Part 7: Proven Or Unproven? Harbaugh Likes His Luck

Kristian SiutaCorrespondent IIJuly 15, 2009

LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 6:  Alex Loukas #15 celebrates with head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Stanford University Cardinal after defeating the USC Trojans 24-23 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum October 6, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Following Stanford's Spring game in April, head coach Jim Harbaugh was quoted as saying, “If we had a game tomorrow (Andrew) Luck would be our starter.”

My feeling is that Harbaugh witnessed the ball flying all over the stadium that day to the tune of 352 yards and five touchdowns by Andrew Luck. Couple that with Toby Gerhart in the backfield and the Cardinal have a significantly more balanced attack than in previous seasons.

Coming out of Stratford High School in Houston, Luck was the No. 4 ranked quarterback in the nation according to

Luck was the first of now countless highly touted recruits that Harbaugh brought in since stepping on the prestigious campus in Palo Alto.

The numbers are there. He passed for 7,139 career yards and 53 touchdowns in three prep seasons as a starter.

The question remains: how will these tremendous high school stats translate to Pac-Ten action against the ferocious defenses of USC and Bay Area rival California, and during road tests against Arizona and Wake Forest?

Stanford is poised to turn the corner in 2009 and Harbaugh has the confidence in the young Texan gunslinger.

However, the running game that Harbaugh has instilled at Stanford will be the safety net for the red-shirt Freshman. Toby Gerhart, the 6'1", 235-pound bruiser, will be the bread and butter for Harbaugh’s offense.

In 2008, the Norco, Calif. product ran over, through, and around defenses for 1,136 yards and 15 touchdowns. His 5.4 yards per carry average really stood out. Gerhart also showed his quality as a receiver, hauling in 13 passes for 114 yards.

Not only is Stanford’s leading rusher returning for Harbaugh’s offense, but Luck will also have Ryan Whalen, Stanford's leading receiver in 2008, returning. Teamed up with Whalen in the passing attack is Doug Baldwin, who totaled four touchdowns in '08, and 6'6" tight end Coby Fleener. 

This off-season in the Pac-Ten has been full of noise out of the Bay Area. The resurgence of Stanford and the continued prowess of Jeff Tedford and California has generated excitement in the area.

I think the “Luck” will be on the side of the Cardinal in 2009.

Although, with a tough schedule with four of Stanford' first seven games on the road, the youthful Luck will be thrown into the fire quickly and realize this is not spring ball anymore. However, Luck has the pedigree to prove himself in the conference.

The tools are abundant in Palo Alto and this should be the season that Stanford returns to a bowl game for the first time since the 2001 Seattle Bowl.