Stanford’s offense has struggled this season and it caused David Shaw to make a quarterback change from Ryan Burns to Keller Chryst
"It would be really easy if it was just the quarterback," said Shaw. "That's why you feel really bad for Ryan. You won't find a more improved player over the last calendar year.”
Shaw did not have much of a choice, as the offense has managed only four touchdowns in the past five games.
In addition, Stanford ranks 104th nationally in rushing, 117th in passing, and 126th out of 128 FBS teams in scoring, averaging 17.0 points per game.
The 6-foot-5, 236-pound Chryst has only thrown 27 passes in his career, completing 12 of them for 122 yards and one touchdown to one interception.
He’s a huge body that can pose problems if Stanford chooses to run him like it has in the past, but we still would not consider him a run threat and he’s actually not very mobile in the pocket.
Of course, the biggest threat on offense is Christian McCaffrey. He’s a national name by now, but he has struggled with injury this season and his numbers don’t indicate how good he truly is.
He has run the ball 100 times for 623 yards and three touchdowns, averaging nearly 102 yards per game.
Not only is he dangerous as a true running back, but McCaffrey has 20 catches for 180 yards and a touchdown.
Stanford will do everything it can to get McCaffrey out in the open field and create mismatch issues with a linebacker.
Sophomore Trent Irwin is Stanford’s leading receiver with 26 catches for 322 yards and believes the quarterback change could benefit the offense.
"We've been in a little bit of funk," Irwin said. "Every week I've been thinking we'll break out. It takes trust. You have to trust in the plays and trust in each other. It will break out.”
Michael Rector is another wide receiver to watch out for and has 21 catches for 257 yards and a score.
The numbers for Stanford’s receivers are a bit misleading because they are talented, but the offense has struggled so much that the numbers truly don’t reflect the overall effectiveness.
Even Stanford’s offensive line hasn’t been as good as it was in the past. The Cardinal has allowed 21 sacks this season and there have been some injury issues.
Right guard Johnny Caspers and right tackle David Bright are questionable to play and although there is plenty of talent on the line, having two backups on the same side of the line can’t be a good thing.
Players to Watch
#20, RB Bryce Love: As much attention as McCaffrey gets, Love is no slouch either. He has run for nearly 5.6 yards per carry and will get plenty of opportunity this weekend.
#9, TE Dalton Schultz: It wouldn’t be Stanford without a capable tight end. Schultz has 11 catches for 96 yards, but is a big body that needs to be accounted for.
Keys to the Game
1. Contain the run: Arizona has no chance if McCaffrey and Love are running wild. Stopping the run game will be impossible, but containing it is vital.
2. Attack Chryst: He’s a big target in the pocket and Arizona needs to get to him. Stanford may choose to go ultra conservative in his first start, so Arizona needs to make him think.
3. Tackle better: Simple, but effective. Arizona’s tackling as of late has been awful and if it doesn’t wrap up on the first try, the defense will be in for a long day.null