July 24, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal head coach David Shaw (left), running back Stepfan Taylor (center) and linebacker Chase Thomas talk to the media during PAC-12 Media Day at Universal Studios Hollywood. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
The Stanford Cardinal are the third team ranked in the top 25 from the Pac-12 by Sports Illustrated, along with Oregon and USC.
The USC Trojans and Oregon Ducks are getting all the buzz this season, but what about the Stanford Cardinal? The Cardinal were one of the two BCS Pac-12 representatives, and they'll be retaining their identity even with Andrew Luck gone. Despite losing physical players like Coby Fleener, David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin, there is still a lot to like about a team that has a solid feature running back in Stepfan Taylor, two great tight ends in Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo and an excellent linebacking corps led by Shayne Skov and Chase Thomas.
The most prolific quarterback in school history may be gone, but that doesn't mean Stanford's offense will change. "We're going to run power," said Cardinal running back Stepfan Taylor. "That's what we hang our hat on." While two-time Heisman runner-up and No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck garnered the lion's share of credit for Stanford's 23-3 record and consecutive BCS bowl berths over the past two seasons, the offense implemented by former coach Jim Harbaugh and his successor, David Shaw, is a physical, run-first attack. The Cardinal ran the ball on 55 percent of its offensive snaps lastseason, and with a loaded backfield this fall, that number could rise.
Can Stanford sustain the level of success they showed during the Andrew Luck era, where they made three straight bowls and two BCS games? It's going to be tough, but there will definitely be a huge difficulty curve for David Shaw and his coaching staff to try and deal with this season.
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