The race to replace Andrew Luck will monopolize the spotlight at Stanford’s training camp this August; but success in the fall will likely depend on how quickly Stanford can replenish its offensive line.
In addition to Luck, the Cardinal lost All-Americans David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin, the cornerstones of a line that helped produce the top-three rushing seasons in school history. The good news: Coach David Shaw landed three five-star offensive line recruits (according to Rivals.com), Andrus Peat, Kyle Murphy and Joshua Garnett, on signing day.
“[This is the] best group of offensive lineman I’ve seen join a college team,” Shaw said.
The line replaced three pieces last year, so it’s a question of how fast this young group can come together.
The Cardinal also lost three quarters of its starting secondary, including both safeties. That could be a good thing, though: Stanford allowed an average of 310.3 yards per game through the air over the past three seasons.
Shaw will boast one of the deepest linebacking corps in the country. First-team All-Pac 12 outside linebacker Chase Thomas (8½ sacks, 17 tackles for loss) is back, along with Shayne Skov, who’s returning from last year’s season-ending knee injury. Shaw said Skov will be ready for training camp, but he won’t rush his workload. “Shayne doesn’t have to prove to me that he can play the game of football,” he said. “Shayne has to prove to me that he’s healthy.”
CAL NEEDS TO DEVELOP RECEIVERS
If quarterback Zach Maynard blossoms into the player coach Jeff Tedford thinks he can be, it could obfuscate some glaring holes in Cal’s roster. But if he goes the way of Tedford’s last two quarterback experiments, Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley, expect another disappointing campaign in Berkeley.
The Buffalo transfer frustrated Bears’ fans with his inconsistency last season (57 percent completion percentage, 17 touchdowns, 12 interceptions); but Tedford said he’s grown significantly after a full year in the offense.
“You could really tell [in spring camp] that his experience through the season had really paid off,” he said.
But will Maynard have anyone to throw to other than half-brother Keenan Allen? After Allen, the Bears have a total of one reception on the wide receiver depth chart. Still, the Bears’ offense could be dynamic if Maynard’s cousin, redshirt freshman Maurice Harris, steps up and has an immediate impact as the team’s No. 2 receiver. “The key going into camp is going to be the development of the young receiving corps,” Tedford said.
Maynard might need to rely on his feet to find those receivers, though. Cal lost first-team All-Pac-12 left tackle Mitchell Schwartz to graduation and starting center Mark Brazinski will miss the entire season after suffering an ACL injury in April.