A Post-Spring Look At: Stanford

Toby Gerhart returns as Stanford's leading rusher from 2008. (via Lance Iversen/ The Chronicle)

(Note: Many of the links below go to SB Nation Player Pages)

Oregon State will host Stanford at Reser Stadium on October 10th. Last year, the Beavers opened their season with Stanford and lost 28-36. 

Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh seemingly summed up Stanford's offensive scheme when he sat down with a local talk show a few weeks ago.

"Number-7 is our signature guy. We are going to get him the ball!"

Toby Gerhart, who wasn't selected in this month's MLB draft, will return to Stanford for his senior year. The two sport star, who made a trip to Omaha with the baseball team last year, is enjoying an extended summer which is allowing him to prepare more for football season. Last year, Gerhart rushed for 1,136 yards and 15 touchdowns. When asked by the Examiner how many yards he would rush for this year, Gerhart did not pause. "2,000 yards."

"I love talking about Toby Gerhart" Harbaugh told a Comcast SportsNet crew. "He has great balance, vision and you have to tackle him down around the legs because if you go high, he'll bounce off of you and he has the speed to break away."

Gerhart will have a good chance to reach his goal behind an experienced line that includes senior tackles Matt Kopa and Chris Marinelli

Said Harbaugh: "We will have a very physical offensive line, much improved wide receivers and tight ends and fullback Owen Marecic is a special, special player"

Marecic, the former Jesuit  High star, has been a key piece of Stanford's blocking schemes over the last two years, but figures to increase his carries this year to take some of the load off of Gerhart. 

As for other comments from the coach, he again named Andrew Luck the starting quarterback for Stanford although the competition with Tavita Pritchard will go on. "It is a fluid situation. Andrew Luck is our starter out of spring ball, but Pritchard has 19 career starts and some big wins like against USC. He will compete."

More on Luck: "He had a very good spring game, but it was not just the practice game, he did that well all spring."

Luck completed 18 of 25 passes for 352 yards and five touchdowns to lead the White team to a 42-17 victory over the Cardinal in the annual Cardinal and White Spring Game. He tossed touchdown passes of 41, 16, 20, 4 and 32 yards. Two of the touchdown passes went to Richard Sherman, who also shined on defense for the White team, finishing with eight tackles

More from the Examiner:

Harbaugh is very optimistic about the upcoming season. He pointed to the "consistent, methodical improvement" the team has made in his first two years and is looking to reap big rewards in this third year. "The seniors coming in this year are poised for a really good year and also some younger players are poised to crack the lineup. I feel like the team has gotten better and better and better."

While the offense seems to be shaping up, there are many questions on the defense. Former running back Delano Howell is expected to switch to strong safety this year along side proven free safety Bo McNally. The Cardinal also needs to find a pair of cornerbacks-- following sprig practice, the guys on top of the battle were junior Corey Gatewood and sophomore Michael Thomas. 

The defensive line is shaping up to be the most dangerous part of the defesnse, with ends Erik Lorig, Tom Keiser, and Tom McAndrew all back. Tackles Ekom Udofia, Matthew Masifilio, and Sione Fua round out the line. Middle linebacker Clinton Synder returns, but Pat Maynor needs to be replaced on the weak side. Will Powers is expected to start on the strong side, and Chike Amajoyi is the leading candidate to replace Maynor on the weak side. 

All-in-all, the Cardinal have the potential to string together a six win season and become bowl eligible for the first time since 2001. To do it, they'll need Gerhart to stay healthy, the secondary to pan out, and a little bit of Luck at quarterback. 

--Jake (jake.buildingthedam@gmail.com)

Previous Post-Spring Profiles: ArizonaArizona State

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