OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE
I love this offense. I love how creative they are with play-calling, but I especially love their physicality—their line is by far the most physical in the league, and it would be one of the more physical lines in the SEC too.... Running back BRYCE LOVE is one of the best players in the country, period. If he gets through to the second level, your defensive backs have to get an almost perfect angle or he'll turn it into a home run. He's got the speed. He's so patient and waits for a little crease to open up, and then boom—he's gone.... Receiver JJ Arcenga-Whiteside is a game-breaker—he's a big receiver who had a huge bowl game [three TD receptions against TCU in the Alamo Bowl], showing what he's capable of.... One thing you can usually count on is for [head coach] David Shaw and defensive coordinator Lance Anderson to put out a strong D, but there's no question it was a down year on that side last season. They did not have the pass rush and the playmaking linebackers you normally see from them. They lost two key defensive linemen after last season and the unit needs to turn it around to make a run at the playoff.
BY THE NUMBERS
Runs by Bryce Love of at least 50 yards last season, an FBS record.
Yards per carry allowed by the Cardinal defense, its worst since '06.
David Shaw's program is one of the country's most consistent, but a brutal schedule and shaky defense will keep them out of another playoff.
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12-2 (PAC-12 CHAMPS)
You need more than Love, it turns out. Stanford's star running back rewrote the school record book in 2017, rushing for 2,118 yards, but the Cardinal offense still sputtered behind quarterback K.J. COSTELLO, who averaged just 8.6 yards per attempt. The junior showed potential in what was his first season as a starter, leading the team to an upset win over Washington and a victory over Notre Dame, but completed barely 50% of his passes in losses to USC and TCU. With the team's top four receivers and four All--Pac-12 linemen returning this season, Costello should improve his efficiency to keep opponents guessing—and get the most of Love's labors.
FRI., AUG. 31
SAN DIEGO STATE
@ OREGON [KEY MATCHUP]
@ NOTRE DAME (16) [KEY MATCHUP][SI RANKINGS]
THURS., OCT 18
@ ARIZONA STATE
@ WASHINGTON (4) [BIGGEST GAME][SI RANKINGS]