Now in his third year as a starter, the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder from McLean, Va. has played exceptionally well at times. He is 16-3 as a starter, and has a 10-1 record versus opponents ranked in the AP top 25.
“You don’t need to get up for big games; It’ll just happen,” Hogan said. “The key is just not to play down to your opponents. The only team that can beat us is ourselves. That’s our mentality and that’s the way it’s going to be moving forward.”
Hogan is strong, tough and athletic, and has a knack for extending drives by running for first downs. Even in the run-first, smash-mouth offense employed by David Shaw, The Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football, Hogan has the arm strength to keep defenses honest with deep throws, something he demonstrated consistently last season.
“He’s got the second-highest completion percentage in the history of Stanford football,” said Shaw. “He’s got the second highest passer rating in the history of Stanford football. I’m talking about playing at a high level consistently, play after play, game after game.
“He’s just playing extremely well, hopefully to a point where he’s in that upper echelon of our conference. If you’re in the upper echelon of our conference – forget about the nation – he has the ability to play at that level. We’ve seen it in spurts and I want to see it more consistently. I need him to play at a really high level this year.”
In a conference stacked with dynamic quarterbacks, led by Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Brett Hundley of UCLA, Hogan often gets overshadowed. All he does is win.
“I’m completely fine with that,” Hogan said. “I think those guys would rather see their team succeed as well and they’re not worried about the individual accolades. I’m the same way and really don’t care about that stuff.”
Although he doesn’t read newspapers or listen to television analysts, Hogan has been named to the pre-season Maxwell, Davey O’Brien Award and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch lists. And while he plays on the West Coast, where many night games aren’t seen by East Coast viewers, Hogan will play in enough high-profile games this season to make a lasting impression, including Sept. 6 against USC, Oct. 4 at Notre Dame and Nov. 1 at Oregon.
Not the he or the team is looking that far ahead.
“Our first focus is UC Davis,” he said of the season-opener on Aug. 30. “That’s the way we trained in the off-season. By the time we start playing, we’re going to focus on the task at hand and not worry what’s down the road. It’s going to be fun going on the road playing a hard schedule, but that’s the challenge you want if you want to beat the best.”
Last year, Hogan threw for 2,630 yards and 20 touchdowns, and also rushed for 355 yards – third most in a single season by a Cardinal quarterback – and two scores. He sparked Stanford to an 11-3 record, a second-consecutive Pac-12 Championship, and back-to Rose Bowl appearances for the first time since 1970-71.
Hogan spent the summer taking classes in communications and engineering, and will complete his degree in Science, Technology and Society in the spring. He also honed his skills on the practice field.
“The big thing was getting out with the guys and throwing, footwork and studying the playbook,” said Hogan.
Asked where he has improved the most, Hogan said, “I’m much more comfortable with the offense. I don’t want to say I’ve mastered it, but I feel like I’m there right now. I’m really focusing on what’s going on on the defensive side of the ball that will help me play faster, and then something that I really wanted to work on was getting through my progressions quickly and on time and being able to find that check down.”
Hogan learned a lot observing Andrew Luck, one of the brightest young stars in the NFL. During Luck’s last season, Shaw gave him the freedom to audible on every play, depending what he saw from the defense. He’ll give Hogan some leeway as well this season.
“He’s not quite there yet,” said Shaw of Hogan. “That (Luck) was mastery of the offense and mastery of the quarterback position. That’s when as a coach, you take the keys out of your pocket and you hand them to the guy and say, ‘Go.’ Kevin gets to borrow the keys periodically, but I’m not giving him the keys just yet.”
Hogan has no complaints.
“I’ll do whatever he wants me to do,” Hogan said. “Whether it’s audibling or running a called play, I’ll do it.”
With four new starters on the offensive line, as well as first-year starters at running back and tight end, Hogan could be excused for having some anxiety. But that’s not the case.
“I’m very comfortable,” he said. “I’ve loved the practices we’ve had and we’ve been jelling really well. Everyone has been high-tempo, high-energy and doing the right things and just competing. I’m not worried.”
Admittedly, Hogan is not outspoken and leads by example. However, should his team need him to carry the early load this season, he’s all for it.
“Yea, I’d love that,” he said. “You want coaches to put more on you. I think I can handle it, so I’m excited for it.”
Stanford boasts one of the top receiving groups in the country led by Ty Montgomery, who caught 10 touchdown passes last season, Devon Cajuste, Kodi Whitfield, Michael Rector and Jordan Pratt. The speedy Rector averaged a nation-best 30.8 yards per catch, while Cajuste averaged nearly 23 yards per reception.
That said, Shaw will continue to feature a power running game, although Hogan hinted he might open up the offense more.
“We’ve been doing some new stuff,” said Hogan. “They added some wrinkles to the offense, which I think will help our style a little bit more with the playmakers we have on the outside, so I’m happy.”
After four-straight BCS appearances, the expectations are high at Stanford. Hogan insists players aren’t satisfied about what they have accomplished.
“It’s been nice to go to those BCS games, but we’re ready for the next step,” he said. “We want to win a Pac-12 Championship again, get into the playoffs, and compete for a national championship.”
Asked what he enjoys most about attending Stanford, Hogan said, “I’d say the community. Both athletically and being a student here. Everyone comes from completely different parts of the world and finds their niche here. I feel like we have probably the closest locker room in the country. Everyone gets along and is friends. That expands to the student-athlete community and the student body. Everyone takes care of each other, everyone is doing extraordinary things and it’s just great to be a part of it.”
Hogan and many teammates attend other sporting events on campus to support fellow student-athletes. He also appreciates how they carry themselves, no matter how much success they have achieved.“Absolutely, he said. “You have world-class athletes and Olympians who act just like normal student-athletes around here. It’s kind of the expectation and Stanford standard where you are almost expected to do great things. Everybody is very humbled by the Stanford athletic community and student body, whether it’s their academic fields or their sport. It’s a great culture because you stay grounded, but you’re still striving to be the best that you can be.”