Less than 20 days until the opener and the only noise about Stanford is that most odds makers have them winning anywhere from 4 to 6 games total. That seems awfully low to me, for several reasons:
1. Everything is in place for a return to a strong running game. Very deep at running back. Add in Heimuli at fullback. Two deep at every OL slot, with 4 or 5 star experienced starters at each position except center.
2. If Tanner McKee can master the playbook, he will probably start. Looked much more accurate in limited duty during the spring game. Definitely a stronger arm that West. And despite his size, seems to be able to run. He's a mature (22 years old) sophomore who should be able to read defenses.
3. Linebackers are in great supply, inside and outside. Fox, Reid, Herron, Kaufusi, and Keck on the outside, all with game experience, albeit with some spotty play on closing off the edge. Miezan, Damuni, Mangum-Farrar, and Sinclair will provide depth inside.
4. With the addition of Tucker Fisk to the defensive line, it should be decent across the board. Booker can get into the backfield. Wade-Perry, with his size and presumably added strength, should be able to plug the middle. And, although Fisk is too slow for a receiving tight end, he should be mobile enough as a defensive end. I expect more sacks from this group.
5. Three good defensive backs: Kelly, Turner-Muhammad, and Bonner all showed coverage skills last year. Safety play has been spotty at best, but the two starters return and better linebacker play will help them both.
6. Three receivers in Wilson, Tremayne, and Higgins, who can catch the ball. You add in Humphreys at 6'5" ,tight end Yurosek at 6"5", and (I predict) E.J. Smith at slot, and there is no reason the passing game can't be effective.
6. The punter and kicker positions are filled with two good players, and I think Filkins might be a gem at returning kicks.
7. Freshman are always a big question mark, but a few might see some action, certainly later in the season. Armitage at defensive end. Aybar at outside linebacker.
I think the players are there. So, as usual this time of year, I'm optimistic.