Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Stanford Is Poised To Win The Football National Championship This season (2018-19)

Many of my Stanford faculty colleagues routinely tweet about Stanford football.  So I decided to chime in with a longer post.

Stanford is off to great start in 2018.  Sports pundits are beginning to say that if Stanford beats Oregon and Notre Dame in weeks 4 and 5, Stanford could run the table and play for the national championship.

David Shaw is Stanford’s most accomplished football coach in school history.  Here is a summary from Wikipedia.

In his first three seasons, Shaw led the team to three consecutive BCS bowl games, including two Rose Bowls, a victory over Wisconsin in the 2012 seasons and heart-breaking loss to Michigan State in the next.

The 2015 season saw Shaw lead Stanford to its third Pac-12 championship in four years and huge win over Wisconsin in his third Rose Bowl in four years.  Shaw became only the third coach in Stanford history to win three conference titles and only the second coach to win two Rose Bowls.  A win over Cal in 2017 made Shaw the winningest coach in Stanford history.

Stanford is loaded on offense.  Quarterback K.J, Costello surpassed Heisman Trophy Winner Carson Palmer's passing records at Santa Margarita Catholic High School.

Bryce Love is the most accomplished running back in school history and Heisman Trophy Runner-Up.  He has the FBS record for most 50+ yards runs in a season (13), Stanford's record for rushing yards in a season (2,118 in 2017), Stanford record for rushing yards in a game (301 yards vs. Arizona State in 2017), and several other Stanford rushing records. Indeed, Love is one of the greatest single season rushers in football history.

Stanford has a great collection of wide receivers and tight ends, and an excellent offensive line to give Costello protection on pass plays.

The defense has been a pleasant surprise, limiting Southern Cal to a field goal.

What's not to like!

Coach Shaw is only missing a ring to join the select club of elite coaches.

One small addition to the offense can get Shaw a ring.  I've been watching Stanford football since 1971, dozens of games live and hundreds on television.  I've done postmortems with neighbors, colleagues, alumni, and read countless Twitter threads and Facebook posts.  There is widespread agreement that the only needed addition is: PLAY ACTION PASS ON FIRST DOWN.  Not on every series, but enough to loosen up the linebackers.

Coach Shaw's only perceived weakness is his stubborn conviction to a smash-mouth running attack, even though it puts his quarterback into too many third-and-long situations.  Shaw's great success with the running game makes it hard for him to incorporate a bit of the West Coast Offense into his playbook.    His assistant coaches won't tell him. His players won't tell him.  I'm not a football expert, nor are the thousands of faithful fans, but those fans are begging him to pass occasionally on first down.

Here's hoping!

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