Stanford is a sleeper team

May, 17, 2012
5/17/12
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If you haven't had a chance to familiarize yourself with new ESPN.com College Football Insider Travis Haney, what better way to get to know him than by reading a piece about Stanford. Well, Stanford and a few others.

Haney picked four teams as his spring sleepers Insider. Virginia Tech tops the list, along with Georgia, Kansas State and Stanford.

Here's a couple of hits from his Insider story:
Two reasons to have faith in the Cardinal: They can run and they can stop the run, and that's a pretty good place to start in the effort of winning football games. Senior back Stepfan Taylor has stealthily put up consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons, going for 1,330 yards in 2011. Had Stanford's kicker made the chip shot late against Oklahoma State, it would have been Taylor, and not [Andrew] Luck, who would have been Fiesta Bowl MVP after a 35-carry, 177-yard, two-score outburst. Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson, who combined for 731 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, provide quality depth. Youngster Ricky Seale impressed coach David Shaw in the spring. Oh, and Barry Sanders' kid (the nation's ninth-ranked RB recruit in the 2012 class) will be on campus beginning this summer.

Defensively, the Cardinal return the front for a unit that was first last season in the Pac-12 in yards per rush allowed (3.0 per-carry average) and stopping teams on third down (31.1 percent). It was second in the league points allowed, giving up 21.9 a game. With Shayne Skov returning from injury to rejoin all-conference performer Chase Thomas, Stanford is particularly loaded at linebacker.

Nothing in here should come as a surprise to anyone. Even with Luck running the show, the Cardinal were all about running the football first on offense and stopping the run on defense. They were very good at both last year and should be extremely good at the latter in 2012.

As Haney also points out in the story, there are some holes to fill on the offensive line and that's going to be an issue. I think we're all excited to see some of these true freshmen offensive linemen get into camp to see who can start contributing right away.

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