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Previewing Christian McCaffrey and the Stanford offense

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Yeah, he’s still good.

NCAA Football: Oregon State at Stanford Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Between the revolving door at quarterback and health issues with one time Heisman hopeful Christian McCaffrey, it’s been a year to forget for the Cardinal on offense. The most embarrassing game had to have been against Colorado where even though the defense held the Buffaloes to ten points and got a safety, they still lost after the Cardinal offense put up just a field goal.

The leader:

Again with the weird names for titles of the Stanford coaches. While we name buildings after our Heisman quarterback apparently they name coordinators after theirs. Mike Bloomgren is the “Andrew Luck Director of Offense”. Previously he worked with the Cardinal offensive line and pumped out players one by one to the NFL. It’s very typical Stanford that we’ll see on offense. Jumbo packages, extra linemen, and the ball in the hands of McCaffrey.

Stats:

This is a team with just nine passing touchdowns on the year and seven rushing touchdowns. The rotating door at quarterback has been a tough one for this team to handle. I think Kevin Hogan is looking back and laughing for being underlooked for all those years. So far the Cardinal are putting up an average of 19.89 points per game with those stats being padded by the game against Arizona and then early on against USC.

Looking at the yardage it’s clear that Stanford will run the ball all game. I honestly don’t expect them to throw more than 10 passes against the Ducks. Staford averages a steady 175 per game on the ground while putting up an abysmal 142 per game throwing. They’re a little better than I expected on third downs, coverting about 41% of the time and then 50% on fourth downs. On 21 trips to the redzone this season they’ve scored on 17 of those with touchdowns on nine.

Last year it was actually Kevin Hogan who picked apart the Ducks defense. Hogan on 37 attempts threw for 304 yards and two touchdowns. McCaffrey was held relatively in check going for 147 rushing yards on 33 attempts.

Three players to watch:

Christian McCaffrey, #5, junior running back, 6' 0", 200 lbs.

He’s been a little banged up this year but he’s still the obvious choice for a player to watch from this defense. McCaffrey is still averaging 122.5 per game rushing. What’s different to me from last year is that team’s are clearly not giving him much of a chance to return anything as he has yet to score a touchdown.

Keller Chryst, #10, junior quarterback, 6' 5", 236 lbs.

The Cardinal finally pulled the plug on Ryan Burns and his seven interceptions and went to Chryst as the starter agains the Beavers. Not much changed through the air as Chryst threw ten completions on 17 attempts for 60 yards. What did change was with the quarterback running attack. On 11 attempts, Chryst managed to put up 83 yards.

Conrad Ukropina, #34, senior kicker, 6’ 1”, 240 lbs.

For the first time this season I’m talking about a kicker as a player to watch. With a team that can’t get into the endzone, Ukropina is a huge weapon. He’s been solid this year connecting on 14 of his 18 field goals. Impressively he’s connected on six field goals beyond 40 yards with a long of 52.