One of the highlights of the Stanford recruiting year was star quarterback K.J. Costello out of Santa Margarita Catholic. He has a big arm, strong in the pocket and can make plays with his legs but does not rely on his mobility, meaning he will continually look downfield instead of taking off too soon. While expectations must be tempered for a freshman quarterback, it would be good to see what Stanford has for the future.
Ryan Burns has had his shot and failed to impress or find the end zone on even a weekly basis. While there are more problems than the quarterback position on offense, he is not elevating the offense either. He turns the ball over too much to be a game manager and is too inconsistent in the passing game to make the passing attack dangerous. Now Keller Chryst will be taking over the quarterback position relieving Burns. While Chryst never had a real shot as far as playing time, he seems to want to escape the pocket and go upfield a little too much. His instinct to give up on a play and turn up field too soon to let the play develop or make him a viable option. Though, Chryst will certainly get his chance to prove me wrong Saturday night against a struggling Arizona team on a 4-game losing streak. But if Chryst cannot get it done against an Arizona team that is seriously struggling it may be time to look forward.
I spent a solid chunk of my summer watching Costello’s film from his high school days and really liked his ability to push the ball downfield. This season is done, Stanford fans can believe all they want but the talent is not there in the trenches like it traditionally is in seasons past. When a roster is built around that and has so many critical injuries in a secondary that keeps this teams in games, then the writing is on the wall.
What I am not saying is the season is over so feed the young guy to the wolves, there is talent on the offense. The offensive line has had problems and the receivers are not elite. However, they have one of the top three running back duos in college with Christian McCaffrey and Bryce Love, both of whom also can catch out of the backfield. They also have tall receivers and tight ends, meaning with the right route combinations and quarterback those guys can get the ball. This team makes me think of the Jets offense. Really good backs, tall receivers and an offensive line that does not look terrible when everything is clicking.
The offensive line will not roll over people but if you can play the safeties out of the box with the passing game they will have a shot. That combined with the shiftiness that both backs have means the ball just needs to get out in space. Burns was shaky down the field and Chryst seems to want to tuck and run too soon in the play. If Costello is as good as I think he is, as good as the tape says he is, as good as Stanford needs him to be then he will not get killed, he could give the offense the boost they need.
Time to roll out the young talent and see what next year could hold, hopefully try and recruit a few guys on the outside and line to help strengthen and add depth to those spots. Unless Keller Chryst absolutely wows us it might be time to put Costello in the offense with no pressure, expectations or limitations. Just try to get him comfortable and see what he has and maybe even have him work out his growing pains while the rest of the team is struggling.