As we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, let us look back on the 2016 season. With all the ups and downs, there is a lot to be thankful for as we carve the turkey.
- Return to health - Christian McCaffrey’s return to health is a huge part of the Stanford hot streak and getting him at full strength changes the way this offense operates. But Quenton Meeks was injured too, which put stress on the entire defense and how they cover opponents. He also is a big playmaker like McCaffrey - do you think Stanford wins the ugly Notre Dame game without his pick six? Safety Justin Reid also went out and is a huge part of the run defense. His return gave the Cardinal a player that can play in coverage or down on the line as a versatile part of the defensive squad.
- The switch-up - The coaching staff gave Ryan Burns a shot, then another and another. But when they saw his struggles, Shaw and company made the switch to Keller Chryst. While he is not Lamar Jackson, Chryst has the arm and confidence to give the offense more of a deep threat. He helps clear out the box and gives the team a better edge to win.
- Timing - While it has been a rough season, it could have been worse. Let us be thankful that we got the Max Browne USC team as opposed to the Sam Darnold USC. The close win against a Josh Rosen UCLA also looks a lot better than if they had played them last weekend, with Mike Fafaul at the helm. And it still would have been a close game because of the defensive play of both teams that game and the offensive struggles that Stanford was having.
- Solid bench - When McCaffrey was out against Notre Dame and Bryce Love stepped up with a 120+ yard performance on the ground, it was a good reminder that most teams don't have a starting running back sitting second string. Even with Stanford’s recruiting challenges, the Cardinal still had depth not every team is good enough to posses.
As a Stanford fan, that is what I am thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and go Cardinal!