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Stanford, David Shaw Have Company

Stanford, Boise State and Michigan State have struggled offensively this season. It's no coincidence that all three programs are replacing their all-time best QBs this year.

Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Darius Tahir (@dariustahir) takes a look at how Stanford's offensive struggles compare to those of other schools who said goodbye to elite QBs during the offseason.

Little-reported at the time, but maybe we should’ve paid attention to the support group for coaches replacing their program’s all-time best QBs formed over the summer. Over light snacks and lemonade, David Shaw, Art Briles, Chris Petersen and Mark Dantonio would attempt to get over the absence in the huddle (snorted Briles, "Huddling?") and in their hearts.

Turns out it can be hard to get over a loss. Auburn hasn’t, yet, and they’ve had a year and a bit to try. That’s what most of the coaches in our imaginary support group are (possibly?) fearing.

If you compare Stanford, Boise State and Michigan State, the troubles look remarkably similar. Stanford’s game without an offensive touchdown looks positively balmy to Boise State, which has submitted such games on two separate occasions (@ Michigan State, vs. BYU). Michigan State has only been able to get over 20 points against non-BCS opponents; against BCS conference opponents (plus Notre Dame), their point totals read 17, 3, 16. In fact, in terms of points averaged, Stanford’s on the top of the heap of these three teams.

On the other hand, Stanford’s 5.02 yards per play is lowest of the three, behind Michigan State’s 5.13 yards per play and Boise’s 5.98 yards per play. (On the third hand, Stanford’s played the hardest schedule – according to Sagarin, Stanford’s had the 13th-hardest strength of schedule; Michigan State’s got the 27th; Boise’s got the 46th.)

The exception to this is Baylor – Art Briles is probably the jerk of the support group, saying how simple it all is, replacing guys over and over. Briles also never brings anything and hogs all the hummus. Baylor actually averages the second-most points in all of college football. Granted, Baylor’s nonconference schedule is hardly intimidating, and West Virginia’s defense is the opening line to more than a few jokes, but averaging 54 points per game is averaging 54 points per game.

You don’t want to make too much of it, but it’s perhaps revealing Baylor’s playing the spread, whereas the other three teams play a relatively pro-style system. Who knows? Sample size of four is sample size of four.

Still, like all support groups, the best value may be more in letting you know you’re not alone than any solution as such. But they hope to get out; next year Brady Hoke and Lane Kiffin are coming in.