A Stanford Football Fan's Assessment and Hopes for the New Season

A Little Background

As it says in my bio, I am a Stanford graduate. Originally from Southern California, my family moved up north so my father could take a position at Stanford, which is when I started watching their football games on TV. My older sister also graduated from Stanford, and I can trace my love of Stanford sports back to her. She was a Stanford Dollie her senior year, so my family and I found ourselves at a lot of games to watch her perform.

Since my history with Stanford does not extend back very far, let me give you an idea of my experiences with Stanford football. Here are the coaching tenures I have witnessed:

Coach
Years at Stanford
Overall Record
Bowl Appearances
Lasting Impressions
Tyrone Willingham
1995-2001
44-36-1
4
Won Sun Bowl 1996
Buddy Teevens
2002-2004
10-23
0
No wins against teams with overall winning records
Walt Harris
2005-2006
6-17
0
Second season record (1-11) worst in school history wince 1960
Jim Harbaugh
2007-2010
29-21
2
Stunning upset of USC in first season, won Orange Bowl 2010

To summarize, I caught the tail end of an otherwise successful Willingham tenure, which was immediately followed by a Dark Ages in Stanford football under Teevens and Harris. Luckily, the hiring of Harbaugh just before my graduation restored my faith in my team and improved our recruiting opportunities, setting up Stanford football for good years to come.

Now, let us move on to what I expect for the team in the upcoming year. First, however, we must examine where last season left us.

The 2010 Football Season

There were some questions as to how Stanford would cope with the loss of Heisman candidate running back Toby Gerhart when he decided to finish his degree and enter the draft despite having one remaining year of eligibility (Gerhart was drafted in the second round by the Minnesota Vikings).

The gap left by Toby Gerhart was credibly filled by multiple running backs: Stepfan Taylor, Anthony Wilkerson, Jeremy Stewart, and Tyler Gaffney. And it cannot be forgotten that returning quarterback Andrew Luck is one of the top rushers on the team. There are many impressive plays from this season that I could highlight, most of them starring Andrew Luck, but I have chosen two in particular. The first? Andrew Luck's tackle during the USC game, which kept a Stanford fumble from becoming a big problem for the team. Yes, the Stanford QB can do it all. The second featured play is a double header: Owen Marecic's offensive and defensive touchdowns against Notre Dame on two consecutive plays.

The 2010 season culminated in an 11-1 record with the only loss coming to conference rival Oregon, who went undefeated in the regular season and faced Auburn in the BCS Championship game. Stanford's record earned them a trip to the 2011 Orange Bowl to face Virginia Tech. Though Stanford was favored over the #13 Hokies, few expected the eventual blowout of 40-12 in Stanford's favor.

While Stanford's performance in the Orange Bowl gained some media attention, the biggest story revolved around the futures of Andrew Luck and coach Jim Harbaugh. Many expected that if one were to stay or go the other would follow. Eventually, Luck decided to remain at the Farm and finish his degree while Harbaugh became the new coach for the troubled San Francisco 49ers.

NOTABLE GRADUATED PLAYERS

Name of Player
Position Played
Notable Achievements 2010
Drafted To
Nate Whitaker
Kicker
17 of 19 field goals
 
Owen Marecic
Fullback/Linebacker
only two-way starter in the nation, 51 tackles
Seattle Seahawks
Richard Sherman
Cornerback
4 interceptions and 1 fumble return, 50 tackles
Cleveland Browns
Ryan Whalen
Wide Receiver
439 receiving yards on 41 carries
Cincinatti Bengals
Doug Baldwin
Wide Receiver
857 receiving yards on 58 carries, 9 TDs
 

In Anticipation of the 2011 Season

Despite the departure of coach Jim Harbaugh and the graduation of many star players, Stanford stands a good chance of repeating their record breaking 2010 season. Many of the running backs that were key to Stanford's success remain on The Farm, and with Luck playing out his last season, the Cardinal retained many key factors to their winning streak (see notable returning players below). Although Coach Harbaugh has graduated to the NFL, the elevation of Stanford alumnus and offensive coordinator David Shaw to the head coach position guarantees some continuity in coaching styles. After all, Shaw worked with Harbaugh in San Diego and followed him to Stanford when Harbaugh was offered the job. I expect that Shaw will continue with Harbaugh's successful "blue collar" approach to the game, and given that the players are already familiar with him, there should be little trouble adjusting to the new coach.

