I wanted to release this article on Monday morning and then I took a breather, updated what was going on (Chryst replacing Burns) and wanted to be a little nicer to the team as sometimes even I forget that these are kids playing. Now don’t get me wrong, the title of this article is no joke and if you can’t handle criticism, you better stop reading right now. I have been going to Stanford events both academically and athletically since I was 5 years old. I have been there for the best of times and I have been there for the worst of times and yet for a 4-3 team, it feels like a winless team at times.
Stanford has 5 games left and are all winnable games even for an average team and yet, this team doesn’t give me hope that they can turn this season around. Stanford seems seem more likely to play in the 2016 Toilet Bowl. Every school loses players that were key to their success and maybe this was the first time that losing key players (Blake Martinez and Kevin Hogan among others) was something only a school like Alabama or Ohio State could recover from even with an All-American like Christian McCaffrey coming back. Maybe this team just isn’t as good as we all had thought or hoped. Maybe David Shaw will show a part of him that we haven’t seen before for better or worse.
Before we get into challenging the toughness of this Stanford team, let me try to be positive and point out that Stanford is not the only team to come into 2016 with high hopes and a dream of making the College Football Playoff. Preseason #4 Florida State and #5 LSU were heavy preseason favorites to make the CFP and while they are combined 10-4, they are currently ranked #12 and #19 respectively with a lot of work to do just to win their conference nonetheless make the playoff. Those two teams though are two of the lucky ones. Stanford is playing terrible football and are lucky to be 4-3 but at least they are 4-3. AP preseason 10-13 was Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Michigan State, and TCU. Those 4 teams are a combined 11-17 with a 3-9 conference record and Michigan State is 0-4 in conference. While fun to read about preseason predictions, there shouldn’t be preseason polls as they tend to make teams look even worse;
Stanford in 2016 up to this point has been dreadful to watch. You can insert words like embarrassing or disgrace as well if you like. The Washington State game was the first game I have ever left early and yes, I was at every game from 2002-2006 and sat through that bull crap. Stanford is no longer just a school that plays football and hopes for a conference championship every now and then; Stanford has transformed itself into a juggernaut. Since David Shaw has taken over, Stanford has 54 wins and that doesn’t count this season. That is more than schools like Oklahoma and LSU, only two less wins than Ohio State and Clemson and only 8 wins… yes 8 wins behind Alabama. You would never know it as Stanford has played its way back into the depths of college football hell. Right now, David Shaw looks like a man who doesn’t know what to do although changing quarterbacks does show he can pull the string when things go bad and hopefully, he won’t hesitate to do the same with offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren if the offensive woes continue.
While coaching has been terrible and the quarterback play has been less than superb, the offensive line has not come close to what Stanford expects out of their tunnel workers. Now, as far as the offensive line goes, Casey Tucker has not been what was expected as a top recruit. A.T. Hall plays like he doesn’t want to get hit or hit someone and maybe that is not his fault as he wasn’t a top recruit and is replacing an all-conference player and Johnny Caspers has grossly under performed for a veteran.
Defensively, how can 11 guys feel confident when their offense is less than adequate (126 out of 128)? Solomon Thomas and Quenton Meeks are holding this team together but they have been the only bright spots for the most part. Defensive backs wise, Zach Hoffpauir still looks like a baseball player and not a shut down DB. Alameen Murphy has been….. not as good as Alijah Holder who is now out for the year. Linebackers like Kevin Palma, Jordan Perez, and Peter Kalambayi have killed Stanford all season and when they aren’t getting abused in the run-game, they have been out of position on short throws and have forced the defensive backs to help them and that is when the defensive backs have gotten killed on the deep ball. The point is the linebackers have always been crucial to Stanford’s success and haven’t been very good this season.
I love Stanford University and Stanford football. I don’t like to play the bad guy and criticize anyone who represents Stanford University but I also don’t like when those who do aren’t representing that Stanford “S” to the highest degree. I hope that David Shaw coaches like his job depends on it, I hope the players play like their scholarships are on the line and I hope Keller Chryst takes over and just relaxes as we have to hope he can get us through the rest of the season before we start the chants for KJC.
Stanford has 5 games remaining plus a potential bowl game and mathematically could win 10 games but Stanford could also finish the year with 4 wins although very unrealistic given how bad some of Stanford’s opponents are. My motto for this week is if you can’t handle the pressure of winning games, don’t show up and embarrass Stanford on Saturday. I would rather see Luke Kaumatule out there busting his butt because at least I know he wants to represent Stanford University.