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Opponent Offensive Preview: The Stanford Cardinal

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Buncha tree huggin’ hippies......

NCAA Football: Stanford at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I promised you last week that my sullen nature would show it’s face throughout these write-ups. After all, most of my free time is spent watching the unreal depths of hell on insert streaming service here with my two under 8 daughters, playing hot potato with my 7 month old daughter, largely debating what’s going to be for dinner this week with my wife while acknowledging we already know because it’s the same menu as last week, and also the fact that last weekend I went to Clemson’s First Friday parade, which was very nice except I also had a bitter distaste for it since my life in sports is nothing but pain (you see, I am also a FALCONS fan.....OUCH).

However, given the fact that we won a game (I’ll admit I didn’t watch it, though I am a box score hero for all times,) I will have a more rosy disposition on this offensive preview. The Stanford Cardinal (not Catholic) have a football history, one we’d actually like to have. However, Stanford, if you have not been, is also a super weird place with mostly bad weather and a completely morbid atmosphere. Maybe it’s changed since a young Stanimal visited in 2000, and maybe it’s just that I hate Spanish tile roofs, but overall I found the place rather droll and regardless of the potential pain we may feel this weekend, I feel confident saying that my Vanderbilt experience far exceeded that one.

Anywho, on to what this Stanford team is about.

Last Week: Stanford 42 - (14) USC 28

Welp....that ain’t looking good for us. The Cardinal kicked the Trojans ass hard last week, and USC was a team that was desperately attempting to claim they were back. Instead, they are on to their bajillionth coaching search since Pete Carroll said “I’m hitting the pros before y’all get popped for my shenanigans”. The problem is that USC team was actually pretty talented, and Coach David Shaw is, well, actually a pretty damn good coach. In the plus corner is that Stanford didn’t win this game as much as USC just lost it (9 penalties for 111 yards? Who are you? The Falcons? Wait....) But unfortunately we’re not the greatest against teams that have actual discipline.

Quarterbacks

The starter here is Tanner McKee, who was the #46 ranked player in the country per 247, went on a mission for a couple of years, and is now leading the Cardinal offense. Last week he was 16/23 for 234 yards and 2 TDs. He also had a great QBR (here’s to the artist formerly known as DotP) at 97.7. Jack West started against Kansas State but McKee got more run and it looks like this job is McKee’s for the foreseeable future.

Running Backs

A little bit of a running back by committee going on right now between Nathaniel Peat and Austin Jones. Jones has the most carries on the team at 19, but he only has 38 yards. Peat has 9 carries for 118 yards. Granted, 87 of those yards came on a big breakaway touchdown against USC last week, but Peat was more explosive than Jones last week, and Jones got four more carries. Stanford has gone back to the power run game, so both these guys figure to play into their gameplan.

Wide Receivers

Last week, Elijah Higgins, Brycen Tremayne, and John Humphries were the preferred targets for McKee (to go along with Austin Jones who had a couple of nice catches). I wouldn’t necessarily classify this group as formidable. For starters, they lost their #1 target last year in Simi Fehoko. This seems to be a more spread the wealth kind of look than anything else. That is not to say that I believe our defense can handle that.....but it’s just an outsider looking in.

Offensive Line

This is the bread and butter for David Shaw’s team this year. If there is one thing that Stanford has done well, it has recruited on the offensive line. This group has a good bit of depth and some recruiting cache (notably Myles Hinton and Walter Rouse, their bookend tackles). I find this discussion from David Shaw to be disgusting, but I also question how a guy out of Greater Atlanta Christian in Atlanta (referencing Hinton) isn’t more interested in a five hour trip to Nashville than they are to go to a spanish tile hole on the west coast. The point being they are winning these recruiting battles....we are not. So this offensive line is pretty formidable.

Outlook

Stanford gets thumped by KSU 24-7, then goes and thumps (14 and they’re baaaack) USC 42-28. Which team shows up? Who knows. What I do know is that in a battle of disciplined teams.....Stanford has it. Stanford has 14 total penalties for 92 yards in two games, and generally speaking doesn’t beat themselves. I can’t say that about Colorado State, and right now I’m inclined to think it doesn’t happen here. That.....however....doesn’t mean that spanish tile roofs aren’t miserable.