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Oregon Football

2020 Season Preview: Stanford Offense

October 17, 2020
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The Oregon Ducks will kick off 2020 in just over three weeks when they welcome the Stanford Cardinal to Autzen Stadium.

Simply put, “This ain’t your daddy’s Stanford.” The Cardinal are coming off a disappointing 4-8 record in 2019, when it won just three conference games. Additionally, the Cardinal are almost completely unrecognizable compared to the run-first teams that earned David Shaw three Pac-12 championships.

Further threatening the continuity in Palo Alto, 11 players transferred in the off-season, and two others remain in the portal. Gone are such familiar names as Colby Parkinson, KJ Costello and Walker Little. 

Traditionally known for bruising offensive line play, the Cardinal leaned more on the pass last season. Stanford finished fourth in the Pac-12 with 262.4 yards per game through the air. Consequently, the former Pac 12 powerhouse finished 11th in the conference in overall rushing attacks, averaging 105.5 rushing yards per game.

The 4-8 record may not imply a talented team, but Stanford has some weapons that should merit Andy Avalos’ attention. Let’s take a look at some names to watch in Week 1.

Davis Mills, quarterback 

A Cardinal strength for decades, quarterback play has been uncharacteristically mediocre since the days of Kevin Hogan. Players like Keller Chryst and KJ Costello (now throwing lots of interceptions at Mississippi State) failed to steady the ship.

Last season wasn’t particularly strong for Mills, as the former 5-star prep threw for less than 2,000 yards. He recorded 11 touchdowns against 5 interceptions on 65.6% completions. 

Shaw also tried junior Jack West, who appeared in two games and started one. West finished with 143 yards on 15 of 32 passing.

The Cardinal have added Air Force transfer Isaiah Sanders, but he threw fewer than 100 passes in three seasons at the service academy.

Expect senior Mills to be the starter.

Austin Jones, running back

The sophomore finished second on the team in rushing in 2019 with 227 yards on 45 carries, with 1 touchdown. He also accounted for 108 yards on 14 receptions.  

Jones, who played in all 12 games, had his best outing against Notre Dame. He finished with 117 all-purpose yards.

With the departure of Cameron Scarlett, Jones is clearly the next man up. He’s a great pound-for-pound back who has a very well-rounded game.

Connor Wedington, wide receiver

The senior has been an athletic weapon for Tavita Pritchard’s offense in his three seasons on The Farm. Wedington exhibits good short-area quickness, and that serves him well in the return game. 

The team’s second-leading wide receiver last year, Wedington hauled in 51 passes for 506 yards and 1 touchdown, good for 9.9 yards per catch. He’s a great quick-twitch guy who is a tough to tackle in open space.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAO6InOu0ZI 

Michael Wilson, wide receiver

The team’s leading receiver a season ago returns to Palo Alto with a solid body of work in just two seasons. Wilson is already approaching 1,000 career receiving yards -- a notable accomplishment in an offense that is often dominated by NFL-ready tight ends.

In 2019, the No. 42 wide receiver in the 2018 recruiting class accounted for 56 receptions, 672 yards and 5 touchdowns. And he looks capable of building off that success.

At 6-2 and 211 pounds, Wilson is a speedy playmaker who could also figure into the run game.

Osiris St. Brown, wide receiver

St. Brown is the middle child in a trio of exceptional sibling wideouts. His older brother, Equanimeous, plays for the Green Bay Packers, while Amon-Ra is square in the conversation for the best receiver in the Pac 12.

In 2019, St. Brown appeared in 12 games, six of them as a starter, and he caught 27 passes, good for 263 yards.

Tucker Fisk, tight end

With Parkinson now on the Seattle Seahawks, Stanford needs someone to step up at the position. FIsk appeared in 11 games and made one start in 2019. 

Fisk wasn’t targeted a whole lot, reeling in just 4 catches for 30 yards. However, he is on the preseason watch list for the John Mackey Award, given to the nation’s best tight end. 

Scooter Harrington, tight end

Harrington appeared in all 12 games in 2019 but started just one. He had a final stat line of 4 catches for 23 yards.

Top incoming recruits

Myles Hinton, offensive tackle

Greater Atlanta Christian in Norcross (Ga.).

6-7, 310 pounds.

4-star (0.9662 on the 247Sports Composite), No. 74 nationally. No. 6 tackle, No. 9 player in Georgia

After losing Walker Little to the NFL, there’s an opening on the offensive line. Hinton could see some time early on.

EJ Smith, running back

Jesuit High in Dallas (Texas).

6-0, 192 pounds.

4-star (0.9515 on the Composite).

No. 109 nationally, No. 2 all-purpose back, No. 15 in Texas.

With Scarlett out of eligibility, the Cardinal are likely looking for a change-of-pace back to complement Jones. Emmitt Smith’s son could be the guy.

 
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