Aug. 1, 2003
THE CARDINAL: Stanford returns 38 letterwinners and 13 starters in 2003, including eight starters on defense, three on offense and both kickers. The Cardinal, which welcomes freshman to The Farm on August 7, begins practice for the full squad on Monday, August 11. Stanford opens the 2003 campaign with a home game vs. San Jose State on September 6. The Cardinal then plays three difficult road games at BYU, Washington and USC before returning home on October 18.
THE SCHEDULE: Stanford will play 11 games in 2003 and will once again face one of the toughest schedules in college football. The Cardinal, which had the sixth toughest schedule in the nation in 2002, will play eight bowl teams in 2003, including home games with Washington State, UCLA, Arizona State and Notre Dame and road games at Washington, USC, Oregon and Oregon State. The only three opponents on this year's schedule that did not play in a bowl game in 2002 are San Jose State, BYU and Cal. Stanford will also have two bye weeks this season (September 13, October 4), play three of its first four games on the road and four of its last five at home.
WHO'S BACK: Stanford returns eight starters on defense, three on offense and both kickers. Returning starters on defense include DT Amon Gordon and Louis Hobson, OLB Jon Alston and David Bergeron, MLB Jake Covault, CB Stanley Wilson and Leigh Torrence and SS Oshiomogho Atogwe. On offense, returners starters include LT Kirk Chambers, TE Alex Smith and QBs Chris Lewis and Kyle Matter. P Eric Johnson and PK Michael Sgroi also return for the Cardinal in 2003.
BY THE NUMBERS: Almost half of Stanford's 2003 roster is made up of true or redshirt freshman. In fact, 47 of the Cardinal's 95 players on its roster are true (30) or redshirt freshman (17). Stanford will lose just 14 players off this year's team in 2004, including just four players on defense. The Cardinal's roster, as is usually the case, is made up of players from across the country. Stanford's roster includes players from 25 states and two countries (U.S. and Canada). Only 28 of the the Cardinal's 95 players are from California while 25 are from the Southern states of Georgia, Florida, Louisianna, Tennessee and Mississippi.
THE HEAD COACH: Forty-six year old Buddy Teevens begins his second season at Stanford after being named the Cardinal's head coach on January 9, 2002. Teevens' 23-year career prior to coming to Stanford included 12 as a head coach. A 1979 graduate of Dartmouth College, he had previously held the head coaching position at the University of Maine, Dartmouth and Tulane. Teevens spent three seasons at Florida (1999-2001) working under Steve Spurrier. Teevens was the head coach at Maine for two years (1985-86), Dartmouth for five years (1987-91) and at Tulane for five seasons (1992-96).
QB SITUATION: A year ago, Chris Lewis entered the 2002 campaign as the team's bonafide starter. But, injuries and an early season NCAA violation limited Lewis' playing time to just five games, allowing redshirt freshman Kyle Matter to start six games and gain valuable experience. Lewis had off-season shoulder surgery and is now 100 percent as he competes with Matter and redshirt freshman Trent Edwards for the starting nod in '03. Now in his fifth season at Stanford, Lewis has thrown for 3,168 yards and 25 touchdowns while playing in 21 games and starting 12 during his career. He will be pushed by Matter, who was thrust into the starting assignment last season when Lewis was unable to play. Matter completed 116-of-214 for 1,219 yards in 2002 and his added maturity, experience and knowledge will be an asset to the Cardinal offense. Edwards, a redshirt freshman from Los Gatos High School in the Bay Area, came to Stanford a year ago as the No. 1 prep quarterback in the country. He enjoyed an outstanding spring and has put himself in position to compete for the starting job. "It's one of the most competitive positions on the team," says Teevens. "We need to improve our quarterback play in 2003."
EXPERIENCE ON DEFENSE: One of the strengths of the 2003 Cardinal is its overall experience on defense. While three starters off last year's team have departed, eight starters and 21 letterwinners are back, including nine of the team's top 10 tacklers. Stanford returns its top six linebackers from a year ago, four of its top five in the secondary, two starters on the line and five others who received significant playing time at tackle and end. The Cardinal started 19 different players on defense in 2002 -and 15 of them are back in '03 ŠListed below are players who started at least one game a year ago: DE Louis Hobson (8 starts), DT Amon Gordon (7), DE Will Svitek (3), DE Julian Jenkins (1), NT Babatunde Oshinowo (1), OLB David Bergeron (10), OLB Jon Alston (5), OLB Michael Craven (4), OLB Jared Newberry (3), MLB Jake Covault (9), MLB Brian Gaffney (2), CB Leigh Torrence (11), CB Stanley Wilson (11) and SS Oshiomogho Atogwe (11).
