Aug. 25, 2000
THE CARDINAL: Stanford opens defense of its 1999 Pacific-10 Conference championship with a key conference matchup at Washington State on Saturday (Sept. 2) ... The Cardinal, which beat WSU last year 54-17 at Stanford to open its conference schedule, has won the last two meetings with the Cougars and seven of the last eight dating back to the 1990 season ... Stanford has not opened the season with a Pac-10 road game since 1993 (31-14 loss at Washington) ... Saturday's game also marks the first of three consecutive night games for the Cardinal (7 pm vs. San Jose State, 7:15 pm vs. Texas)
LEADERS OF THE PAC: The Cardinal won the Pac-10 title last season with a 7-1 conference mark, the best at Stanford since the 1940 team went 7-0 ... Stanford won its last two conference games in 1998 and enters the 2000 season having won nine of its last 10 Pac-10 games - two of which have come against Washington State ... Stanford won its first five league games last year before losing its only conference game of the year to Washington (35-30 on Oct. 30).
FOR OPENERS: Stanford is 3-2 in Pac-10 openers under Tyrone Willingham (1995-99) and 2-3 in openers for all games ... The Cardinal beat WSU to open the 1999 conference season ... In season opening road games, Stanford is 1-1 under Willingham, including a win at San Jose State in '95 and a loss at Texas last year ... The last time Stanford began a season with a conference win on the road was a 35-25 win at Oregon to open the 1980 campaign.
LET'S REVIEW: Stanford's 1999 season will go down in history as one of the best ever on The Farm ... A year ago, the Cardinal finished 8-4 overall and 7-1 in the Pac-10 after winning the conference title and playing in its first Rose Bowl since the 1971 season ... It was Stanford's eighth conference championship in school history, 12th appearance in the Rose Bowl and 19th bowl game ... FL Troy Walters was not only a consensus First-Team All-America, but he was named winner of the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver ... Head coach Tyrone Willingham was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year for the second time in five seasons and seven members of the Cardinal were named First-Team All-Pac-10 - the most ever by Stanford in a single season.
HEAD COACH TYRONE WILLINGHAM: Now in his sixth season at the helm of the Cardinal football program, Tyrone Willingham has the longest tenure on The Farm since John Ralson's nine-year run from 1963-71 ... Willingham enters the '00 season with an overall record of 30-27-1 ... His resume during his first five years at Stanford includes three bowl games, two Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors (1995, '99), a Pac-10 championship and a Rose Bowl appearance ... Willingham previously held assistant coaching positions at Central Michigan ('78-79), Michigan State (1980-82), North Carolina State (1983-85), Rice (1986-88), Stanford (1989-91) and the Minnesota Vikings (1992-94) ... He first came to Stanford as the running backs coach under Dennis Green in 1989, then returned to The Farm as as head coach to replace Bill Walsh on November 28, 1994.
HIGH-SCORING SERIES: The Stanford-WSU series has become one of the most explosive in the Pac-10 in recent years ... Last year's 54-17 Cardinal victory proved to be another in the long line of high-scoring affairs ... The winning team has scored more than 30 points in each of the last nine games and 16 of the last 17 ... In the last nine games - in which the Cardinal is 7-2 vs. WSU - the two teams have combined to average over 56 points per game (35.8 for Stanford, 20.7 for WSU) ... In last year's game, Stanford's 37- point victory was the team's largest since a 38-0 Sun Bowl win over Michigan State in 1996 ... Stanford scored 38 points in the first half and scored on offense, defense and special teams en route to the highest point total in a conference opener in school history.
THE RUNNING GAME: Stanford's rushing game improved dramatically from 1998 to '99 as its yards gained and touchdowns scored numbers doubled ... The Cardinal rushed for 831 yards and scored just 11 rushing TDs in '98, but saw those numbers increase to 1,690 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns in '99 ... And in 2000, the Cardinal may have the tools to keep those numbers on the rise ... The entire running back corps is back, although Coy Wire has been shifted to strong safety ...RB Brian Allen (115-658-4), RB Kerry Carter (87-341-6) and FB Casey Moore (23-190-4) are expected to lead the rushing attack, but backup RB Justin Faust (redshirt in '99) and FBs Byron Glaspie and Emory Brock give the Cardinal a solid group behind the line.
