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Oregon State Football: A Midsummer’s Opponent Preview - Stanford Cardinal (Game 8)

How will the Cardinal spur a revival in 2020?

San Diego State v Stanford Photo by David Madison/Getty Images

Stanford Cardinal

  • Head Coach: David Shaw (10th Season)
  • 2019 Record: 4-8 (3-6 in Pac-12)
  • Last Meeting: 9/28/19 - Stanford 31, Oregon State 28
  • Key Returners: CB - Paulson Adebo, OT - Walker Little, QB - Davis Mills

The Skinny

Stanford fell on rough days in 2019, as David Shaw’s squad crawled out to a 1-3 start and ended up finishing the campaign on a four-game losing skid, marking the first time since 2008 that the Cardinal didn’t go bowling. Heading into 2020, Stanford will try to pick up the pieces and find brighter days ahead in Palo Alto, anchored by a rebuilt offense and a serviceable defense.

Oregon v Stanford
David Shaw is coming off one of the most trying seasons in his Stanford tenure.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Stanford has three returning stand-outs on the offensive line between tackle Walker Little, a top NFL prospect who missed almost all of last season due to injury, bookend piece Foster Sarell and 2019 second-team All-Pac-12 selection Drew Dalman at center. That grouping will try to return the Cardinal to it’s roots under Shaw, who have thrived in the past as a ground-and-pound team first. Yet, in the running backs room, Shaw has more questions than answers.

Last season’s leading rusher Cameron Scarlett is off to the NFL, meaning a trio of players, led by sophomores Austin Jones and Nathaniel Peat, as well as veteran Dorian Maddox, need to make some major strides. Jones is the team’s top returning running back in terms of production, totaling just 227 yards on 45 carries last season.

The good news for Stanford is that quarterback Davis Mills is back in tow with no more competition from K.J. Costello, who transferred to play for head coach Mike Leach at Mississippi State this off-season. Mills will now become the unequivocal starter, after tossing for an average of 356.7 yards per game over his last three starts and completing 65.6% of his passing attempts on the year.

Mills should also have a solid receiving core to spread the ball around to. Michael Wilson, a 6’ 2”, 210-pound target, caught 56 passes for 672 yards and 5 scores in 2019 as a more reliable option even than departed tight end Colby Parkinson. Even larger target Simi Fehoko came on later in the season to prove himself as a valuable piece and key clogs like Connor Wedington, a special teams expert, and Osiris St. Brown will be another season improved.

On the defensive side of things is where things begin to obfuscate (SAT words) for the Cardinal.

Northwestern v Stanford
Cornerback Paulson Adebo has grabbed four picks in both of his seasons for the Cardinal.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

While everyone knows cornerback Paulson Adebo, the reigning first-team All-Pac-12 selection, the rest of the depth chart has a sprinkling of stand-out players, not deep and gifted units, which rarely breeds season-long consistency. Defensive end Thomas Booker is an uncontrollable 6’ 4”, almost 300-pound nuisance who lives in the backfield, totaling 8.5 tackles for loss and 4 sacks in 2019. The duo of Adebo and Booker will anchor the squad at both levels.

However, Booker’s running mates will looking much different as Stanford was brutalized by departures, with edge talent Casey Toohill now in the NFL, Jovan Swann having transferred to Indiana and Michael Williams off to SMU. Defensive tackle Dalyn Wade-Perry will have to step up to make things easier up the middle, especially as a linebacking core behind him pieces things together without leading tackler Andrew Pryts.

Inside linebacker Curtis Robinson, who posted 64 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 3 passes defended last year, moves into the top-dog position that was held by Pryts, while Gabe Reid and Jordan Fox will simply have to do more. It’s not a perfect scenario for Shaw, but as of late, it hasn’t been too often.

Player To Watch

Arizona v Stanford
Fehoko has good hands, solid separation at the point of attack and is an improving route-runner.
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Simi Fehoko - Wide Receiver

A large target at 6’ 4”, 225 pounds, Fehoko tallied 12 catches for 210 yards and 2 touchdowns over the last three outings of his 2019 season. He’s a benefactor of a strong receiving group with a few versatile options that keep defensive secondaries on their toes. His improving connection with quarterback Davis Mills gives reason to believe that his 2020 campaign should be another step forward.

Game Info

  • Date: Saturday, October 30th
  • Time: TBD
  • Location: Stanford Stadium (Stanford, CA)

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