Stanford playoff bound in 2014?

July, 2, 2012
7/02/12
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Not sure if anyone caught this in Ted Miller's Pac-12 lunch links last week, but it's worth taking a look at.

Mighty Hank, a friend of the Stanford blog who does a great job with Go Mighty Card, projected a potential depth chart for Stanford in 2014 -- the first year college football will have its four-team playoff system.

Here's his projections:
  • Quarterback: Brett Nottingham, RS Sr.
  • Running backs: Kelsey Young, Sr.; Barry J. Sanders, Jr.; Remound Wright, Sr.
  • Wide receivers: Ty Montgomery, Sr.; Kodi Whitfield, Jr.; Francis Owusu, So.
  • Offensive line: Andrus Peat, Jr; Josh Garnett, Jr.; Kyle Murphy, Jr.; Nick Davidson, Jr.; Graham Shuler, Jr.
  • Defensive line: Aziz Shittu, Jr.; Jordan Watkins, Jr.; Luke Kaumatule, Jr.
  • Linebackers: AJ Tarpley, RS Sr.; James Vaughters, Sr.; Noor Davis, Jr.
  • Defensive backs: Wayne Lyons, RS Sr.; Alex Carter, Jr.; Zach Hoffpauir, Jr.

As Hank points out, there really is no way to fully project what the team is going to look like two seasons from now. But here is my first thought: nasty!

Owusu is the only player mentioned from the 2013 class. It will be interesting to see where players like QB Ryan Burns, ILB Isaac Savaiinaea and OLB Doug Randolph factor in.

A little more from Hank:
With the experience of a three-year starter at quarterback in Nottingham, a possible Heisman candidate in Sanders, and the best offensive line in the country, the offense promises to be dominant. Defensively, the front seven will have the strength to stifle the best running backs the Pac-12 has to offer, even if Vaughters has already made the leap to the NFL, and the defensive backfield will be skilled enough to do more than just keep up. All three levels of the defense could be at or near the top of the conference.

The offensive line is what stands out most to me. It's one thing to project what kind of impact Peat or Murphy could make in the 2012 season -- where the Cardinal are still trying to plug a couple of holes on the line. It's another to imagine them -- with a couple of years experience -- starting alongside other big-time recruits from the 2012 class. This group won't all come up together, but will likely see some spot starts along the way.

Then you put Sanders behind them and you have a powerful, explosive running game that is the envy of every B1G program. And if some of the 2013 guys are as advertised, the defense will be SEC worthy.

Of course, when you look at the recruiting classes USC and Oregon have brought in the last two years and the projected 2013 classes of the Trojans, Ducks and Washington, it's clear that this won't exactly be an easy road for the Cardinal. Expect the Pac-12 to ultra-competitive in 2014 with Stanford right in the mix.

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