Friday, February 17, 2017

Farewell to 2016: Stanford Cardinal

It was a season of highs and lows in the PAC-12 in 2016. The Washington Huskies turned a major corner, making it to the national semifinal before getting smothered by Alabama. The Huskies were one of four teams that won 10 games or more. On the flip side, half of the teams in the conference finished under .500, including two major surprise teams in Oregon and UCLA. The conference's prize QB, Josh Rosen, was injured for most of the season, and under performed when he was available, and Jake Browning became the new star QB of the conference until being upstaged by Sam Darnold at USC. The biggest story was the emergence of the Colorado Buffaloes, who shocked everyone by winning the South. Here is our farewell to the 2016 season, team by team, in the PAC-12...

Stanford Cardinal
10-3 (6-3)

2016 Schedule
Beat Kansas State 26-13
Beat USC 27-10
Beat UCLA 22-13
Lost to Washington 44-6
Lost to Washington State 42-16
Beat Notre Dame 17-10
Lost to Colorado 10-5
Beat Arizona 34-10
Beat Oregon State 26-15
Beat Oregon 52-27
Beat California 45-31
Beat Rice 41-17
Beat North Carolina 25-23 (Sun Bowl)

MVP Offense: RB Christian McCaffrey
McCaffrey had to do it all in a sort of way in 2016, as the Cardinal passing game was not in sync all season long. McCaffrey departs Stanford as one of the all-time best backs in school history, and wrapped his junior season by rushing for 1603 yards and 13 scores on 23 carries per game. He averaged 6.34 yards per carry on the season. He added another 318 yards on kick returns, and 96 yards on punt returns. He did not play in the Sun Bowl win over North Carolina, choosing instead to leave the program early to prep for the NFL draft.
MVP Defense: DL Solomon Thomas
Thomas also wrapped his college career after the 2016 season. He led the team with 61 tackles, and also led with 15 TFLs, which included 8 sacks. He also recorded 7 QB hurries, which also led the team in 2016. Thomas played his best game against Notre Dame, making 12 tackles that day.
Others of Note
Neither Ryan Burns nor Keller Chryst seemed to take the bull by the horns at QB, leaving Stanford to look in another direction as spring camp approaches. Stanford could end up with a true freshman starting this fall.
Bryace Love impressed as the backup at RB, rushing for 783 yards and 7.05 yards per carry. He ran for 119 yards in the Sun Bowl starting in place of McCaffrey.
Trenton Irwin led the team in receiving with a paltry 442 yards.
The Stanford defense allowed just a shade over 20 points per game, and averaged just 62.46 tackles per game, making for a very efficient season.
LB Joey Alfieri was the only other Cardinal defender to reach double figures in TFLs, with 10.5.
Stanford recorded 37 team sacks, but the O line gave up 34.
Alameen Murphy led the team with 7 PBUs.
Conrad Ukropina finished his career strong at PK, hitting 22/27 FGs. Sophomore P Jake Bailey was also solid, averaging 43.52 yards per punt.
Best Win: USC 27-10
This was one of the last toimes anyone would catch the Trojans napping at the wheel, and Stanford dominated from start to finish. Not long after, USC went on a major run that took them to the Rose Bowl. Had Stanford played this game later in the season, there is likely no way they win.
Worst Loss: Washington State 42-16
Stanford has slipped in the North hierarchy, as was on display in this 26 point loss to upstart Washington State. With McCaffrey gone after 2016, the slippage could continue.
2017 Non Conference Schedule: 9/2 at Rice, 9/16 at San Diego State. 11/25 Notre Dame
Stanford should have no trouble with Rice in the opener, but games against San Diego State and Notre Dame could get tricky, especially if the Irish rebound strongly from a massively disappointing season.

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