2013 Game of the Year?

Players responsible for 312 of Stanford's 411 receiving and rushing yards against the Ducks in 2012 are gone in 2013, including this guy!

Running backs and receivers responsible for 313 of Stanford’s 411 yards against Oregon in 2012 are gone — including this guy!  (Photo courtesy of Kevin Cline)

Oregon vs. Stanford is the preseason pick for the Pac-12 game of the year, but will it still be by November 7?  Remember that last year it was Oregon/USC until USC forgot to show up undefeated.  But if Oregon/Stanford does turn out to be the Pac-12 game of 2013, who wins? 

Stanford’s defense has most of the pieces back from one of last year’s national bests.  In 2012 they had Oregon’s number, but how much of it was an exceptional game for the Stanford D and/or off night for the Oregon O?  Washington, Wazzu, Oregon State, Arizona and UCLA all scored more points on the Trees than our Ducks did, and it’s hard to argue that it’s because their offenses were better. 

Stanford’s offense took some big hits to graduation and the NFL.  Their QB and most of their O-line return, but gone are two truly elite tight ends, their best receivers and star running back Stefan Taylor.  Their offense will likely take a step back, and last year’s unit only rated 72nd in the country.  Last year’s lack of production on offense created wins by more than a touchdown and a kick only against Duke, Cal, Colorado and UCLA (one of two games).  So while some argue that they were within a score a game of going undefeated, they were also within a score a game of going 4 – 8. 

Oregon is thought to have questions in the linebacker corps, but the second and third line got a ton of experience last year.  Stanford lacks elite cornerbacks and has questions at running back, receiver and tight end.  They will need newcomers to step up at the skill positions to duplicate last year’s ability to win close games.  My preseason money is on the Ducks.  

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Mike Merrell

Mike Merrell

Mike (Editor-in-Chief) is a 1970 graduate of the University of Oregon where he attended the Honors College and received all-conference honors as a swimmer. After college, Mike ran for the Oregon Track Club and narrowly missed qualifying for the US Olympic Trials in the marathon. He continues his involvement in sports with near-daily swimming or running workouts, occasional masters swim competition (where he has received two Top-10 World rankings), providing volunteer coaching to local triathletes and helping out with FishDuck.com. Mike lives on 28 acres in the forest near Sandpoint, Idaho, where he has served as a certified public accountant for most of his working career. His current night job is writing novels about Abby Westminster, the only known illegitimate daughter of Britain's finest secret agent who has to bring down arch-villains plotting dastardly deeds. And, yes, Abby is also a DUCK!

  • Lindypop

    That was a rather pessimistic view of Stanford. Can’t blame you as you don’t seem to follow Stanford closely. But, here are a few things to consider about Stanford, which might give you pause…

    Re the offense: no question Ertz is a big loss at tight end. (Toilolo not so much.) But, despite losing both starting wide receivers, I think Stanford will be stronger at the position. The starters last year were mediocre. Ty Montgomery was hurt much of last year and, apparently, is back to 100% and looked great in the spring. Michael Rector is a northwest kid who redshirted last year whom the coaches are very excited about.

    As for tailback, sure, Taylor is a loss. But the team returns Tyler Gaffney, who was a stud a couple years ago as Taylor’s backup. Gaffney was playing minor league baseball last year and took the year off from football. I think most objective observers would also tell you that the o-line – after returning four starters from last year – is likely to be better and so will Hogan.

    All in all, I think you’re looking at an offense that will be improved. Also, keep in mind that the paltry offensive stats you’re referring to were based on 8 games started by Josh Nunes at QB. The offense got better with Hogan as the starter.

    As for the D, the only question is the corner spot vacated by Terrance Brown. The other starter, Alex Carter, was great as a true freshman and should be one of the better ones in the conference this year. Hard to believe the D can be much better this year. However, when you consider that Stanford returns 9 starters from the team that played in the Rose Bowl, that seems likely.

    Does that mean Stanford will beat Oregon? Who knows? But, I’d put my money on Stanford being better this year than last.

    • Mike Merrell, Editor

      Lindypop –
      Thanks for joining the dialogue here at fishduck. Of course only time will tell how the season unwinds. I really have studied up fairly well on Stanford and my point remains that they will have to have some new guys step up at the skill positions. It could happen, but Taylor and Ertz are big shoes to fill. As noted, ball carriers and receivers responsible for over 75 % of Stanford’s yards against Oregon last year are gone, and I don’t really believe that Stanford got Oregon O’s best game last year. Stanford, even without Taylor and Ertz, may end up being better this year. We certainly expect Oregon to be.