SI.com 2003 College Football Preview




SI.com's College Football Team Previews - from Athlon Sports

  Stanford Cardinal

 
The Lowdown
Coach: Buddy Teevens (2nd year, 2-9)
2002 record: 2-9 (none)
Pac-10 finish: T-9th
2002 offensive stats:
Rush: 133.2 ypg
(4th in Pac-10, 76th in nation)
Pass: 178.2 ypg (10th, 88th)
2002 defensive stats:
Rush: 132.7 ypg (9th, 39th)
Pass: 252.0 ypg (6th, 101st)
Projected Starters
Offense (1 returning starters in bold)
FL  Luke Powell  Sr. 
WR  86  Gerren Crotchet  So. 
LT   67   Kirk Chambers   Sr.  
LG  68  Ismail Simpson  Fr. 
71  Brian Head  So. 
RG  70  Jeff Edwards  Fr. 
RT  63  Mike Sullivan  Sr. 
TE  88  Brett Pierce  Sr. 
QB  10  Chris Lewis  Sr. 
HB  26  Kenneth Tolon  Jr. 
FB  41  Cooper Blackhurst  Sr. 
Defense (6)
DE   90   Louis Hobson   Sr.  
DT   92   Casey Carroll   So.  
NT  96  Babatunde Oshinowo  So. 
DE  18  Amon Gordon  Jr. 
OLB  42  Michael Craven  So. 
MLB   48   David Bergeron   Jr.  
OLB  17  Jared Newberry  Jr. 
CB   2   Stanley Wilson   Jr.  
CB   29   Leigh Torrence   Jr.  
SS   21   Oshiomogho Otagwe   Jr.  
FS  46  Timi Wusu  So. 
Special Teams
15  Michael Sgroi  So. 
39  Eric Johnson  Sr. 
KR  82  Grant Mason  So. 
PR  Luke Powell  Sr. 
2003 Schedule
Sept. 13  San Jose State 
Sept. 20  at BYU 
Sept. 27  at Washington 
Oct. 11  at USC 
Oct. 18  Washington State 
Oct. 25  at Oregon 
Nov. 1  UCLA 
Nov. 8  Arizona State 
Nov. 15  at Oregon State 
Nov. 22  California 
Nov. 29  Notre Dame 
Before one of his team's spring practice sessions, Stanford head coach Buddy Teevens rattled off an analysis of his team -- all 22 positions and special teams -- in record time, probably five minutes tops. It's obvious that this guy is in a hurry.

The high-energy Teevens suffered through a tough transition period a year ago as the Cardinal fell to 2-9 overall and 1-7 in the Pac-10. Stanford fans had grown accustomed to high-quality football under Tyrone Willingham, so there is no doubt that Teevens wants to get his team back to bowl status as quickly as possible. "The transition was difficult in many regards," Teevens said. "But our mindset is healthy now. There is a lot of enthusiasm and excitement."

Unfortunately, Year Two of the Teevens regime might yield a lot of improvement without the record reflecting it. After its opener at home against an improved San Jose State team, Stanford will depart on road trips three consecutive weeks for games at BYU, Washington and USC. The schedule might prove to be a killer for a young team trying to find its way.

The hope on The Farm is based on six returning starters on defense, along with a host of key defensive reserves who should mature into impact players. The defense will have to be good, because it might take time for the Cardinal to put together an effective offense after graduating eight starters from a year ago.

OFFENSIVE KEYS:

Stanford has serious issues to solve at quarterback, running back and wide receiver, but Teevens' main question involves blocking. Who's going to do it?

The Cardinal is hurting on the offense line with only one experienced returnee in three-year starter Kirk Chambers, the left tackle. Kwame Harris' early departure for the NFL complicated an already dire situation, and now Teevens will have to rely on a host of unproven players, including seven redshirt freshmen.

Senior quarterback Chris Lewis, who started only five games a year ago before being sidelined with rotator cuff damage that eventually required surgery, will have to win back his job from sophomore Kyle Matter, who started six games last year. Both struggled in 2002.

Senior receiver Luke Powell is coming off a campaign in which he was severely limited by a badly sprained ankle, so he needs a return to form. At tailback, either Kenneth Tolon, who rushed for 346 yards and four touchdowns in a reserve role, or J.R. Lemon must prove to be ready to carry the load for Stanford's rebuilt offense.

DEFENSIVE KEYS:

On the defensive line, Teevens is hoping the tremendous raw talent of players like junior Amon Gordon and sophomores Julian Jenkins and Babatunde Oshinowo will translate into production.

The top six linebackers from the 2002 squad return. The unit is so strong that David Bergeron, who started at one of the outside positions last season, will move inside to split time with Jake Covault. That will open the way for talented sophomore Michael Craven to take over full-time at one of the outside linebacker slots.

Cornerbacks Stanley Wilson and Leigh Torrence are returning starters, but Teevens will take a look at Grant Mason, a wide receiver who got some looks on defense in the spring, and sophomores Calvin Armstrong and T.J. Rushing. Stanford must find a way to shore up a secondary that gave up 252 yards passing per game last season. One player who should be solid is junior free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, who led the team with 71 tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Both kickers return from 2002, but both need to show improvement. Punter Eric Johnson averaged 39.8 yards on 58 punts in 2002, and Teevens would like to see more consistency from him. Place-kicker Michael Sgroi hit 9-of-15 field goals and had three misses inside 40 yards. A healthy Powell should return to his sophomore form, when he averaged 16 yards per punt return.

FINAL ANALYSIS:

Although Teevens built his reputation on his offensive savvy, Stanford's hopes probably will rest on its defense. Skeptics will wonder how much improvement can be expected of players who allowed 34.3 points per game, but Stanford has its share of physically gifted athletes who might come into their own after a year's worth of seasoning.

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