The similarities are remarkable. Both have cannons for arms,
both excelled at football and baseball at Stanford. Both are
unusually big for quarterbacks. But while John Elway has gone on
to a Hall of Fame career with the Denver Broncos, Chad
Hutchinson is just entering his second season as a starter with
the Cardinal. "That's who I want to be compared to," the 6'5",
230-pound junior says of Elway. "Who wouldn't want to be? That's
some pretty good company--but I've got a long way to go."
Hutchinson and Stanford both took huge strides last season.
After a 2-5 start, the Cardinal finished with a five-game
winning streak that culminated in a 38-0 waxing of Michigan
State in the Sun Bowl. Hutchinson completed 22 of 28 passes for
226 yards against the Spartans and was named the game's MVP, as
Stanford became the only Pac-10 school to win a bowl game last
season. (Elway, by the way, never led the Cardinal to a bowl
"There's no question that a good quarterback makes a big
difference," says third-year coach Tyrone Willingham. "But our
offensive line also started to put things together around the
Stanford had been so dismal at the outset, however, that even
with its late-season turnaround, it finished last in the Pac-10
in total offense, scoring and rushing. The slow-to-mature
offensive line allowed a conference-high 43 sacks. "It was
tough," says Hutchinson, who in the off-season pitched Stanford
to the College World Series with his 97-mph fastball. "We took
our lumps together, and we're better because of it. We should
get off to a better start. It's up to the offense, because we
know our defense is going to be solid."
Six starters return from the Pac-10's third-ranked defense,
including senior all-conference end Kailee Wong, second in the
league with 12 sacks, and senior inside linebacker Jon Haskins,
who led the team in tackles. Says Willingham, "One thing that
people are still overlooking is that Stanford plays defense."
Although the Cardinal has two tough nonconference games--at
North Carolina on Sept. 13 and at home against Notre Dame three
weeks later--the team doesn't face Pac-10 favorite Washington,
thus substantially increasing Stanford's odds of playing in the
Rose Bowl. Hutchinson, for one, and Willingham, for another, are
ready for a run at the Rose.
COLOR PHOTO: STEPHEN DUNN/ALLSPORT HUTCHINSON BRINGS TO MIND A FORMER CARDINAL SIGNAL CALLER NAMED ELWAY [Chad Hutchinson in game]
25 Years since the Cardinal's last Rose Bowl appearance, a 13-12
victory over Michigan in 1972.
TWO GAMES TO WATCH
OCT. 4 VS. NOTRE DAME Irish quarterback Ron Powlus will test an
inexperienced Stanford secondary.
NOV. 22 VS. CALIFORNIA The centennial of the Big Game should
follow the recent trend--two of the last three meetings have
been decided by five points or less.
Passing Chad Hutchinson Jr. 190 comp., 312 att.,
2,134 yds., 10 TDs
Rushing Mike Mitchell Sr. 809 yds., 4 TDs
Receiving Damon Dunn Sr. 35 catches, 452 yds., 2 TDs
Tackles ILB Jon Haskins Sr. 100
Interceptions FS Tim Smith Jr. 4