What to expect at the start of the Stanford football season
The opening week of the season will see the first real test for Stanford coach David Shaw and his men as they open their season against rival Cal at Stanford Stadium.
It has been a very difficult week for Shaw as his men have struggled to make a difference on the field, but on the pitch the Cardinal are still undefeated in 2017.
Shaw will take the field for his first preseason game on Saturday night against a Cal team that finished the regular season in last place and have been without senior quarterback Marcus Mariota for a long stretch.
Stanford has not faced Cal in preseason, so they will need to find a way to stop Mariota and have their quarterback play well enough to make the Cardinal a factor in the regular-season battle.
The game will be played on the Stanford campus.
“I am excited for the opportunity to put on a Stanford jersey and show our fans why we are the most-acclaimed team in the Pac-12,” Shaw said in a statement.
For Shaw, the opportunity will be a chance to prove himself as the first coach in school history to lead his team to a top-10 ranking.
On paper, the Cardinal have the talent to compete with the Cal Trojans for the Pac 12 South title, but it is the defensive line that is going to have to be better in the first preseason match-up.
Despite having a lot of experience playing both defensive and offensive tackle, the offensive line for the Cardinal is not what you would expect.
While the offensive linemen have been working hard, the defensive linemen have not been as strong as Shaw’s unit this season.
Defensive end Brandon Mebane and defensive tackle Brandon Thomas have been battling to play more snaps and Thomas has been limited to just 14 snaps in all three games.
In order to win this game, the Cal offensive line needs to be more consistent and dominate the line of scrimmage.
There will be no surprises for the Stanford offense this year, as Shaw will have his offensive coordinator Todd Grantham in charge of the offensive side of the ball.
Grantham has a strong track record of developing the talent of the Cardinal offense and his system is a mix of zone blocking and power-based passing.
Last season, Granthams offensive unit finished the year with the No. 7 ranking in FBS in yards per game and the No, 20 ranking in scoring offense.
With the offensive talent that Granthampers system is capable of producing, the offense can’t afford to be slow on offense.
“It’s exciting for us,” Shaw told reporters on Tuesday.
“We’re going to be very motivated to play well.”
“The defense, as you saw last year, has really improved.
They’ve been playing very well and I think they’re going be a lot more explosive this year than they were last year.”
The Cardinal will be hoping to find their way into the top-20 scoring offense in the nation, and the defense is going out to prove that they belong in the top 10.
Both teams have a strong defense and the offensive game plan should not be overly challenging, especially for Shaw.
Cal has had a number of injuries this season and while the Cardinal’s defensive line has looked good so far, they have yet to win a game.
If the defense can keep the ball down, Shaw will need them to be a force on the ground.
This is a good opportunity for Shaw to show that he has a capable offensive line.
They have the depth to make an impact and Shaw needs to make sure that the offensive and defensive line are on the same page.
Another challenge will be the Stanford quarterback situation.
Freshman Sam Darnold has struggled to be successful in his career and has not been given many chances to make plays, so Shaw will be looking to get Darnolds confidence as he enters the game.