WHO'S INSIDE: A key question heading into the 2000 season was who would emerge as replacements for two-year starters Marc Stockbauer and Sharcus Steen at inside linebacker ...Stockbauer and Steen took most of the snaps in 1998 and '99 and were among the team leaders in tackles ... The leading candidates to earn the starting sports are also the only two players who have game experience - seniors Anthony Gabriel and Matt Friedrichs ... Both have been reserves and special teams players the past two years and both have two years of eligiblity remaining ... Other candidates who will battle for the starting spot and will likely see playing time early in the season include sophomore Cooper Blackhurst, who is returning from a Mormon Mission, sophomores Brian Gaffney, Jake Covault and Brian Brant, who all redshirted as true freshman in 1999, and true freshman Amon Gordon, a 6-4, 280-pounder who was one of the nation's top recruits this year.
THE TRENCH DOGS: Who are the "Trench Dogs" and what does it mean??? ... Led by senior tackle Willie Howard, the Trench Dogs are a nickname given to Stanford's defensive line ... Before and after each practice and game, you can see the Trench Dogs wearing chains around their necks as they walk to and from the field ... Stanford's defensive line, which is expected to be the strongest on The Farm in recent years, returns all but one player off last year's team ...Returning starters include Howard at tackle, ends Sam Benner and Austin Lee and key reserves Matt Leonard and Marcus Hoover at end and Travis Pfeifer at tackle ... Led by the Trench Dogs, Stanford finished second in the Pac-10 a year ago with 46 quarterback sacks.
WIDE RECEIVER REVIEW: The Cardinal's receiving corps last year entered the season ranked among the best groups in college football ... One publication picked Stanford's receiving corps as the second best in the nation ... This season, the Cardinal will be led by senior DeRonnie Pitts, who is among the school's all-time best in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdown, and a group of young and inexperienced players ... Graduation of Stanford's all-time leading receiver (Troy Walters) and two early departures (Dave Davis, Tafiti Uso) have provided opportunites for young players to step in to the rotaton ... Along with Pitts, who has caught 145 passes for 2,060 yards in his career, junior Ryan Wells will hold down a starting spot at one wide receiver position ... Others in the mix for playing time include senior Jamien McCullum, junior Caleb Bowman and sophomore Luke Powell ... Other that Pitts, Stanford receivers have caught nine balls as a group ... Wells has five receptions for 72 yards, McCullum has three receptions for 22 yards and Bowman has one catch for seven yards ... Powell redshirted last season.
UP FRONT: While Stanford returns three starters from last year's offensive line, the Cardinal still has the daunting task of replacing C Mike McLaughlin and LT Jeff Cronshagen, both First-Team All-Conference picks ... Returning starters include OG Eric Heitmann, OG Zack Quaccia and RT Greg Schindler ... Heitmann, an honors candidate in '00, started all 12 games a year ago at right guard and was named honorable mention All-Pac-10 ... Quaccia may find himself starting at either left guard or center ... Along with Quaccia, sophomore Mike Holman may find himself as the team's starting center ... Junior Paul Weinacht can play guard or tackle and will compete for starting assignments at both positions ... At left tackle, 21-year old freshman Kirk Chambers has returned from his two-year Mormon Mission and is in the mix to earn the starting berth.
LINEUP CARD: The loss of 10 starters from last season's Rose Bowl team will give several new names a chance to grab the spotlight in 2000 ... Senior QB Randy Fasani heads the list as he jumps into the starting lineup for the first time ... Other first time starters include WR Ryan Wells, CB Ryan Fernandez, ILBs Anthony Gabriel and Matt Friedrichs, Craig Albrecht or Trey Freeman at nose tackle and offensive line candidates Paul Weinacht, Kirk Chambers or Mike Holman.
QB DEBUT: Junior Randy Fasani will make his collegiate debut as a starting quarterback on Saturday at WSU ... He follows two-year starters Todd Husak (1998, '99), now with the Washington Redskins, and Chad Hutchinson (1996, '97), who is now a pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals organization ... As a true freshman in 1997, Fasani was one of four QBs on a team that included Husak, Hutchinson and Joe Borchard, now playing in the Chicago White Sox organization ... In their starting debuts, Hutchinson lost a 17-10 decision against Utah in 1996 while Husak lost a 35-23 decision to San Jose State in 1998 ... The last Cardinal QB to win in his starting debut was Mark Butterfield in 1995 (47-33 at San Jose State in Tyrone Willingham's first game as Cardinal head coach).
