2006 Record: (1-11, 1-8)
Coach: Jim Harbaugh (1st year at Stanford, 29-6 overall)
Starters Returning: 17 (7 offense, 8 defense, 2 specialists)
Starting Specialists Lost: None
For starters: Stanford finished a dismal 1-11 last year. That includes losses to San Jose State and Navy. That’s bad, even for Stanford. And so the Cardinal went out and found themselves a new coach in former quarterback great Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh, who won the Division I-AA Mid-Major national titles the last two years at the University of San Diego, will bring some much needed intensity to the sidelines, but that will not be enough to keep the Cardinal out of the basement of the Pac-10 standings quite yet.
Offense: Trent Edwards is gone, but T.C. Ostrander is a proven quarterback. The fifth year senior has seen plenty of playing time while Edwards was on the sidelines over the last few years, and he is ready to have the team to himself. The 6-3, 215 pounder has some things to work on, most notably his 45.6 percent completion percentage, but the drop off behind Edwards is not as bad as it would appear.
Making Ostrander’s job easier will be wide receivers Evan Moore, Mark Bradford and Richard Sherman. Moore and Bradford, both seniors, have struggled with injuries and as long as they can stay healthy the Stanford passing attack will be a whole lot better than last year. Sherman was forced into action as a freshman when Moore and Bradford went down and ended up leading the team with 34 receptions.
The line has been horrible the last few years and Ostrander may not have time to find his talented receivers. Allen Smith and Alex Fletcher are returning starters and there is some experience with Mikal Brewer and Tim Mattran, but the unit needs to improve drastically if the Stanford offense wants to move with any consistency. Just as important for the line as protecting the quarterback is making holes for the running game. Anthony Kimble and Toby Gerhart are decent rushers but will need help from the line.
Defense: Returning eight starters is nice, but who really cares when the team gave up over 31 points per game and 210 yards on the ground. Coach Harbaugh will change from a 3-4 to a more traditional 4-3 defense. The front line returns the brother duo of Udeme and Ekom Udofia. Ekom, a sophomore tackle, has the potential to be a really special player and that could be enough to help solidify the entire defense.
The linebackers are a major concern after losing all-conference player Michael Okwo. Clinton Snyder is the most talented returning linebacker and Pat Maynor and Will Powers have starting experience, but the Cardinal really need to find a playmaker in the unit.
The secondary is a mixed bag. The cornerbacks have a ton of experience with Nick Sanchez, Wopamo Osaisai and Tim Sims battling for the two starting spots. There is definitely room for improvement from the trio, but at least they have been there before. However, the departed Brandon Harrison, Trevor Hooper and David Lofton took most of the snaps at safety last year. Bo McNally is the only player with significant playing time and the sophomore will suddenly be thrust into a starting role at strong safety. Carlos McFall and converted wide receiver Austin Yancy will both see time at free safety.
The Bottom Line: Not losing to San Jose State would be a good place to start. Stanford has some playmakers, but they need to stay healthy. This is a team that can win a few games, but with a few more bad breaks, it could be just as bad as last year. Developing for the future is the most important thing and winning a few games would really help out on the recruiting front.
QB T.C. Ostrander will try and get Stanford more then one win in 2007.