Stanford lost quite a few key contributors off last year’s juggernaut of a team that capped a 12-2 season with a 45-16 romp over Iowa in the Rose Bowl.
Thirteen starters have moved on.
But Cardinal fans need not fear.
“The depth we have is scary,’’ Stanford coach David Shaw said Thursday in a Bay Area Media Day session at Levi’s Stadium in a reference to his defense. “It’s young and the whole group is so fun to coach.’’
Peter Kalambayi is a returning standout at outside linebacker.
"(Defensive lineman) Harrison Phillips missed the whole season last year,'' Kalambayi said. "He's back and we have a lot of other athletes across the board, two or three deep. It will be good to see how it manifests itself.''
As far as the offense goes … Christian McCaffrey is back after turning in one of the most dominant seasons in college football history.
That’s a nice place to start. McCaffrey rushed for 2,019 yards had 1,200 kick-return yards and led the team in receptions to boot. The plan is to work in speedster Bryce Love at running back on a more regular basis as a complement to McCaffrey.
Michael Rector, after considering making himself eligible for the NFL draft, decided to come back to Stanford for another year.
“I thought about it for a long time,’’ Rector said. “It was a hard decision. I woke up one day and decided to come back to school. Stanford has done so much for me. Why choose to leave early if I don’t have to? Come back and help the team reach new heights.’’
Shaw is delighted to have Rector as a skill-position weapon along with McCaffrey and Love.
“With Rector coming back we have three sub-4.4 40 guys,’’ Shaw said. “We’re just scratching the surface of what we can do.’’
The battle for the starting quarterback job is a dead heat between former Palo Alto High standout Keller Chryst and Ryan Burns going into fall practice, which begins Aug. 5. .
Shaw was asked to characterize the two:
“They are very similar,’’ he said. "Both are hard workers, both are strong-armed, both are very athletic. Both are NFL prototypes, can make all the NFL throws -- deep sideline throws, throws to the back of the end zone.’’
With all the talent around them neither will be asked to win it all on their own.
“We’ve got to evaluate these quarterbacks and determine what they’re ready for,’’ Shaw said. “How do we get the ball in (McCaffrey’s) hands? The quarterback’s job will be just to deal the cards, just get the ball out of your hands into the playmaker’s hands.’’