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Four-Down Territory: Stanford vs. San Jose St.

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Stanford has many big names on the interior of their defense at all three levels, but the cornerbacks have yet to make themselves known. Be sure to watch them this Saturday against San Jose State. Photo by Tony Medina/Getty Images.
Stanford has many big names on the interior of their defense at all three levels, but the cornerbacks have yet to make themselves known. Be sure to watch them this Saturday against San Jose State. Photo by Tony Medina/Getty Images.

First Down 

They are who we thought they were.

Stanford needs to show everyone just how big of a threat they are. The nation’s eye may be fixed on them even more because of their late start. The Cardinal have gotten the hype about their defense all offseason, and I suspect Ron Caragher will be thinking about this speech at the end of the game. San Jose State’s David Fales will present a reasonable challenge. Last year’s game was a close 20-17 Stanford victory.

Fales is talented, and though his surrounding cast is underwhelming, he makes them look better. Ed Reynolds and Jordan Richards should anchor the back of the defense. The position with the least amount of experience is cornerback, but players like Wayne Lyons should re-instill confidence. Stanford linebackers have a similar test in San Jose State’s Jason Simpson. He rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries last week against Sacramento State. San Jose State’s offense looks like they will be a good team to bring Stanford up to game speed. The Spartans are good not great.

Second Down   

Who will emerge as offensive leaders?

Yes, there’s Kevin Hogan. But who will star in conjunction to Hogan? I’ve discussed replacing the absences of Stepfan Taylor and Zach Ertz in previous articles. All the conjecture will dissolve when these question-mark players cleat up. Will Anthony Wilkerson play a Toby Gerhardt roll this season? Or will Tyler Gaffney (and/or Barry Sanders Jr.) bring a change of pace to the Cardinal’s typical bruising running style? Or, more likely, will it be some combination of both? Similar questions remain at wide receiver and tight end. I look forward to seeing this group of pass catchers. Jack Blanchat from SB Nation Rule of Tree said they’re more massive and athletic than ever.

Third Down     

Breakout Candidates

The names to watch for this weekend on offense: Michael Rector, Kelsey Young and Tyler Gaffney. And on defense: Wayne Lyons, James Vaughters, Aziz Shittu, David Parry.

Fourth Down    

Game Prediction

Kevin Hogan will pass for 250 yards and three touchdowns in this warmup game. Tyler Gaffney will get 20 carries for a touchdown and more than 100 yards. Anthony Wilkerson will account for 10 more carries of his own. The defense should stump Fales and hold San Jose State to 10 points with three  takeaways and a touchdown to boot.

Final Score: Stanford 35, San Jose State 10.