David Yankey told us to expect a "dominant offensive performance" at Stanford's 3 p.m. spring game Saturday. That would, of course, mark a drastic turnaround from last year's contest at Kezar Stadium, a coming-out party of sorts for the Cardinal's dominant defensive front seven. Stanford's offensive struggles in that one were a foreshadowing of how the attack would start the 2012 season. Our 38-minute spring game podcast preview addresses five keys to watch for:
Senior Anthony Wilkerson has looked better than ever during the past month, but Stanford boasts a loaded stable of other bulls to complement him, including Tyler Gaffney and Barry Sanders. How will this group react to an atmosphere that more closely resembles an actual game than pure practice?
A stunning 82.5 percent of Stanford's 2012 receiving production has graduated. It's been tough to decipher the precise mix-and-match the Cardinal will employ between the likes of Ty Montgomery, Devon Cajuste, Kodi Whitfield, Michael Rector, and Kelsey Young, but Saturday should provide more clues.
Match-up of the Day: Andrus Peat vs. Trent Murphy
One's still a freshman; one's going to be a fifth year senior. Murphy's torment is perhaps the primary reason that Peat has developed so quickly at the left tackle position, and now the youngster has a chance to showcase the improvement he's made over the past eight months.
Defensive Line Depth
Stanford must be able to rotate fresh troops into the game at the line of scrimmage, and Josh Mauro is the only proven one of the reinforcement bunch so far (he's essentially a starter). Ikenna Nwafor, Aziz Shittu, and Anthony Hayes have all made moves this spring. Keep an eye on them, and don't forget Jordan Watkins, Nate Lohn, and Lance Callihan.
In the four 2012 games Stanford played against teams that qualified for the final Top 25, the Cardinal gave up only one play of over 30 yards -- and it was a run (see Marcus Mariota, Devon Carrington). But Stanford's cornerbacks have been burnt deep a few times in open practices. The passing game is clearly improving, but the secondary must keep pace. Barry Browning is out, but keep close tabs on that second corner spot: Wayne Lyons, Usua Amanam, and Ronnie Harris all have something to prove.
David Lombardi is the Stanford Insider for The Bootleg and FOX Sports Next. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com.
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