Stanford Preview

Head coach Jim Harbaugh's resurrection of the Stanford program isn't anywhere near completion but the Cardinal have got to feel good about the direction they seem to be headed after their season-opening win. Stanford, who will hit the road seven times this season, overcame a late Oregon State rally last Thursday to hold on for a 36-28 home victory.

ASU prevailed 41-3 in last year's contest but expect to see a much different Stanford team, one that's found a mojo, this weekend in Tempe.

2008 Record: 1-0 (1-0 Pac-10)
Head Coach: Jim Harbaugh

OFFENSE

*Projected Starters

WR Richard Sherman, JR
LT Ben Muth, SR
LG Chase Beeler, JR
C Alex Fletcher, SR
RG Andrew Phillips, JR
RT Chris Marinelli, SR
TE Austin Gunder, SR
QB Tavita Pritchard, SR
RB Toby Gerhart, JR
FB Owen Marecic, SO
WR Doug Baldwin, SO
Highlighting last week's win over the Beavers was an impressive 147-yard rushing performance by Toby Gerhart. The junior running back has registered 292 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games played. Gerhart, whose younger brother Garth plays center for the Sun Devils, was on his way toward a promising season in 2007 before a knee injury sidelined him for the year. Joining him in the backfield will be Anthony Kimble, a fifth-year senior. Kimble has led the team in rushing in each of the last two seasons and gives the Cardinal an experienced option to pair with Gerhart's strong running style. Kimble gained 49 yards and one touchdown last week against Oregon State.

The battle at quarterback was among the hottest topics in Palo Alto during spring drills and on into fall camp. Tavita Pritchard was eventually given the starting nod prior to the season-opener but reserve Alex Loukas was not officially ruled out of the picture just yet. Loukas, a junior, saw a handful of snaps in hopes that his athleticism would provide a spark. Pritchard is slated to start again after throwing for 91 yards and one touchdown on 10 of 17 passing attempts in last week's win. Despite those modest numbers, Pritchard is 3-5 as Stanford's starter, including the Cardinal's upset of USC in the Coliseum last fall.

Entering his third year on The Farm, Richard Sherman returns as the leader of a young receiving corps. Sherman has led the team in receiving yards over the last two seasons and has a career total of 1,246 yards. Sophomore Doug Baldwin is slated to start alongside Sherman after making his first career start last week. Former walk-on Ryan Whalen paced all receivers in the season-opener with three catches for 30 yards. Tight ends Austin Gunder and Coby Fleener round out Pritchard's main receiving targets.

DEFENSE

*Projected Starters

DE Pannel Egboh, SR
DT Brian Bulcke, JR
NT Ekom Udofia, SR
DE Erik Lorig, SR
SAM Clinton Snyder, SR
MIKE Chike Amajoyi, SO
WILL Pat Maynor, SR
FS Taylor Skaufel, SO
SS Bo McNally, SR
CB Wopamo Osaisai, SR
CB Kris Evans, SR

Up front, Stanford has a pair of solid defensive ends in seniors Pannel Egboh and Erik Lorig. Egboh has collected 21.5 tackles for a loss in his career and is looking to become one of the conference's top pass rushers after notching six sacks as a junior. Lorig collected four tackles against the Beavers and is generally solid defending the run. Former Valley prep star Ekom Udofia will make his 20th start at nose tackle this Saturday alongside junior Brian Bulcke. Udofia is a standout in run defense as well.

Outside linebackers Clinton Snyder and Pat Maynor are among those on the Butkus Award watch list, an annual award presented to the country's top linebacker. Snyder has notched 181 tackles and 10 sacks in his career on The Farm. Maynor finished with seven tackles and one sack last week against the Beavers. The two linebackers have a total of 44 career starts between them. Chike Amajoyi was originally recruited as a running back but has made a nice transition to middle linebacker. Amajoyi had a very successful freshman campaign last fall with 47 tackles and four sacks, which culminated in a Pac-10 All-Freshman Team selection by The Sporting News.

A pair of senior playmakers anchor the defensive secondary for the Cardinal. Bo McNally returns after leading the Pac-10 in tackles last season with 114 stops. The strong safety has a nose for the ball and will likely have his name called quite a bit this Saturday. Cornerback Wopamo Osaisai, the Pac-10's reigning 100m champion, led the team in tackles last week with 11. Consequently, the senior was named as the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts. McNally is paired with sophomore Taylor Skaufel while Kris Evans will line up at the corner spot opposite Osasai. Skaufel sealed the Cardinal win over Oregon State last week with his hit on receiver Darrell Catchings, which forced a fumble on the Stanford 1-yard line. Evans, a senior, collected his first career interception against the Beavers as well.

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK Aaron Zagory, SR
P David Green, SO

KR Corey Gatewood, SO
PR Doug Baldwin, SO

Fifth-year senior Aaron Zagory is Stanford's newest scholarship player after Harbaugh awarded the former walk-on a full ride during fall camp. The placekicker hit two of his three attempts in the season opener, including a career-best 42-yard field goal. Zagory's name may be somewhat familiar as he handled the placekicking duties in 2006 before losing the job to Derek Belch last season. Punter David Green made his debut against Oregon State by averaging 45 yards on five punts, which was an impressive start to his Cardinal career.

The return game posted modest numbers in the season-opener. Corey Gatewood averaged 18 yards on six kickoff returns while Doug Baldwin fielded one punt for a 2-yard return.

KEYS TO VICTORY FOR ARIZONA STATE

--Stop the Run: Stanford will rely on the ground game quite a bit if last week's numbers are any indication of things to come. The Cardinal had just 17 pass attempts compared to 48 rushing attempts in their win over Oregon State. Limit the run and force Stanford out of their comfort zone.

--Heavy Dose of Rudy: Against a suspect Stanford secondary Rudy Carpenter will have a shot at a big day as long his protection holds up against the Cardinal's formidable front seven. The retooled offensive line gave up just one sack to NAU, which was a nice start, but they will have their hands full on Saturday.

--Start Strong: The sooner you can take the wind out of the Cardinal's proverbial sails the better. Stanford is an opportunistic squad and can take advantage of opponents' miscues so set the tone early on.

KEYS TO VICTORY FOR STANFORD

--Win the Turnover Battle: Stanford was +3 in the turnover column in last week's win over Oregon State. The team was +3 overall last season, which was a huge boost from the previous year's mark of -11. Turnovers have played a huge role in turning the program around.

--Run the Ball Effectively: With consistency an issue at quarterback, the Cardinal are likely to go to the ground game early and often. An effective run game keeps the Arizona State offense off the field longer and, perhaps more importantly, keeps the pressure off the quarterback and his young receivers.

--Create Big Plays: There's no better way for an underdog on the road to pull the upset than getting the home team and fans to start doubting things. Whether it's from the defense or special teams, when the Cardinal can create big plays, their chances of winning increase exponentially.

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