Jim Harbaugh did a great job in his first year on the job getting his team ready to play each week. Depth being what it was the Cardinal wore down quickly as a large number of injuries hit the team.
Rebuilding the program at Stanford is a huge job, but the new stadium they opened last season is a big step toward getting the program back on its collective feet. Harbaugh needs to pick up some wins so the fans start returning to the farm. Husky fans who were in attendance last season probably outnumbered the Cardinal faithful.
Starting with offense ex Clover Park HS QB Tavita Pritchard led the Cardinal to a victory over USC, but the quarterback will have some competition from Alex Loukas and Michigan transfer Jason Forcier.
So who is the quarterback going to throw to? Bradford and Moore were great receivers when healthy. Junior Richard Sherman led the team with 651 receiving yards and four touchdowns, but the experience behind him is pretty much non-existent. Sophomores Doug Baldwin and Ryan Whalen and incoming freshman Chris Owusu will have to be ready to play big roles for the offense.
While the passing attack sorts itself out, running back Anthony Kimble will have to carry the offense. He only rushed for 509 yards last season, but Kimble could have a decent season behind an experienced offensive line. The return of Toby Gerhart, who only played in one game last season due to injury, will give the backfield some more weapons.
The defense has nine starters returning to the unit in 2008. Linebacker Clinton Snyder is coming off a great year in which he tallied 96 tackles, eight sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. The junior is expected to become even more of a leader on the field now that he is an upperclassman.
With Pat Maynor and Chike Amajoyi also back, the linebacker corps will be in pretty good shape. Amajoyi was a kid that Washington really wanted, and he is going to mature into a pretty good player.
Safety Bo McNally will lead the secondary. Corner Nick Sanchez needs to be replaced, but Stanford has Kris Evans, Corey Gatewood and Wopamo Osaisai who are more than capable enough to hold down the two spots.
The defensive line returns three starters, but inexperience at tackle could cause some problems down the road.
How do you beat Stanford?
You knock them out of the game early and don't let them hang around. It also helps if you schedule them in November when they are running out of players. UW didn't exactly dominate the Cardinal last year on the scoreboard, but a W is a W.
Most teams in the Pac Ten should beat Stanford because they have more overall talent and depth. Harbaugh has been recruiting extremely well and over the next couple of years the Cardinal should be back to full strength.
For Stanford to surprise in 2008 they need to avoid the rash of injuries that have plauged them over the last couple of years. Harbaugh has them playing inspired ball, but they simply keep running out of players by mid season.
What Do I Think?
Washington should never lose to Stanford, especially at home, but Willingham and company did exactly that two years ago when the Cardinal pulled off an unlikely upset during the worst season of their history. That loss started the negative drum roll on the shores of Montlake for Ty's head, and it prevented Washington from finishing the season at .500.
Jim Harbaugh is on the right track, and can steal a win from anyone as we saw when they upset USC last year, but Jake Locker isn't going to allow that.
Washington will have no problem scoring on these guys, and the Stanford offense will continue to sputter until they build a competent running game. Going into the season I would predict the Huskies to be a 17 point favorite in this game.
Hopefully it won't end up being our first victory of the year after opening with Oregon, BYU, and Oklahoma.