HOWARD RACKS UP PRESEASON HONORS: Fifth-year senior DT Willie Howard enters the 2000 campaign as one of the most highly touted defensive linemen in the nation ... The Bay Area native (Mountain View) was named a First-Team Preseason All-American by Athlon and Second Team Preseason All-American by Street & Smith's, who ranked him as the fourth best defensive lineman in the country ... Howard was also on The Sporting News' and Street & Smith's lists of Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award candidates ... Howard, who has started in all 34 games in his three seasons, was predicted to be the Pac-10's Defensive Player of the Year by The Sporting News ... Last season, Howard emerged as the leader - both on and off the field - of Stanford's defensive line unit known as the "Trenchdogs" ... Howard finished third in the Pac-10 in both quarterback sacks (10, -60 yards) and tackles-for-loss (19, -79 yards) in '99, in addition to recording 54 tackles (29 unassisted) ... He was the catalyst of a front line that was significantly better against the rush, allowing 147.9 yards per game compared to 180.6 yards per contest in '98 ... His 10 sacks - along with the 13 recorded by outside linebacker Riall Johnson - helped the Cardinal nearly double its quarterback sack output from the previous year (46 - '99, 28 - '98) ... Howard recorded five tackles, including one for a loss in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin, despite playing with ACL damage and an MCL sprain to his right knee that was suffered in the regular season finale against Notre Dame just five weeks earlier ... As a sophomore in '98, Howard was named Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 after recording 53 tackles and 5.5 sacks, and in his freshman season he had 28 tackles and two sacks at nose tackle ... Howard enters the 2000 season with 31 career tackles-for-loss (-131 yards) and 17.5 sacks (-100 yards).
PITTS TAKES PLACE IN CARDINAL RECORD BOOK: Senior wide receiver DeRonnie Pitts begins the season among the school's all-time top-10 in career receptions, receiving yardage and receiving touchdowns ... Playing behind 1999 Biletnikoff Award winner Troy Walters made Pitts the team's #2 receiver ... But, in 2000, Pitts now assumes the role as the Cardinal's top wideout ... For his career, Pitts is sixth in Stanford history in touchdown receptions (16), eighth in receptions (145) and 10th in receiving yards (2,060) ... By the time the 2000 season is complete, Pitts will likely be second or third in every receiving category in the Cardinal record book ... Pitts can make his first move on Sept. 2, as he needs just two receptions to pass veteran NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey (1986-90) for seventh on the all-time list ... In the last two seasons alone, Pitts has caught 132 passes for 1,865 yards and 15 touchdowns ... His breakout season was '98 when he caught 74 passes, which is tied for the third highest single season total in school history, for 1,012 yards and seven touchdowns ... The 1,012 yards still ranks as the fifth best single season total in Stanford history ... Pitts' recent accomplishments have been well noticed as he enters the 2000 campaign as a Preseason First-Team All-Pac-10 selection by several publications and an honorable mention All-American by Street & Smith's ... He was ranked as the 18th best wide receiver in the nation by The Sporting News and 24th by Lindy's, and is on the "watch list" for the Biletnikoff Award.
BISELLI AIMS FOR LOU GROZA AWARD: Beginning his second season as Stanford's starting kicker, senior Mike Biselli (two years of eligibility remaining) is listed among the preseason candidates for the Lou Groza award, given annually to the nation's top placekicker ... In addition, The Sporting News ranked him No. 5 on their list of the nation's top placekickers while Lindy's tabbed him No. 8 nationally ... Biselli is coming off a First-Team All-Pac-10 season in '99 after connecting on 14-of-17 field goals and 49-of-52 PATs ... More impressively, he was 11-of-11 from inside the 40, as all three of his misses came from behind 45 yards ... His 91 points scored in '99 was the fifth highest single season total in school history, and he was second in the Pac-10 and 22nd in the nation in scoring (8.27 ppg) and second in the Pac-10 and 28th in the country in field goals (1.27 pg) ... He set a new Stanford record with 49 PATs in a season, and his 14 field goals tied for the seventh highest school single season total ... Biselli kicked the game-winning 22-yard field goal as time expired in the regular season finale vs. Notre Dame.
RIALL'S RUSH: The return of fifth-year senior OLB Riall Johnson gives Stanford one of the most feared pass rushers in the nation ... The Cardinal also has one of the top 1-2 pass rush combos in the nation with Johnson and DT Willie Howard, who combined for 23 sacks last season ... Johnson, who was a Second Team All-Pac-10 selection last year, tied for the 1999 Pac-10 lead in sacks with 13 (-108 yards) ... He also ranked sixth in the conference in tackles for loss with 17 (-119 yards), to go along with 42 tackles (28 unassisted), two pass break-ups, one forced fumble and one safety ... Last season against Washington State, Johnson turned in the finest performance of his collegiate career with five sacks, seven tackles and a safety in the 54-17 win ... The five sacks nearly matched his entire '98 season total of six ... Johnson, who was moved from defensive end to outside linebacker prior to the '99 season, now has 21 career sacks (-161 yards) and 32 tackles-for-loss (-190 yards) ... He has been recognized as a first-team pre-season all-conference pick this year as well as being ranked among the best in the nation at his position ... The Sporting News tabbed Johnson No. 7 on their list of the nation's top outside linebackers while Lindy's had him at No. 14 ... Johnson's younger brother, Teyo, one of the nation's prized recruits, joins the Cardinal football program as a 6-7, 256-pound quarterback ... Teyo will also play basketball for Stanford.
