- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Pac-12 is blessed with an abundance of returning starting quarterbacks in 2014. With 10 starters coming back, many are wondering if the league is on pace for its best quarterback year ever. This week the Pac-12 blog will give you a snapshot of all 10.
Name: Kevin Hogan
2013 passing stats: 180-295-61%-2,630-20-10-72.3 (Raw QBR)- 80.5 (Adj. QBR)
Career passing stats: 289-447-64.7%-3,726-29-13-70.6 (Raw QBR)-79.8 (Adj. QBR)
2013 rushing stats: 84-355-2
Career rushing stats: 139-618-4
What you need to know about Hogan: Hogan was fortunate enough not to be the guy replacing Andrew Luck. Rather, he was the guy who replaced the guy who replaced Andrew Luck. With that came a little less pressure and a little less scrutiny. Despite a 7-2 record to start 2012, the coaching staff felt like they weren't getting enough out of Josh Nunes, who was inconsistent, to say the least, throughout his tenure as the starter. Hogan had a couple of reps throughout the season, but saw his first extended playing time in the ninth game of the season against Colorado before taking the reins against Oregon State. He's started every game since, appearing in 23 over the past two seasons.
Career high point: We don't want to say Hogan peaked too soon, because the Pac-12 blog believes Hogan is in for a solid 2014. But it's hard to top winning at Autzen, as he did in his first career road start in 2012. After replacing the embattled Nunes, Hogan had just one start under his belt -- a home victory against the Beavers -- before heading up to Eugene and knocking off No. 1 Oregon. He rushed for a touchdown and threw for another in the 17-14 overtime win. He's had big wins since -- another win over Oregon in 2013, a Rose Bowl victory in 2012 etc. But that was the game that "launched" him as Stanford's leader.
Career low point: When you read what an opposing coach had to say about Hogan (below), the first game that should pop into your mind is USC in 2013. The Cardinal were coming off a major 26-20 win at home over Oregon and then nine days later Hogan tossed a pair of interceptions with zero touchdowns in the 20-17 loss to the Trojans. He was just 14 of 25 for 127 yards and both picks came in the fourth quarter with the score tied 17-17, including one in the red zone. Sure, there were drops from the receivers. But quarterbacks always take the bulk of the scrutiny. And Hogan's decision-making in that game drew plenty of it.
When he was a recruit: Stanford beat out Rutgers, Vanderbilt and Virginia for Hogan, who committed to the Cardinal during the summer before his senior season. A three-star prospect and the No. 51 quarterback in the country, Hogan was not quite as highly regarded as fellow 2011 Cardinal signee Evan Crower, the nation's No. 38 signal-caller and the quarterback Hogan eventually beat for the starting job at Stanford after Luck's departure. While he hasn't exactly been Luck, the results for Stanford have been positive.
Opposing head coach's take: "He gets a lot of attention for being an efficient quarterback. Which he is. You have to be when you run that system. But he's also a bit of a cowboy sometimes and will go off the reservation probably more than that coaching staff would like. He can improvise, and when it works, it's great. When it doesn't, it's not. I think his ability to keep plays alive with his feet gives you an extra element you have to prepare for. Aside from the traditional power, they'll work in some option and he can make plays with his legs."
What to expect in 2014: What caught the eye of the coaching staff in 2012 was Hogan's ability to run the football. There were designated "Hogan packages" throughout the season leading up to him starting. They like that he can pick up first downs and teams have to account for him as a runner. As a passer, he didn't make the strides the coaches were hoping for in 2013. Part of that had to do with adjusting to a passing attack that was more wide-receiver centric after being spoiled with tight ends. While we expect to see more tight end packages from Stanford this year, Hogan still has a bona fide playmaker in Ty Montgomery. They'd like to see that completion percentage up from 61 percent last year and better decision-making. But the most important number is wins. And when it comes to that, Hogan delivers. He's 16-3 as a starter and 10-1 against ranked teams. If that trend continues, the Cardinal could be in line for a third-straight conference title.
Erik McKinney contributed reporting.