2022 Stanford Cardinal Preview

by Matt Fargo

Stanford Cardinal

2021-22 Season Record 3-9 (2-7 Pac 12 North) - 3-9-0 ATS - 6-6-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 10
Defense - 7

Overview

Jim Harbaugh turned around a program stuck in neutral as he came onto the scene in 2007 and after enduring a pair of losing seasons, Stanford became elite as he closed with a 20-6 record in his final two seasons that included an Orange Bowl win in 2010 and a final ranking of No. 4 in the country. Current head coach David Shaw took over a great situation and to his credit, he did not just ride the coattails of Harbaugh as he sustained the success for eight straight seasons that included five double-digit winning campaigns, three additional top ten finishes and a pair of Rose Bowl victories. The production fell of in 2019 as the Cardinal had just nine starters back and they have not recovered with an 11-19 record over the last three seasons and the seat might be getting a little warm for Shaw. He brings back the third most experienced team in the country and he will need it.

Offense

Offensively, Stanford started strong but completely imploded late, averaging a mere 11.8 ppg over its last five games and on the season, finished No. 121 in total offense and No. 114 in scoring offense. The once potent running game has been nonexistent during this recent skid culminated last season as the Cardinal averaged just 87.3 ypg on 3.2 ypc, No. 126 in the nation. It does not look encouraging to improve this year as Nathaniel Peat and Austin Jones, who combined for 782 yards on 4.2 ypc last season, both transferred out so somebody will have to step up behind an offensive line that was terrible last season but now has a ton of experience. One bright spot of the offense early on was quarterback Tanner McKie who threw for 2,327 yards with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions and he should be better behind that improved line and all of his top targets returning.

Defense

The defense has taken a big step backwards over the last few years as they have regressed every season since 2018. Last season, Stanford finished No. 114 in total defense and No. 106 in scoring defense as this side of the ball also imploded down the stretch. While the offense was unable to run the ball, the defense was unable to stop opposing offenses from gashing them on the ground as Stanford allowed 237.6 ypg on 5.9 ypc. Seven starters are back and there is experience all over the field so there is no reason there should not be a significant improvement. The linebackers are the strength, led by Levani Damuni and Ricky Miezan who combined for 154 tackles and of course a lot of those were on running backs getting through the defensive line that needs to shore up and provide a push. The secondary was not tested much because it did not have to be and is an experienced group.

2022 Season Outlook

Statistically, Stanford was one of the worst power five teams in the country last season as it completely folded down the stretch with seven straight losses following an encouraging 3-2 start that included wins over USC and Oregon. What happened after that is anyone's guess and that type of finish is the last thing a team wants heading into a make or break season. Also unwanted is a schedule that is brutal. Stanford opens the season with a home game against Colgate and then faces revenge-minded USC the following week to open conference play. That is one of only four Pac 12 home games with the other three coming against Oregon St., Arizona St. and Washington St., all winnable but that means the road portion is tough at Oregon, UCLA and Utah. Add in Notre Dame and BYU and it is not ideal. The O/U win total is set at 4.5 and this one looks to be a clear pass. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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