POWELL'S PLAY: A healthy Luke Powell is good news for the Cardinal offense. Last season, one of the most dangerous players in college football was slowed much of the year with an ankle injury. Powell is now healthy and ready to assume his place as one of the top play-makers in the country. A former First-Team All-American (as a KOR in 2001), Powell enters his final season at Stanford sporting an impressive 18.8 yards per reception average, which is third all-time at Stanford. He has caught 83 passes for 1,560 yards and 11 touchdowns and is the only player in school history to have three touchdown receptions of 75 yards or more.He also has 16 catches over 30 yards in his career, which include two from 50-59 yards and two others from 60-69 yards. As a kick returner, he is among the school's all-time best in punt returns (47), punt return yards (553) and punt return average (11.8).
CAPTAIN KIRK: The leader of the Cardinal's offensive line is also the only player with starting experience - senior Kirk Chambers. With a young and inexperienced offensive line in 2003, Chambers is the unquestioned leader of a group that will need his maturity and knowledge to help it develop into a quality unit. Chambers, who is the oldest player on the team at 24, has started all 34 games in his Cardinal career and is attempting to do what few players in school history have accomplished - and that's to start every game. He has been the team's No. 1 left tackle the past three seasons (2000-02). After an All-American prep career at Provo High School, Chambers signed with Stanford then spent the 1998 and '99 seasons on a Mormon Mission in Berlin, Germany. He married Marilyn Ord on June 23, 2001 and the couple gave birth to their first child, Marianne Deniece, on July 7, 2003.
O-LINE STORY: The story of the Cardinal's offensive line can be summed up in one word: young.Senior Kirk Chambers will be back at left tackle for his fourth season in the starting lineup, but the remaining candidates to earn starting spots are young and inexperienced. Here are the hard facts: of the 16 offensive lineman on the Stanford's roster, 12 (five true freshman, seven redshirt freshman) have never played for the Cardinal, two have seen limited playing time (senior Mike Sullivan and sophomore Brian Head) and one (senior Drew Caylor) has received some playing time as an offensive lineman, but has been a defensive lineman the past two years.
TIGHT END TRIO: While Brett Pierce and Matt Traverso suffered through injury-riddled seasons a year ago, junior Alex Smith came to the forefront and put together an outstanding season (30 receptions, 380 yards, two TDs) as the team's only true tight end in 2002.Now, both Pierce (ACL) and Traverso (ankle) are healthy and, combined with Smith, gives the Cardinal a quality trio of tight ends. Pierce caught 19 balls for 258 yards and three touchdowns in 2001, but suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter of the season opener last year at Boston College. Both Pierce and Smith have received pre-season recognition this year as being among the top tight ends in the conference.
LINEBACKER CORPS: The Cardinal returns its top six linebackers from a year ago and will begin the 2003 campaign with an experienced, season corps from which to choose. Both OLB positions and the MLB spot will be very competitive. For the record, Stanford returns all three starters in OLBs Jon Alston and David Bergeron (moved to MLB for 2003) and MLB Jake Covault. However, all six returnees spent time in the starting lineup last year. So. Michael Craven, Jr. Jared Newberry and Sr. Brian Gaffney will be in the hunt for starting roles in 2003. "We have some depth and experience at the linebacker positions," says Teevens. "A year ago, they were a young, inexperienced group. Now, we expect them to play like seasoned veterans."
RUNNING GAME: Junior Kenneth Tolon is the team's top returning rusher (692 yards, 7 TDs, 5.8 ypc) while sophomore J.R. Lemon is the only other back to receive playing time. The Cardinal will also need a fullback to emerge to replace four-year starter Casey Moore. The leading candidates are senior Cooper Blackhurst and sophomore Kris Bonifas. "We need to run the ball more effectively to improve as an offense," says Teevens.