford Preview |
2007 Stanford Preview |
Half-empty or half-filled? It depends who you ask.
Head coach: Jim Harbaugh
3rd year at Stanford: 9-15
6th year overall: 38-21
Off. 24, Def. 23, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 12
Best Cardinal Players
1. RB Toby Gerhart, Sr.
2. LB Clinton
3. S Bo McNally, Sr.
4. DE Tom Keiser, Soph.
5. DE Erik Lorig, Sr.
6. RT Chris Marinelli, Sr.
Owen Marecic, Jr.
8. WR Ryan Whalen, Jr.
9. LT Matt Kopa,
10. DT Ekom Udofia, Sr.
9/12 at Wake Forest
9/19 San Jose State
10/10 at Oregon State
10/17 at Arizona
10/24 Arizona State
10/31 OPEN DATE
11/14 at USC
11/28 Notre Dame
8/28 Oregon St
9/6 at Arizona St L 41-17
9/13 at TCU L 31-14
San Jose St W
9/27 at Wash W 35-28
10/4 at No Dame L 28-21
Arizona W 24-23
10/18 at UCLA L 23-20
10/25 OPEN DATE
Wash St W
11/8 at Oregon L 35-28
11/15 USC L 45-23
11/22 at California L 37-16
11/29 OPEN DATE
absolutely no doubt that third-year head coach Jim Harbaugh has Stanford
moving in the right direction, the school lost its final three games of
2008 when just one win was needed for bowl eligibility. Sure, the
opponents were Oregon, USC, and Cal, but that was just another reminder
of how far the program has to go before joining the Pac-10 elite.
While last year ended with a thud, it’s been a terrific offseason
for Stanford. First, Harbaugh stayed put, turning away multiple suitors,
and then he assembled what could someday be one of the best recruiting
classes in school history. He and his staff went as far as New York,
Maryland, and Georgia to land blue-chippers, winning some unexpected
battles along the way. The future is bright on the Farm. The present
doesn’t look so bad either.
Stanford welcomes back eight starters
on offense and seven on defense, boasting as much depth as it’s had in
years. The most glaring weakness is the passing game, which is why the
battle between senior Tavita Pritchard and hot-shot rookie Andrew Luck
will remain such a compelling storyline. If Luck can build on the
momentum he created in the spring, the Cardinal just might be ready for
the next phase of its rebuilding plan.
Stanford won four games in
2007. Last year, it won five times. If it can get No. 6 this season,
look out. It could provide the spark this program has been after for
almost a decade.
What to watch for on offense:
The Major League Baseball draft. Where would the Stanford offense be
without RB Toby Gerhart, the 1,000-yard rusher and All-Pac-10 second
teamer? The program hopes not to find out until 2010. The problem is
that Gerhart is also a talented slugger, who’s likely to get drafted in
June. How high he goes could impact what type of helmet he’s wearing in
August. Now, he’s expressed a desire to play football for one final
season, but that’s subject to change, depending upon the outlook of his
watch for on defense: Developments in the secondary. The front seven
is fine. The defensive backfield, however, is in a state of flux. The
staff has pulled out all the stops, moving some of its better athletes
from offense over to the other side of the ball. The Cardinal yielded 18
touchdown passes and picked off just seven in 2008, despite getting
plenty of help from the pass rush. The coaches are keeping their fingers
crossed that sophomore Michael Thomas can develop into a lockdown cover
guy, and former playmakers Delano Howell and Richard Sherman can
multi-task in 2009.
team will be far better if… the passing game can produce more plays.
Whether it’s Tavita Pritchard or Andrew Luck at the controls, Stanford
needs more production from a passing attack that ranked 103rd
nationally last season and had four more interceptions than touchdowns.
If nothing else, the quarterbacks must make defenses think twice about
stacking the line to stop Toby Gerhart and an improved running game.
The Cardinal starts off the year with a key Pac 10 game
at Washington State. Considering how bad the Cougars were last
year, and with a date at Wake Forest to follow, Stanford can't
drop the game in Pullman. While playing the Demon Deacons will
be tough, seven of the final ten games are at home including
four of the final five. Despite what Jim Harbaugh might believe,
and even with what happened two years ago, the USC game will
almost certainly be a loss so that might as well be on the road.
Getting Oregon and Cal at home is a plus, while facing Notre
Dame on The Farm will be an interesting way to close out the
Best offensive player:
Senior RB Toby Gerhart. Raise your hand if you saw Gerhart’s junior
season before it happened. A year after missing all but one game with a
knee injury, he erupted for 1,136 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground.
A 237-pound bruiser, he powered his way through defenses, wearing them
out and requiring multiple tacklers to bring him down. More than just
Stanford’s best offensive player, he’s the heart and soul of this squad.
defensive player: Senior LB Clinton Snyder. No, Snyder
didn’t build on his breakthrough sophomore year last fall, making fewer
big plays and missing the All-Pac-10 team. Don’t expect a repeat this
season. He plays linebacker as if he belongs in Los Angeles, stopping
the run, rushing the passer, and defending the pass like a 231-pound
safety. The catalyst for the defense, he brings a contagious fire and
intensity to the rest of the unit.
Key player to a
successful season: Redshirt freshman QB Andrew Luck. No,
it’s not fair to heap so much pressure on such a young player, but no
one doubts he has the potential to really elevate Stanford to another
level. It’s been too long since the Cardinal had a quarterback, who
could stretch a defense and force it to respect the passing attack. Luck
has that potential, provided he can beat out incumbent Tavita Pritchard
The season will be a
success if ... Stanford manufactures enough wins for a
bowl invite. That’s code for six wins in 12 games, or a one-game
improvement versus last year. Jim Harbaugh has taken this rebuilding
project in steps, making improvements in each of the last two seasons.
Getting to the next rung on the ladder requires a postseason game for
just the second time this decade, a realistic goal considering all of
the returning veterans.
Nov. 28 vs. Notre Dame. The possibility exists that the Cardinal could
need this game in the regular season finale to become bowl-eligible for
the first time since 2001. You think that’ll create an unusual level of
excitement on the Farm? With a national TV audience in attendance, what
better vehicle than the Irish for Jim Harbaugh to showcase how far along
his program has come?
2008 Fun Stats:
- First quarter scoring:
Opponents 53 - Stanford 51
- Second quarter scoring: Stanford 117 -
- Sacks: Stanford 34 for 252 yards - Opponents 21 for