Pac-12: Ben Muth

Stanford spring football wrap-up

May, 8, 2009
5/08/09
9:20
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Stanford Cardinal
2008 overall record: 5-7

2008 conference record: 4-5

Returning starters

Offense: 8, defense: 8, kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

RB Toby Gerhart, OT Chris Marinelli, FB-LB Owen Marecic, DE Tom Keiser, FS Bo McNally, NT Ekom Udofia

Key losses

C Alex Fletcher, OT Ben Muth, DE Pannel Egboh, LB Pat Maynor, CB Wopamo Osaisai

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Toby Gerhert* (1,136)
Passing: Tavita Pritchard* (1,633)
Receiving: Ryan Whalen* (508)
Tackles: Bo McNally* (76)
Sacks: Tom Keiser* (6)
Interceptions: Bo McNally (4)

Spring answers

2009 Schedule

Sep. 5 at Washington State
Sep. 12 at Wake Forest
Sep. 19 San Jose State
Sep. 26 Washington
Oct. 3 UCLA
Oct. 10 at Oregon State
Oct. 17 at Arizona
Oct. 24 Arizona State
Nov. 7 Oregon
Nov. 14 at USC
Nov. 21 California
Nov. 28 Notre Dame

1. Luck of the Cardinal: While coach Jim Harbaugh wouldn't say after spring practices ended that Andrew Luck will be Stanford's starting quarterback at Washington State on Sept. 5, all signs point to the talented redshirt freshman besting 19-game starter Tavita Pritchard in their competition. Luck was brilliant in the spring game and barring any dramatic fall-off -- or injury -- he'll be the guy running the Cardinal offense.

2. Two-way can work: Players like Owen Marecic (fullback and middle linebacker), Michael Thomas (cornerback and receiver), Richard Sherman (cornerback and receiver) and Alex Debniak (linebacker and running back) -- among others, potentially -- likely will see playing time on both sides of the ball. That's one way to address depth issues and to get the best athletes on the field as much as possible.

3. Howell shores up secondary: Sophomore Delano Howell was switched from running back to strong safety to give the secondary some much-needed athleticism, and the move was widely viewed as a success as Howell proved himself a physical player as well as a guy who can move. He almost immediately ascended to the first-team defense.

Fall questions

1. Can they run? Last year, Stanford became one of the Pac-10's most physical running teams with a tough-guy offensive line and 237-pound running back Tony Gerhart. But Gerhart might sign a pro baseball contract and two key starters are gone from that line. The depth behind Gerhart is questionable, and the line took a hit when talented but star-crossed offensive tackle Allen Smith re-injured the knee that kept him out in 2008.

2. Can they run II? For Stanford to push into the top half of the conference, it's got to get faster across the board, but particularly in the secondary and at receiver. The need for speed inspired some of the spring position changes, and the touted incoming freshmen should inject some speed. But will it be enough...

3. ...To end the eight-year itch? Stanford hasn't been to a bowl game since 2001, when Tyrone Willingham was the coach many moons ago. But with 17 starters back from a team that finished 5-7 and lost three games by a touchdown or less, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Of course, such a breakthrough might renew talk about Harbaugh becoming a hot head-coaching candidate.

A couple more free-agent signings

April, 28, 2009
4/28/09
12:11
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Some more free-agent signings:

California
QB Nate Longshore, invited to Miami Dolphins minicamp
LS Nick Sunberg, Carolina Panthers

Stanford
DE Pannel Egboh, San Francisco 49ers
CB Wopamo Osaisai, San Diego Chargers
C Alex Fletcher, New Orleans Saints
RB Anthony Kimble, Miami Dolphins
OL Ben Muth, San Diego Chargers

Harbaugh may have Stanford on the move

August, 12, 2008
8/12/08
8:24
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

STANFORD, Calif. -- Jim Harbaugh's first season at Stanford started with a controversy. He told CBSSports.com in March of 2007 that Pete Carroll wasn't long for USC.

"He's only got one more year, though," Harbaugh told Dennis Dodd. "He'll be there one more year. That's what I've heard. I heard it inside the staff."

A minor storm followed.

Then Harbaugh proclaimed USC "the best team in the history of college football."

A minor storm followed.

Then, when football instead of words took centerstage, Harbaugh and his 41-point underdogs beat USC and Carroll, 24-23.

Major storm.

Harbaugh clearly is tired of talking about his Carroll comments.

"I'm not a controversial guy. Check my track record," he said. "Look at it as a rational human being, what controversial stuff? Define that. I don't see the controversy in that stuff."

That hullabaloo is about over, though. What might last is Harbaugh, who added a Big Game victory over California to a Cardinal season that greatly exceeded horribly low expectations.

With 16 starters back this fall, Stanford might sneak up on some people this fall. Toss in a fast start to recruiting, and the Cardinal might be ready to move out the nether regions of the Pac-10 it has occupied since Tyrone Willingham left in 2001.

Harbaugh much prefers talking about the recruiting effort -- "We're recruiting against national powers" -- and why he thinks hot shot high school players are giving Stanford a look.

"The word is spreading," he said. "They feel like the football program here is a powder keg ready to go off."

Another storm coming?

As for his present roster:

  • Asked to name players who have stepped up thus far during preseason camp, he ticked off a list of offensive linemen: tackle Ben Muth, guard Andrew Phillips and tackle Chris Marinelli.
  • On defense, he called Pannel Egboh and Erik Lorig "two of the top defensive ends in the conference," and then celebrated the depth inside with Brian Bulcke, Ekom Udofia and Sione Fua.
  • Noted that LB Chike Amajoyi, 205 pounds last year, is now 238. "He hasn't lost a step," he added.
  • There are still position battles at one cornerback opposite Wopamo Osaisai and free safety next to Bo McNally 
  • As noted earlier, he said that Tavita Pritchard continues to lead the quarterback competition, though he wouldn't commit to him as the starter on Aug. 28 vs. Oregon State.

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