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15 Stanford

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OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE

Bryce Love [a 5'10", 196-pound junior running back] has a lot of speed, but he never seems to be healthy. [Trent] Irwin is a good receiver. He's got nice size [6'2", 205] and is a great route runner. I don't know why the coaches didn't lean on him more. Last year their O-line wasn't anywhere near as good as it's been, but I expect them to get a lot better because they've been recruiting well up front. They struggled at quarterback. [Senior] KELLER CHRYST is a huge kid [6'5", 234], but he struggles seeing coverages.

They're fundamentally sound on defense and good tacklers. They do a lot and they do it well, which is uncommon. They're big on movement up front and multiple and disciplined. Usually you can catch a guy out of his gap with teams that have that much movement, but not them. They're impressive in how well they run to the ball. The guy who doesn't get enough credit is [6'3", 241-pound senior outside linebacker] Joey Alfieri. He's savvy and anticipates well. He makes a lot of plays for them. Their secondary has no weaknesses. They're more athletic on the back end than people give them credit for. Quenton Meeks [a 6'2", 197-pound junior] is an excellent corner. I could see him as a first-round guy. Brandon Simmons, the free safety [who's 6 feet, 199], is a really good player too.

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS (1 TO 128)

[The following text appears within an illustration. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual illustration.]

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSION % (50TH)

YARDS PER PASS ATTEMPT (92ND)

COMPLETION % (61ST)

YARDS PER CARRY (28TH)

SACKS ALLOWED (103RD)

TURNOVERS LOST (47TH)

POINTS PER DRIVE (62ND)

YARDS PER PLAY (65TH)

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS (1 TO 128)

[The following text appears within an illustration. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual illustration.]

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSION % ALLOWED (38TH)

YARDS PER PASS ATTEMPT ALLOWED (30TH)

COMPLETION % ALLOWED (27TH)

YARDS PER CARRY ALLOWED (49TH)

SACKS (22ND)

TURNOVERS GAINED (60TH)

POINTS PER DRIVE ALLOWED (16TH)

YARDS PER PLAY ALLOWED (41ST)

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RATING

50

Stanford visits USC (9/9) early, but the key games are at Washington State (11/4) and home against Washington (11/10). Last year Stanford lost to those two by a combined 86--22. If the Cardinal sweeps the Evergreen State, they'll likely get another shot at the Trojans in the Pac-12 title game.

PLAYER TO KNOW

Stanford has had a terrific run of tight ends, and the 6'6", 242-pound senior DALTON SCHULTZ is the next in the pipeline. Expect a jump from last season's 23 catches for 222 yards and one touchdown as the big target helps boost an offense that dropped from 30th in the nation in red zone TD percentage in 2015 to No. 123 in '16. "Our desire for Dalton was to be that complete NFL tight end. And that's what he's becoming," says Stanford coach David Shaw. "As we stabilize the offensive line and quarterback positions, he's one of the guys I think is going to benefit and really have a breakout year. And it won't just be statistically. He's one of those guys that you're going to see play on Sundays."