Radio Preview: WR and TE
If Stanford's level of offensive and defensive play remains constant from the wildly successful 2012 stretch run, the Cardinal can expect a solid 2013 season. It's easy to envision the defense maintaining similar effectiveness to last season; after all, nine of 11 Rose Bowl starters return on that side of the ball. The offensive variable, however, is a much bigger wild card, particularly when it comes to the aerial attack: 88 percent of Stanford's pass-catching production has graduated. Not a single receiving touchdown returns from last year. The tight ends on the Cardinal's 2013 roster do not own a single career catch.
There is talent; it's just unproven on this point. Ty Montgomery, Devon Cajuste, Michael Rector, Kodi Whitfield, Kelsey Young, Jordan Pratt, and Conner Crane are amongst the names looking to emerge on the outside, while Luke Kaumatule and Davis Dudchock will be two of the tight ends charged with picking up the slack left by the departures of Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo. A recent Bootleg article emphasized the Cardinal's need to rediscover explosiveness in its downfield attack. The following table and accompanying podcast illustrate the challenges that face David Shaw's club when it comes to doing just that.
Stanford Passing Offense: Explosiveness Through the Years
||% Pass Attempts > 15 Yards
||% Pass Attempts > 25 Yards
Interestingly, judging from the percentage of passing plays gaining over 15 yards, the 2009 Stanford offense was the most explosive in the Harbaugh-Shaw era (though fewer receiving scores indicate that the unit turned to Toby Gerhart to punch it into the end zone). The Cardinal's pure passing explosiveness has declined in every season since Andrew Luck's freshman campaign. One theory: the Farm Boys were forced to be most aggressive that year, when their defense was significantly worse than in the subsequent seasons.
The 2012 season saw explosiveness dip dangerously near pre-Luck levels, part of a trend the 2013 club will try to reverse.
Don't miss Part 1 of our extensive Stanford podcast preview, which focuses on the Cardinal's quarterbacks and offensive linemen.
David Lombardi is the Stanford Insider for The Bootleg. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com and follow him on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.
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