….And we have a depth chart, Ladies and Germs!
Stanford released its two-deep for the Kansas State game this Friday night, and rejoice! Joy cometh at the end of this week. After all the coy dodges, in-between line readings, and speculation, we know the starting 22 for Stanford, and we know the next men up should the need arise.
The offensive line is set. Casey Tucker will man the all-important Left Tackle spot, protecting new starter Ryan Burns’ blind side. David Bright will start the season at Left Guard, with Jesse Burkett the long-ago announced starter at Center. On the right side, Captain Johnny Caspers has Right Guard. A.T. Hall jumped up and took the Right Tackle job, effectively beating out Brandon Fanaika who was hoping to start inside.
How did that happen? Had Fanaika warranted it, Bright would have played one of the tackle spots. Such is the benefit of having a versatile player like “Salty Dave.” When Hall’s play earned him a spot, Fanaika was the odd man out because Tucker was a lock at one of the tackles and Bright was always going to be a starter. The search now begins for who won the “Ogre” jobs. Expect Fanaika to be a front-runner there.
Wide Receiver, Running Back, and Tight End hold no surprises. Going from last group to first, Schultz and Taboada are your top two, and pending his recovery from injury, Kaden Smith will give Shaw-Vita-Gren some Tree Amigos options. Running Back, DUH. The true intrigue is whether or not McCaffrey seizes the Remound Wright short yardage duties or if that ends up being Cameron Scarlett’s niche this season? Rector, Irwin, and Owusu are your top three receivers. Expect big things from Irwin this season.
Stanford finally has a legit two deep on the defensive line. Solomon Thomas and Harrison Phillips are two thirds of the starters, and Dylan Jackson, whose stock is on the rise, joins them as the anchors of the Cardinal’s 3-4 base defense. Eric Cotton, Jordan Watkins, and Luke Kaumatule round out the two-deep up front.
Bobby Okereke and Kevin Palma get the start at Inside Linebacker, after a hotly contested battle royal all offseason. Peter Kalambayi and Joey Alfieri start on the edges for the Cardinal. Sean Barton and Casey Toohill are second stringers who I expect to make big plays this season. Stay tuned.
Alijah Holder and Quentin “Showtime” Meeks start at corner, giving the Cardinal good size at 6’2”.Their work in run support will be just as vital as their pass defense. Watch how well they shed blocks in game one if you’re looking for early signs Stanford’s defense is on the way back to a nationally elite level.
As our intrepid Rookie Do-Hyoung Park noted, Stanford did not distinguish between Free and Strong Safeties on its opening depth chart. Obviously, the subterfuge won’t last long once the games begin, but I suspect there’s going to be great fluidity within this position group. Dallas Lloyd and Justin Reid are at the top for now, but Brandon Simmons, Zach Hoffpauir, and Ben Edwards will see plenty of field time.
Lloyd remains the holder, Conrad Ukropina returns to handle place kicking, and we don’t know who will be the definitive answer for punts and kickoffs. Jake Bailey and Alex Robinson have the “OR” status for punting per the K-State depth chart, and there is no designated kickoff specialist. C.J. Keller will be the long snapper.
So there you have it. Game One will doubtless have an impact on this depth chart, and with the bye week to follow immediately thereafter and USC looming, nothing is set in stone. This is the launch point, and so ends the 2016 Stanford Football offseason.