Notable Additions: OT/DT Jeff Zuttah 6-4 293 – U. Michigan transfer; C Alex Fletcher 6-4 295 – St. Anthony's HS, NY
Notable Subtractions: OT Kirk Chambers, TE Brett Pierce, WR Luke Powell, DT Amon Gordon
Notable Returnees: ILB David Bergeron 6-4 245 senior, OT Jeff Edwards 6-7 290 soph, QB Trent Edwards 6-4 210 soph, OLB Jared Newberry 6-2 235 senior, CB Leigh Torrence 6-0 183 senior
|2004 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE|
|09/04/04||San Jose State|
The passing game rests squarely on the shoulders of sophomore quarterback Trent Edwards, who blossomed last spring in his confidence and accuracy. But he will depend upon rapid maturation from a young offensive line to give him protection. The most veteran and experienced players on the offense are tight end Alex Smith and tailbacks Kenneth Tolon and J.R. Lemon; you can expect to see them involved in the passing game. Mark Bradford is the returning star of the receiving corps, but his spring underwhelmed and may foretell a sophomore slump. The underrated leader of the wideouts is senior Greg Camarillo, who could be the x-factor in the passing game.
Though passing has almost always been the name of Stanford's game, the running game is a better bet to produce this fall. Both Tolon and Lemon are breaking out under the leadership of new RBs coach Jay Boulware – running harder and more confidently. The fullback is back after its 2003 hiatus, though the two-back sets may appear nontraditional. The ground game, too, hinges upon the green O-line.
Defensive Overview: In marked contrast with the offense, experience abounds on this side of the ball. Six starters are fifth-year seniors, and their maturity will be needed as they seek to execute new schemes and formations put in place for 2004. The leader of the back end is free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, who led the team in tackles the last two years and led the conference in '03 in forced fumbles. He is a playmaker who passed on the NFL for this senior season, and he is joined with a trio of standout corners: Leigh Torrence, Stanley Wilson and T.J. Rushing. The defensive backfield was inconsistent last year, giving up too many big plays in losses, but they made adjustments and dominated in the spring.
The linebacking corps has nearly as much experience, with talented seniors David Bergeron and Jared Newberry leading the way. Kevin Schimmelmann made a successful transition from strong safety in 2003 and has added size and strength to go with his speed. The emerging star athletes to watch are Jon Alston and Michael Okwo. This quintet, plus the possible return of Michael Craven, is the reason why the LBs are the top attack weapons of the defense.
Stanford may mostly depend on those linebackers to provide pressure on opposing offenses, given the impotent pass rush from the defensive line last fall. NT Babatunde Oshinowo is the one star up front, but he will need help from defensive ends Will Svitek, Julian Jenkins, Casey Carroll and Scott Scharff.
Special Teams Overview: Not mentioned above in the "notable subtractions," but the graduation of fifth-year seniors P Eric Johnson and LS Drew Caylor have left the punting game in disarray. Redshirt freshman Jay Ottovegio takes over the punting duties, but his inexperience pales in comparison to the snapping problems. If somebody steps up for the long snapping, the rest of the special teams could be very good. Placekicker Michael Sgroi enjoyed a great off-season and the best health his back has known in years. Coverage and protection personnel are veteran and talented. There are several options, albeit unproven, for the kick/punt return positions.
The Cardinal will go bowling if... the young offense, particularly the front five, can gel in the first month of the season while they enjoy a four-game homestand. Buddy Teevens has yet to win a conference road game, and this year's schedule probably means his Card have to win twice away from home to get to a bowl game. With five of the last seven games on the road, we might expect the young offense to falter. When they struggle, it will be up to the veteran defense to pick them up. That sounds most unlike your father's Stanford, but the defense is the strength for the 2004 edition of Cardinal Football.
|TheInsiders.com 2004 College Football Preview|
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