NOTABLE RETURNING PLAYERS

Player Name
Position
Notable Achievements 2010
Andrew Luck
Quarterback
263 passes for 3338 and 32 TDs, #2 in rushing yds
Stepfan Taylor
Running Back
#1 in rushing yds, 16 TDs
Chris Owusu
Wide Receiver
462 yds on kick returns, longest 88 yds
Coby Fleener
Tight End
#3 in receiving yds, 7 TDs
Tyler Gaffney
Running Back
#4 in rushing yards, 6 TDs
Usua Amanam
Cornerback
321 yds on kick returns, longest 60 yd
Delano Howell
Safety
5 interceptions, 60 tackles
Shayne Skov
Linebacker
#1 in tackles with 84

I'm Dreaming of Stanford Domination

Given the success of their 2010 season, there is little Stanford can do to improve. A perfect regular season followed by a trip to the BCS Championship would be a start.

While the BCS Championship game would be a crowning achievement, however, I am selfish enough to hope that instead the Cardinal takes another trip to the Rose Bowl. As a little girl born in Southern California, I dreamed of the day when I was old enough to ride the Cal Poly Pomona rose float down to Pasadena (as my father worked at Cal Poly, my sister had been able to do just that). I never got my dream, but I was able to go to the Rose Parade one year. I would love an excuse to return (such a short flight!) and experience the bowl game as well this time.

And given the extraordinary performance of Andrew Luck, a repeat this year should finally win him the Heisman Trophy. That followed by a #1 draft pick, fortuitously to the 49ers, would be the perfect culmination of a fantastic college career. A girl can dream, right?

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Comments 7 comments

Josh 5 years ago

Some additional key points: Luck was the Heisman Trophy runner-up last year, and is the front runner for the award this year. My main concern is how our defense will play this year. Last year we were an entirely different team after the loss to Oregon, and that's because our defense kicked it up to another level. If Harbaugh was still coaching, I'd be expecting to celebrate a championship in New Orleans. However, even though he is gone, we do have Luck, so I am expecting a Rose Bowl win.

P.S. Rose Bowl on January 2nd? WEIRD!


Megan Kathleen profile image

Megan Kathleen 5 years ago from Los Gatos, CA Author

Yes, I forgot to put that he is already considered a front runner for the Heisman. And I know you cannot take the quiz on an iPad, but I do have a question about runner-ups for the Heisman which is why I specifically did not mention that. But Cam Newton, really? Anyway, defense would be the only area I'm concerned about. Even though Richard Sherman did not have the best of years in 2010, he was always a defensive leader of the team. We do have Shayne Skov (how many times did we hear his name last season?) and Delano Howell returning, but James McGillicuddy graduated as well. We have retained much of our offensive line, but the defense is the question. But weren't we in the situation last year?

Oh, and, thanks for the comment ;D


Josh 5 years ago

1. You should email me the quiz.

2. Cam Newton is so overrated just because he played in the SEC.

3. We also lost HarBaugh and Fangio. But I still believe we can win the PAC-10 with Luck.


Megan Kathleen profile image

Megan Kathleen 5 years ago from Los Gatos, CA Author

Pac-12, sir. Pac-12. But agreed on all points.


Josh 5 years ago

It will always be PAC-10 to me. Just like Chase Field will always be BOB, and the Sears Tower will always be the Sears Tower, etc. I intentionally accept and approve of my ignorance in this area.


kathy 4 years ago

Those of you who have or are going to crucify the Stanford kicker for missing field goals should put yourselves in that kids place at that time, see if you could have done any better.

I am OU fan but also cheer OSU when they are not playing each other....The OSU/Stanford game was an awesome game to watch and no one should be hanging their heads...How dare any of you not playing in the game have anything to say about that incident. That poor kid needed his team and fans to stand behind him...after all he is only human also!!!!

By the way, I am a 60 year old grandmother from OK...love my state and my football..just sayin! Stanford thanks for playing a great game!!


Megan Kathleen profile image

Megan Kathleen 4 years ago from Los Gatos, CA Author

Thanks for the comment, Kathy! Congratulations on your state's win. It was a very exciting game. I was there, and I was quite heartbroken at the end, but I do not blame our kicker. I put more blame on David Shaw for putting him under undue pressure. Either way, it was a great game to go to. Looking back, most of my hopes were unrealized, but I am still looking forward to the draft. No matter what happens, it was still a great Stanford season. I *heart* Stanford!

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