September 3, 2010

10 things to look for: Stanford vs. Sac State

After three weeks of practicing under tight guard, the Stanford Cardinal football team will pull back the curtain and unveil the 2010 squad.

Here are a few things to look for Saturday as the Cardinal host the Hornets.

(Remember, if you can't make the game we are hosting a live game chat starting at 3 pm. Stop by and talk Stanford football)

  • How and who will replace Toby
    All fall camp Harbaugh has inisted the competition at running back was four-deep. At the end of camp Jeremy Stewart and Stephan Taylor had a leg up on Tyler Gaffney and Usua Amanam. Will be interesting to see who gets the bulk of the carries and how this unit progresses.

  • How will Derek Hall perform at right tackle
    The second most heated battle was for the starting right tackle spot, and Hall won the job over James McGillicuddy. The fifth year senior had an excellent camp after the light going on. He joins a what most say is the top line in the conference and will be entrsuted to protect Andrew Luck

  • How has Luck progressed
    The redshirt sophomore enters the season at or near the top of NFL draft projections and coaches and players all say his game has improved. One area where Luck was deficient in 2009 was his red-zone decision making, and he says he is better there. The top targets from 2009 have all returned, so Luck is poised for a big year

  • How will players adapt to 3-4 defense scheme
    Many of the Cardinal players were schooled in a 4-3 scheme and were recruited to play in that defense. As Stanford transitions to the 3-4 under Fangio watch to see how former ends Chase Thomas and Thomas Keiser make the switch from down lineman to stand-up linebackers. Both players were highly effective as ends, but Fangio will need that same production from them now at linebacker. Sione Fua is a key at nose guard, as he and ends Matt Masifilo and Brain Bulcke need to keep the offensive lineman off the Stanford linebackers.

  • Owen Marecic goes both ways
    How will the all-conference fullback fare at linebacker. Cardinal fans are eager to see the lateral movement of the two-way player as he makes the adjustment to an inside linebacker. Pac-10 offenses will test the range of the FB/LB but the Hornets will provide a good test for Marecic as well.

  • Watch the depth chart
    The depth chart that was unveiled on Monday was disputed by Harbaugh, but on Saturday the shroud of secrecy will be lifted. Who is working in at DL? What is the defensive backfield rotation? Who are the backups providing key depth? Who is lining up where in different packages? Which backups are poised to get a lot of snaps? This will reveal what players had the strongest falls and which players coaches expect to carry the team through 2010.

  • The taste in your mouth? Vanilla
    Look for the Cardinal to keep it close to the vest versus the Hornets. With a conference game against UCLA looming next week Stanford is unlikely to show too much of the playbook. I don't expect to see many Fangio blitzes or Roman tweaks to run packages.

  • Which freshman will play
    Special teams could be the first place we see a true freshman take the field. CB Barry Browning is the only frosh listed on the Cardinal two-deep depth chart but Harbaugh mentioned Blake Lueders, Devon Carrington and Anthony Wilkerson as others who could play early

  • Will Stanford dominate
    Stanford will have a huge talent advantage at every position and should win this game going away. If all the talk we have heard about the team staying hungry and each game being a battle, this game will be no contest after the first quarter

  • If you build it, will they come?
    Stanford fans are yearned for a wining program, one they can hold their head high about - that time is here. The Cardinal team is at the door of the top 25, is generating national buzz due to Luck and is poised to take the next step as a program. Will Stanford fans show up to support this team and the program. Empty seats hurt athletic department coffers, kill recruiting, and do damage to the overall perception of Stanford being a top-flight program. Sacramento State sold out of their ticket allotment, Cardinal fans need to make sure that Stanford Stadium is a home-field advantage for Luck and company.

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