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STANFORD BEGINS the post-Andrew Luck era by conceding it can't replace Andrew Luck. "That quarterback position, we don't expect it to get played at the same level," says coach David Shaw. While either sophomore Brett Nottingham or junior Josh Nunes (a combined 10 career pass attempts) will take over at QB, the good news is that Stanford ran the ball 55% of the time last season. That shouldn't change with a deep group of tailbacks led by 5'11" senior Stepfan Taylor, who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons—he's only the third Cardinal back to do that—and he was named to the Doak Walker watch list. "We're going to run power," says Taylor. "That's what we hang our hat on."
ANDRUS PEAT Stanford signed five offensive linemen listed as four- or five-star recruits by Rivals.com. The 6'7", 308-pound Peat is the most physically developed and could compete with classmate Kyle Murphy for the starting tackle spot vacated by Jonathan Martin.
WAYNE LYONS The 6'1", 187-pound sophomore CB suffered a foot injury in the opener that kept him out most of the season. He excelled in the spring, prompting Shaw to say Lyons will soon contend for the Thorpe award, given to the nation's top defensive back.
STANFORD WILL take a step back after losing not only Luck but also standout offensive linemen Martin and David DeCastro, but don't expect the team to plummet out of the rankings. The roster is plenty talented, bolstered by a top five recruiting class. The offense will still be efficient, and linebackers Chase Thomas and Shayne Skov will produce a formidable pass rush. An early test comes on Sept. 15 with a visit from USC. The Trojans' elite receivers could cause problems for the Cardinal's secondary, which has only one returning starter.