Stanford constitutes our eighth installment of a series on Pac-12 spring football camps.
Starters returning: 10 (5 offense, 6 defense), plus PK Jordan Williamson and P Ben Rhyne.
Refresher on 2013: In an 11-3 season, Cardinal burst out of the gate 5-0 before being waylaid at Utah, 27-21, severely damaging its national-title hopes. Stanford throttled Oregon at home, but its BCS-title aspirations were doomed in a 20-17 loss at USC. Still, it won the Pac-12 North and dispatched Arizona State easily on the road to win the league championship. The season ended with an upset loss against Michigan State in the Rose Bowl.
Coaching changes: Respected defensive coordinator Derek Mason left to become head coach at Vanderbilt, and Lance Anderson was promoted from within. Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford departed for a job at Boise State, and Mike Bloomgren stepped up from David Shaw’s staff. Duane Akina, former Washington quarterback and longtime aide at Texas, also joined the staff.
Spring concerns: Replacing four of five offensive-line starters, finding runners to replace 1,708-yard back Tyler Gaffney, and breaking in new starters after standout LBs Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov moved on.
Developments: Don’t worry for the Cardinal about the OL, which could be manned entirely by the recruiting class of 2012, which Shaw called the best for that position he has ever seen . . . one of those starters, Puyallup product Josh Garnett, “has been phenomenal as a leader for us,” Shaw said . . . Kyle Murphy, Andrus Peat, Graham Shuler and Johnny Caspers are the other projected OL starters . . . TE could be a bigger factor than it was in ’13, as Eric Cotton and Austin Hooper showed promise . . . RB looks to be handled by committee, with Barry Sanders Jr. and Kelsey Young termed “great” by Shaw, leading the parade . . . RB Remound Wright missed the second session of spring (halved by spring break) for disciplinary reasons . . . defense mostly ruled the spring, with linemen Henry Anderson and David Parry leading the charge . . . Noor Davis, moved from outside to inside linebacker . . . Shaw called DE Aziz Shittu probably the player of the spring . . . Cardinal lost eight players from the All-Pac-12 first and second teams, including OL David Yankey, DE Ben Gardner, Murphy, Skov, S Ed Reynolds from the first, and Gaffney, OL Cameron Fleming and OL Khalil Wilkes from the second . . . dynamic WR-KR Ty Montgomery sat out mending from knee and shoulder injuries but accepted the Jet Award in Omaha as the nation’s top return specialist . . . Luke Kaumatule, last year a TE, is now playing DE . . . LB A.J. Tarpley expected to have a big year; his 216 tackles over the past three seasons leads the team . . . SS Zach Hoffpauir didn’t participate while playing on the baseball team.
Spring game: The defense prevailed 47-23, forcing four turnovers. QB Kevin Hogan was 14 for 22 for 131 yards and two TDs, while reserve QB Ryan Burns was sacked six times and fumbled three snaps. Backup QB Evan Crower didn’t play because of a broken nose.
Quotable: Shaw, on the roster – “We lost a lot of guys. But we have a lot of guys coming back that have played a lot of football for us.”
2014 schedule: It’s rugged, and right away. Cardinal hosts USC Sept. 6, and in the last game of September, goes to Washington, which has troubled Stanford recently. Cardinal also must go to Oregon Nov. 1 and UCLA Nov. 28.