Football aims to return to normal in the first game

When Stanford football returns to action this season, they won’t just be battling their opponents, they’ll be competing against themselves.

“The biggest thing this year is that we really want to rewrite the mistakes that we made last year,” fifth-year linebacker Ricky Miezan said at Tuesday’s news conference.

By the time Stanford (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12) takes the field for his season opener Saturday, it will have been more than 11 months since his last win. The Cardinal closed out the 2021 season riding a seven-game losing streak, overwhelmed by a shaky run defense, untimely injuries and everything else that could have gone wrong. While Stanford has historically thrived under head coach David Shaw, last year’s team posted its second sixth-place finish in the Pac-12 in three years and posted just three wins, Shaw’s lowest win total since took over the program.

This year, the team itself doesn’t look that different, which is good. The program is scheduled to kick off the year after a full strength and conditioning program, spring practice and training camp, luxuries the team didn’t have last offseason with strict COVID-19 policies in the Area. of the Bay. With minimal roster turnover, Cardinal returns nearly all of the key players, many of whom are expected to make big jumps.

That is, junior quarterback Tanner McKee will remain under center after a historic 2021 campaign. And with his first full offseason since 2017, when he was entering his senior year of high school and before a two-year stint Latter-day Saint years behind him, the projected first-round pick for next year’s NFL draft will be considered to turn things around for this Stanford program badly in need of a redirect.

See also  Fantasy Football Week 2: Rises and Falls

“[McKee is] bigger, stronger, more in tune, I think, with the offense,” Shaw said of his quarterback. “The offense has morphed to its strengths, and it’s just in a better place. He is a leader, he is the leader.”

The improvements seen up and down the list leave coaching staff and players optimistic that this season will put the program back where it’s striving to be. However, before there is any indication of whether Stanford succeeds in doing so, the team still has a full season ahead of it, and it starts on Saturday.

“This team has an opportunity to be special, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Shaw said. “We can’t start thinking about the end of the season at the beginning of the season. So for me right now, success for us is just winning the next game.”

In Week 1, the Cardinal will welcome Colgate (0-0, 0-0 Patriot League) to The Farm. The Raiders, the first FCS team Stanford has faced since 2018, enter the matchup fresh off a 5-6 season under now second-year head coach Stan Dakosty. Last year, Colgate was outdone, outdone, outdone; but heck, they weren’t outmatched. Still, even as 41.5-point favorites, the Cardinals don’t see this game any differently.

“This is like a culture game, this is a character game,” Miezan said. “Just because they’re Colgate doesn’t mean our preparation changes. It doesn’t mean our mentality changes towards the game.”

While they won’t be the most formidable opponent Stanford faces this season, they do present an interesting matchup. The Cardinals’ weak point was their run defense last year, as they allowed a Pac-12-worst 237.6 yards per game on the ground. Fortunately for the Raiders, running the ball is their bread and butter.

See also  Who will win the digital commerce race?

Complemented by a mix of looks, from overhead sweeps to play action and quarterback movement, Colgate’s entire offense is based around their quarterback, Michael Brescia.

“That quarterback is a very good athlete,” Shaw said. “He is a big boy. It doesn’t go down easy. That’s something we really have to acknowledge early on.”

Brescia won the Patriot League Rookie of the Year award last year after posting 567 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns to go along with 614 yards and two passing touchdowns.

“Last year we had trouble keeping certain quarterbacks in the pocket,” Miezan said. “So it will be a good test to see where we are and what we need to fix.”

While Stanford has his sights set on correcting his way through the season as a whole, it all starts Saturday against Colgate.

“My mindset right now is to win the next game we play,” Shaw said. “You know, that’s all we want to do. We’re going to win the next game we play.”

The season opener is scheduled to begin at 5 pm at Stanford Stadium.

Leave a Comment