Stanford Football: The 7 Best Offensive Players on the Squad
The Stanford Cardinal finished the 2010 season ranked 14th in the nation in total offense.
This year, the Cardinal look to be just as dangerous on that side of the ball despite returning only six offensive starters.
A big part of Stanford's success on offense comes from the amount of talented players that are featured in the offense every year.
The Cardinal will reload with plenty of talent again in 2011 and are returning the best player in the country at quarterback.
Here are the top seven offensive players that will be playing for the Cardinal this season.
7. GrIff Whalen: Wide Receiver
As the sixth receiving option for the Stanford Cardinal in 2010, Griff Whalen was extremely proficient.
Whalen had one of the highest yards per catch averages on the team, catching 17 passes for 249 yards.
More impressive than Whalen's 14.6 yards per catch average is the fact that his best game came against the Cardinal's toughest opponent. When Stanford faced the Oregon Ducks early last season, Whalen caught five passes for 78 yards and added a touchdown.
With receivers Doug Baldwin and Ryan Whalen gone from the Stanford passing attack, Griff Whalen will serve a much more prominent role in the offense.
6. David DeCastro: Offensive Guard
Despite losing three offensive line starters from last season, Stanford is returning two of the best offensive linemen in the country - one of those being David DeCastro.
The First Team All- PAC 10 selection was a crucial part of one of the best offensive fronts in all of college football. In fact, the offensive line unit allowed the Cardinal to boast the second highest rushing total in school history and the second fewest sacks allowed per game in the nation.
DeCastro, if he hopes to lead an offensive line that will be fairly raw to the same kind of success, will need to perform even better than last season.
5. Coby Fleener: Tight End
If the Stanford Cardinal's last game against Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl is any indication of how Coby Fleener will perform this season, than the Cardinal are in for a treat.
Fleener had a career game, catching six passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns - one of the best receiving performances all season. The most amazing part of that game is that he did it as a tight end.
The rest of Fleener's season featured respectable numbers, but he will hope to perform like he did in Stanford's final game in his final season.
4. Chris Owusu: Wide Receiver
Chris Owusu is yet another pass catching threat the Stanford Cardinal and Andrew Luck will have the luxury of having in 2011.
By far one of the more athletic players on Stanford's roster, Owusu will be the number one wide receiver for the Cardinal this season.
Owusu is coming off an injury-plagued Junior season that caused him to miss almost half of the season (six games) in 2010. Even with the injuries, though, Owusu managed to be fourth on the team in receiving and the top returning receiver in 2011.
In a game against Arizona last season, Owusu had one of the best games of any Stanford receiver catching nine passes for 165 yards and a touchdown.
Should Owusu be able to remain healthy throughout the season, not only will he be one of the most valuable assets on the team, but he could be one of the best offensive players in the country.
3. Stepfan Taylor: Running Back
Stepfan Taylor is one of the few returning starters on the offensive side of the ball that holds a skill position for the Stanford Cardinal.
As only a Sophomore, Taylor ran for over 1100 yards and found the endzone 15 times, but perhaps the most impressive statistic he posted was his 223 carries.
Taylor proved he could be durable and had the ability to carry a big portion of the offensive load and with the lack of experience at the receiver position, he could be asked to carry even more.
The reason Taylor is so valuable to the Cardinal extends beyond his ability to run the ball. Last season Taylor added 28 receptions for 266 yards and a touchdown, making him one of Stanford's top returning pass-catchers.
His duel-threat ability makes him one of the best players on the Stanford offense and a key to the Cardinal's success.
2. Jonathan Martin: Offensive Tackle
Jonathan Martin is entering the 2011 football season as one of the nation's top offensive tackles and Stanford's second-best offensive player.
A big part of Andrew Luck's success can be attributed to Martin's ability to protect him. In fact, the Cardinal were one of the best in the nation at protecting the quarterback in 2010, giving up only five sacks the entire year.
Martin is a very popular preseason All-American selection and one of the top 2012 NFL draft prospects. Look for Martin to live up to those expectation this season.
1. Andrew Luck: Quarterback
No real explanation needed here.
Andrew Luck is the best player on the Stanford Cardinal and the leader of the offense.
Luck's numbers speak for themselves: last season Luck was 263-372, throwing for 3338 yards and 32 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.
He will be the preseason Heisman Trophy favorite and everyone's pick to be the first player selected in the 2012 draft.
The Cardinal's success will rest on the shoulders of Andrew Luck.