Okay so the article was supposed to be 10 things, but come on! Stanford is a semi-open book. David Shaw quietly took the reins from Jim Harbaugh and hasn't missed a step. Well, he hasn't delivered a BCS Championship, yet. That is something he will need to rectify to quiet the doubters. So make it eight things you need to know. Here are the other eight.
Stanford has a questionable mascot. That doesn't stop them from winning. They lose their elite players to the NFL and it still doesn't stop them from winning. Can they keep it up?
Stanford is the only FBS school that employs African-Americans as the athletic director, head football coach, and head men's basketball coach.
While this has absolutely nothing to do with their potential win or loss record it is an interesting fact.
In 2012 Stanford signed the number five recruiting class in the country accoring to Rivals.com. In 2013, Rivals.com rated their recruiting class 63 in the nation. They were also ranked 11th in the Pac-12, only ahead of Colorado.
While this seems like a step back, it isn't. The ranking system is partly based on class size. Because Stanford had few seniors on the roster the number of recruits were limited.
Stanford's defense led the nation in sacks with 57. They ended the season top five in sacks, tackles for loss and against the run.
The better news is that they only lose Shayne Skov and Chase Thomas from the linebacker corps. And from the defensive tackle ranks they lose Terrence Stephens.
This means the defense that dominated will only lose three players from eleven.
Red-shirt freshman quarterback
Red-shirt freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan became a starter in November. He will enter the 2013 season undefeated. He has wins over Oregon at Oregon. He has won against UCLA to win the Pac-12. He also has a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin.
Gone are some pretty good offensive weapons. Tight-ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo. Together they combined for 93 catches for 1,231 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Ertz led the team with 69 receptions, 898 yards and six touchdowns. He was also named as a MAckey Award Finalist.
Also gone is Stepfan Taylor. Taylor was the motor of the Stanford offense. He collected 1.530 yards and 13 touchdowns. He carried the ball six times more than anyone else on the team.
The way to replace Taylor may be a running back by committee.
New Offensive Coordinator
Pep Hamilton is gone. He will be replaced by offensive line coach and running back coordinator Mike Bloomgren. Bloomgren was the only person interviewed for the position.
Strength of Schedule
The final four games include a date with Oregon, USC, California and Notre Dame. For a team that needs to evolve beyond winning Pac-12 going undefeated is the goal. Competing for the BCS Championship is the goal. And for that to happen Stanford will have to go undefeated. Negotiating the last four games will be the key.