(Pac-12) The Cardinal play on a grass field at Stanford Stadium (seats 50,000)
- New Head Coach David Shaw enters his first season as head coach at Stanford. He is a Stanford alumnus and served as their Offensive coordinator for the past four seasons. That consistency may be very critical in helping the offense this season.
- New Offensive Line. Last year 4 of 5 starters returned and the offensive line as a whole combined for 126 career starts. Three of them were 5th-year seniors. That talent and experience is irreplaceable and makes a huge impact on how the offense performs. They allowed the 2nd fewest sacks in the nation in 2010 (and 2009) and played a huge role in the fact that Stanford had the 3rd most efficient passing game. This year just two starters return.
- New Receivers. In addition, Stanford’s offenses loses its three leading receivers from 2010. Tight End Zach Ertz looked good in the spring game catching 100% of the passes thrown his way and scoring three touchdowns.
- They still have Luck on their side. Andrew Luck would have been
the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft had he chosen to leave school early. Instead he returns for his senior season and will really show scouts his worth without Jim Harbaugh as head coach or an extremely seasoned offensive line.
- Power Running Game was the basis for this offense—will it still be with the new regime? Last year they had to replace Toby Gerhart and they still had similarly impressive rushing numbers in 2010 as they did in 2009. Again—another aspect of the game that is attributed to the offensive line (at least in part). “Our philosophy is that it takes all 11 to run the football effectively and that includes the quarterback. Our wide receivers do a great job blocking, our tight end, our offensive line, our backs. It takes all 11.” (That was a quote from Greg Roman who left to become the Offensive Coordinator at San Fran under Harbaugh, along with Offensive Line coach Tim Drevno)
- Defense Woes—Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio also went to San Francisco with Harbaugh. On top of that Stanford loses six starters on defense. And it isn’t just that the Stanford defense loses six starters, it’s that they were very arguably the best most experienced six they had. The secondary is the most experienced but they won’t have the help of their linebackers in 2011.