Another in a series reviewing Pac-12 spring-football camps. Today, Stanford, which is coming off three consecutive BCS-bowl appearances.
Starters returning – 14 (6 offense, 8 defense) plus PK Jordan Williamson.
Refresher on 2012 – Stanford (11-2) played in its second straight BCS bowl, winning the Rose over Wisconsin, and David Shaw won the league’s coach-of-the-year vote for the second time in a two-year stint. Cardinal essentially launched a big season with an early upset of USC, then were upended by Washington, and later lost a controversial game at the wire against Notre Dame. But Stanford finished on an eight-game win streak, the big breakthrough an overtime win at Oregon.
Coaching changes – Shaw elevated two staffers to full-time status, one of them Clover Park grad Tavita Pritchard, the former Cardinal quarterback who will coach running backs.
Major spring concerns – Finding a replacement for career-rushing leader Stepfan Taylor . . . brainstorming a revised offensive thrust now that TEs Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo have moved to the pros . . . refining the picture at the linebacker positions.
Developments – QB Kevin Hogan, who took over in mid-season, 2012, looked sharp and said he felt like it, telling CBSSports.com, “Our coaches tell us that there are few NFL teams that are running the complexity of our offense. We carry over 300 plays going into each game. Last spring I was kind of lost, trying to find my way in the offense. I was mostly focused on getting up to the line and running the play, instead of on what the defense was doing. I want to get in the head of the opposing defensive coordinator.” . . . Evan Crower, a 6-5, 215-pound junior from San Diego, appears to be the backup . . . Josh Nunes, who started last season at QB, had a bench-pressing accident in February that would have required a long rehab, so he gave up football . . . so did Lynnwood High product Geoff Meinken, a fullback who had knee problems . . . meanwhile, QB Brett Nottingham, who was battling Nunes a year ago for the job, transferred to Columbia . . . TE Luke Kaumatule, 6-7, 260-pound Honolulu product, is the heir to that tradition, but Cardinal will likely become more wide receiver-oriented, with good springs by 6-2, 215-pound junior Ty Montgomery (troubled by leg injuries last season), 6-1, 190-pound freshman Michael Rector (Bellarmine High product who was originally committed to Washington) and 6-2, 197-pound RS freshman Kodi Whitfield . . . Taylor’s RB spot may be manned by Anthony Wilkerson and Tyler Gaffney, 221-pound back who missed considerable football while playing baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ chain . . . On the O-line, Cardinal seeking replacement for C Sam Schwartzstein, and elsewhere, it’s possible two-year starter David Yankey could move from guard to LT to accommodate Puyallup product Josh Garnett, a rising sophomore . . . RT Cameron Fleming looks ready to blossom . . . defense looks potent, bad news for Pac-12 foes because Stanford led league in scoring defense (17.2), total defense (336.2 ypg), and by a wide margin, run defense (97.0 ypg) . . . Cardinal also had 37 sacks more than opponents . . . all-league Chase Thomas and NFL free-agent signee Alex Debniak figure to be replaced, at least partly, by senior Blake Lueders (6-5, 258) and James Vaughters (6-2, 245), who had four starts a year ago . . . LB Shayne Skov, an All-American possibility, missed the first half of Stanford drills as he sat out winter quarter, a suspension related to a DUI a year earlier.
Spring game — It returned to campus after an appearance at San Francisco’s Kezar Stadium last year, and the defense beats the offense, 40-34, as Hogan completed 14 of 23 passes for 170 yards and two TDs and Williamson hit field goals of 42 and 45 yards.
2013 schedule — If the optimum schedule means tougher games at home and weaker ones on the road, Stanford looks equipped for a possible run at a national title. Cardinal gets Arizona State, Washington, UCLA and Oregon in Palo Alto.