I think Keller Chryst may have been the only (or one of very few) undefeated starter in college football last year, and the Cardinal need him in order to be relevant in the PAC-12, but if he’s not ready to play to start the season, who will suit up?
David Shaw has made it known that there’s no starting quarterback competition; Keller Chryst is his guy. So the question is not if he’ll play but when he’ll play. According to Shaw, Chryst is expected to be back by fall camp, which makes him available for the August 26th game versus Rice, but more likely than not, Chryst will sit out in Australia to protect his knee, so the battle for backup quarterback is on.
The Stanford Cardinal have three options for the backup position: Ryan Burns, KJ Costello, and Davis Mills. Mills will be a true freshman, and given that Shaw has never started a true freshman QB, he’ll probably redshirt. Burns, a fifth year senior, and Costello, a redshirt freshman, meanwhile have already taken their redshirt years and are both healthy.
In the spring game, Burns had a better day than Costello, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll get the starting nod against Rice. Shaw might choose Costello’s development over Burn’s experience, but whoever starts will be on a tight leash.
Ultimately, does it really matter who starts against Rice? I mean it’s Rice. The Owls aren’t exactly a formidable foe and should be no problem for the Cardinal.
The real question is, what if Chryst can’t play against USC? The Cardinal head to LA just two weeks later and need Chryst to be ready. Last year, Chryst clearly was a better field general than Burns, and the offense finally sparked when he took the starting job. Luckily, all signs indicate Chryst will be ready to face the Trojans. Shaw has said it, and from a fans perspective, Chryst looks perfectly fine and was walking around without a knee brace at spring practices.
However if Chryst has a setback, let’s just hope that either Burns is a more confident player or better yet Costello is a generational talent.