2018 Stanford football projections on the Hour Glass
By John Luke McCord
A gift from the college football gods fell into David Shaw’s lap when 2017 Heisman finalist running back Bryce Love announced that he would return for his senior season in Paolo Alto. Not only does it mean the Cardinal will have one of the most gifted playmakers in college football, it also means this 2018 Stanford offense has a chance to be special. Sure, KJ Costello - who holds a 12.6 Hour Glass QB stamp which is fifth in the Pac-12 - isn’t the most experienced signal caller, but his lack of experience is more than made up for around him. And frankly, Costello possess plenty of talent to be the unlocking force for the offense this fall.
While Shaw made it clear this past spring that Love will get his touches, but that what will make this offensive unit special is its talent at position. There’s experience at receiver with Trenton Irwin and JJ Arcega-Whiteside, to go along with promising, young talent - namely speedster Connor Wedington. Tight ends and fullbacks are critical on offense for Stanford so keep your eye on returning TEs Kaden Smith and Colby Parkinson as well as full as fullback Reagan Williams.
So the key will be whether or not Costello takes the next steps and makes the right decisions for this unit to be successful. Sure he will be able to lean on a running back with homerun hitting ability, and there’s veteran presence all around him, but at some point Costello will make a play that wins or loses a crucial game for his team.
While many stars have been made on the offensive side of the ball at Stanford, and the unit will be good in 2018, its defense that this program hangs it hat on. That side of the ball is where their physical nature originates. That will again be the case this season, and this defensive unit has promise itself. The back seven is sure to be dominant, with plenty of familiar faces and versatile playmakers. Ben Edwards, Frank Buncom, Brandon Simmons, Alameen Murphy and Malik Antoine are just a few of the names to follow in the defensive secondary. At linebacker it’s Andrew Pryts, Bobby Okereke, Jordan Perez, Joey Alfieri and Sean Barton that will set the tone. Up front along the defensive line, admittedly, is where Shaw and fans are most hopeful that new difference-makers emerge. Sure, Bo Peek, Jovan Swann, Mike Williams are back, and there are young guys like Thomas Booker and Andres Fox, but the lost production is concerning. There has to be depth and top end players establish themselves in the trenches for the Cardinal. The good news is, they practice against an offensive line that is sure to force them to do both.
Last season Stanford won the Pac-12 North, but fell to USC in the conference title game. It was the second loss to USC on the season, as the Trojans were the only conference foe to beat the Cardinal in 2017. Two of the other losses were by a mere three points each. Their 9-5 finish could easily have been even better.
This year the schedule toughens as they face San Diego State (a L from 2017), USC, Oregon and Notre Dame in the first five games. On top of that they face Oregon,
Notre Dame, Washington, Cal and UCLA on the road in 2018.
HG analytics pick: 10-2, 2nd in Pac-12 North
My pick: 10-2, 2nd in Pac-12 North
2017 Stanford projection was 10-2; actual finish was 9-3 (92 percent accuracy)
Hour Glass National Recruiting Ranking: 24th – inside our College Football Playoff talent line on our talent index.
National Coaching Rank for David Shaw on HG Scale: 7th (Shaw Stamp at 20) – Average coaching value for 2018 set at 3.75.
Returning Stanford quarterback play rated 23rd in the country in our Power Five Rankings with a stamp of 12.6. Average quarterback stamp nationally for 2018 is 8.3.