Levine Toilolo Named Starting Tight End For Stanford

This is the thread to follow all the Stanford Cardinal offseason and summer news leading up to the start of the 2010 college football regular season!

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Stanford Finished 27th in AP Preseason Top 25 Poll

Stanford received 81 votes, 4th most in the Pac-10 behind Oregon, Oregon State and USC. Much of the hype is built around Heisman candidate Andrew Luck and an offense that returns mostly intact, but the big question is can that pass defense get better and can Toby Gerhart be replaced?

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Stanford Ranked #24 In Sports Illustrated College Football Preview

Sports Illustrated is unveiling their 2010 college football preview edition tomorrow. The issue will be ranking the Stanford Cardinal 24th in the nation to start the season.

Although the Cardinal lose all-world running back Toby Gerhart, they will be looking to replace his talent with a platoon of three running backs: Stepfan Taylor, Jeremy Stewart and Tyler Gaffney. Taylor finished last season as the team’s third leading running back with 303 yards on 56 carries. The top two rushers were Gerhart and QB Andrew Luck.

Although the team loses Gerhart, I’d imagine many teams in the nation would be happy coming into the 2010 season simply with Luck. The red-shirt sophomore QB threw for 2,575 yards last season with a 56.3% completion percentage and 13 touchdowns, alongside 4 interceptions. Needless to say, while he might not be a Heisman favorite, he’s certainly in the discussion of potential finalists heading into this season.

Of course, every good passing attack needs some semblance of a running game. As offensive coordinator David Shaw told Sports Illustrated, "[W]e don’t want to be one of those teams that just lines up and throws 60 times a game. We want to play tough and physical between the tackles and run the ball.”

The big question throughout the season will be what will we see from the trio of running backs. It’s hard to replace an all-time Stanford RB like Gerhart, but if they can provide even a significant portion of his yards, the Cardinal could make a run at the Pac-10 title in 2010.

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Stanford Opens Training Camp With High Expectations, Questions

Tom Fitzgerald previews Stanford football training camp, which begins Monday. Much of the focus is on Sophomore Andrew Luck, who will be pressured to lead the offense after the departure of Toby Gerhart. But Stanford’s defense must improve as well:

According to senior nose tackle Sione Fua, the defense is tired of hearing how bad it’s been. “The defense has really taken that to heart,” he said. “Switching to the 3-4 is great. It’s better suited to us.”

New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, Fua said, “has a system but he allows us to be football players. There will be more blitzing, a lot of different looks. They’re not going to know where we’re coming from. It’s going to be a pretty dramatic change.”

Fitzgerald also asks five questions, the most pressing being the obvious question of who will replace Toby Gerhart:

That’s easy: nobody. But if a posse of tailbacks can come near his 1,871 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns, Stanford would be delighted. Senior Jeremy Stewart (who might have two years of eligibility left because injuries sidelined him early last year) is up against sophs Stepfan Taylor and Tyler Gaffney.

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Stanford Receives 41 Votes In Inaugural USA Today Coaches' Poll

Preseason polls really have very little meaning in the big picture, but it can still be solid validation of expectations for a program. For the Stanford Cardinal, the first coaches poll of 2010 has them receiving 41 votes. While not yet ranked, this is the first time since 2002 that Stanford has received votes in a preseason football poll. Of course, that season ended for the Cardinal with a 2-9 record.

Although Stanford enters the season without Toby Gerhart, expectations are still running high for the fightin’ Jim Harbaughs. Harbaugh has brought some level of respect back to The Farm. We’ll see if they can meet such lofty expectations in 2010.

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