FASANI GETS THE NOD: Senior QB Randy Fasani (two years of eligibility remaining) will get the first start of his collegiate career when the Cardinal opens the 2000 campaign at Washington State ... Fasani has appeared in 13 games off the bench at quarterback over the last two seasons, and is 9-of-22 for 94 yards with one touchdown and one interception in those contests ... Fasani came to Stanford after coming out of Del Oro High School (near Sacramento, California) as one of the top prep signal-callers in the country in 1996 ... He redshirted the '97 campaign, and then appeared in 10 games (mainly in goal line situations) in '98 ... He went 8-of-16 for 81 yards with an interception and a touchdown in those 10 games, and also rushed for three touchdowns to tie for the team lead in that category ... His most extensive playing time as a collegiate QB came at Notre Dame on Oct. 3, 1998 when he went 4-of-8 for 58 yards ... Fasani started the '99 season as the No. 3 quarterback behind Todd Husak (6th round pick of the Washington Redskins) and Joe Borchard ... Borchard, who was the No. 2 quarterback in '99, was selected in the first round of the June Amateur Baseball Draft (No. 12 overall) by the Chicago White Sox, and agreed to terms with the White Sox on July 28 (now with the Winston-Salem Warthogs in the class-A Carolina League) ... Prior to game #7 of the '99 season, Fasani was switched to inside linebacker in order to get his athleticism on the field ... In addition to his time at ILB, he also played extensively on special teams last season and has seen time at tight end each of the last two years ... Prior to moving to linebacker last October, Fasani saw time at quarterback in three games (at Texas, Washington State, San Jose State) and went 1-of-6 for 13 yards ... Fasani will be backed up by sophomore Chris Lewis, who redshirted in '99, and true freshmen Ryan Eklund and Teyo Johnson.
RUBEN CARTER ANCHORS SECONDARY: Senior CB Ruben Carter (two years of eligibility remaining), who was among the Pac-10 leaders in passes defensed despite missing two games to injury and not breaking into the starting lineup until mid-season, will once again be a key to the Stanford defensive backfield ... The '99 Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 selection took over the starting job at left corner in week #6 vs. Oregon State, and never looked back ... In nine games (missed San Jose State and Cal games due to injury), Carter was first on the team and sixth in the Pac-10 with an impressive 14 pass break-ups ... He also had 40 tackles (25 unassisted), and a pair of interceptions ... The first of those interceptions came against Washington State when Carter picked off a Cougar pass and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown ... The two interceptions in '99, coupled with his four as a redshirt freshman in '98, puts him just three shy of breaking into the school's all-time top 10.
CARDINAL GROUND ATTACK IS BACK: Stanford will be strong in the backfield once again in 2000, as it returns three players - RB Brian Allen, RB Kerry Carter and FB Casey Moore - who combined for 1,124 of the Cardinal's 1,690 yards on the ground in '99 (66.5 percent) ... Allen, who took over the starting job in mid-season, led the team with 604 yards and four touchdowns on 115 carries (5.3 ypc), and ranked eighth in the Pac-10 in rushing yards per game with 54.9 ... He rushed for 100-plus yards in back-to-back games at USC (15-121) and Washington (18-101) last year to become the first Cardinal to accomplish that feat since 1997 ... Carter burst onto the scene as a true freshman last season, and finished with 87 carries for 341 yards (3.8 ypc) and a team-high six rushing touchdowns ... He rushed for 69 yards and a score on nine carries in his collegiate debut at Texas, and scored three times in the win at Arizona two weeks later ... Moore, who is a junior with three years of eligibility remaining, established himself as one of the top young fullbacks in the nation in '99 ... In addition to his blocking prowess, Moore also rushed for 192 yards and two scores on 23 carries, including a Big Game record-setting 94-yard touchdown run vs. Cal.
NEW FACES: Stanford welcomes three new faces - one transfer and two players returning from Mormon missions - who could make immediate impacts in 2000 ... Junior NT Craig Albrecht (three years of eligilbility remaining) comes to Stanford from Northwestern ... He redshirted the '98 season for the Wildcats before transferring to The Farm and sitting out the '99 season due to NCAA regulations ... Freshman OT Kirk Chambers, who was one of the top prep linemen in the nation in '97, is battling for a starting job after missing '98 and '99 while on a Mormon mission in Berlin, Germany ... ILB Cooper Blackhurst redshirted in '98, before going on a one-year mission to Australia, and is expected to be a factor this season.