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ASU Football Opponent Primer: Stanford Cardinal

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ASU and Stanford will go to battle for the first time since 2014

Stanford v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona State 2017 Schedule

New Mexico State (Aug. 31) — Read

San Diego State (Sept. 9) — Read

At Texas Tech (Sept. 16) — Read

Oregon (Sept. 23) — Read

At Stanford (Sept. 30)

Washington (Oct. 14)

At Utah (Oct. 21)

USC (Oct. 28)

Colorado (Nov. 4)

At UCLA (Nov. 11)

At Oregon State (Nov. 18)

Arizona (Nov. 25)

Stanford’s 2016 season

The 2016 Stanford Cardinal finished 10-3 and 6-3 in Pac-12 play. The Cardinal ended the season on 6-game win streak, including a 25-23 bowl victory over North Carolina. The Stanford offense averaged 26.3 ppg last season, which was 84th out of the 128 teams. The defense, however, only allowed 20.4 ppg which was 18th in the nation. Stanford’s biggest victories last season came against USC, UCLA, Washington, and Colorado.

Senior Ryan Burns won the starting quarterback job going into the season last year, then lost it during the season. Head coach David Shaw named senior Keller Chryst - who suffered a knee injury last season - as the starter heading into the 2017 season opener against Rice. Stanford will play ASU on Sept. 30, the first time the schools have played in nearly three years.

Key Returners

Quenton Meeks - Junior cornerback Quenton Meeks had a very productive sophomore season with 14 solo tackles (19 total), with two interceptions and one touchdown. As a junior, Meeks will be one of the leaders for this secondary unit which is projected to be one of the best, if not the best, in the country.

Trenton Irwin - Irwin was one of the main receivers for the Cardinal in 2016 and will step into a new role as a leader since the Cardinal lost Michael Rector due to graduation. Irwin has great hands and rarely drops a pass. He is also a sharp route runner and might be one of the best receivers in the Pac-12 in 2017.

Keller Chryst - Chryst was the second string quarterback heading into the 2016 season, but then won the starting job after the Cardinal suffered a 10-5 loss to Colorado. Chryst helped Stanford finish the season on a 6-game win streak including a win against North Carolina in the Sun Bowl. He finished the season with 905 passing yards 10 touchdowns and two interceptions and also ran for two touchdowns. Unfortunately, Chryst suffered a knee injury against North Carolina, but as long as his recovery goes as planned then Keller will be the starter for Week 1 against Rice.

Biggest Losses

RB Christian McCaffrey - McCaffrey is by far the biggest loss for the Cardinal heading into 2017. He was almost unstoppable, he was a game changer in so many different ways wether that be rushing, receiving, or even returning punts and kicks. He even threw for a touchdown against USC. He did it all. One of McCaffrey’s biggest accomplishments came when he was a true sophomore, breaking Barry Sanders’ single-season record for all-purpose yards (3,250 yards). McCaffrey is arguably one of the best players to ever play for the Stanford Cardinal.

DL Solomon Thomas - Thomas was selected third overall in this year’s draft by the San Francisco 49ers and was one of the most talented defensive linemen to ever come through Stanford. Some of Thomas’ most notable accomplishments include All Pac-12 first team, two-time Pac-12 player of the week, team high 62 tackles and 41 solo tackles, his game against UCLA when he had three tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, 42-yard fumble recovery for touchdown, the Sun Bowl against North Carolona when he had seven tackles, five solo, two tackles for loss and one sack, and C.M. Hendricks Most Valuable Player in the Sun Bowl.

Reasons for Optimism

If Stanford struggles to replace McCaffrey and Thomas and Chryst struggle coming back from his knee injury then the Sun Devils might actually make this a highly competitive game. ASU will need to find ways to move the ball through the air against this highly talented Stanford secondary and if the Sun Devils can find success through Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard, then ASU has a very strong chance at beating Stanford.

Reasons for Pessimism

Although Stanford lost Thomas, the Cardinal still have arguably one of the best secondaries in the country and if ASU can’t find ways to get the ball to N’Keal Harry, John Humphrey, or Jalen Harvey then the Sun Devils might be in trouble if they become one dimensional. Lastly, the game will be in Palo Alto so the Cardinal will have home field advantage, making it even more challenging for the Sun Devils to go into Stanford Stadium and pull out a victory.