Keller Chryst

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Keller Chryst returns as Stanford’s starting QB vs. Utah

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There is an old football logic that suggests a player should never lose his job to an injury. Stanford head coach David Shaw appears to live by that mentality as it was announced on Friday that senior quarterback Keller Chryst will return to the starting lineup this week. While Chryst is expected to start, Stanford also announced K.J. Costello is also expected to get some playing time for the Cardinal Saturday night at No. 20 Utah.

Chryst was picked off twice in Stanford’s loss to San Diego State in mid-September and was then roughed up against UCLA in the first quarter and taken out of the game due to an injury. That led Costello to take over the starting duties for last week’s game against Arizona State. Against the Sun Devils, Costello completed 15 of 24 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown. He has thrown three touchdowns without an interception in the past two games. Making the job easier for Costello has been the continued dominance of running back Bryce Love, who continues to pile up the rushing yardage and wiggle his way into the Heisman Trophy spotlight.

Now, with Stanford still very much in the thick of the Pac-12 North race despite having two losses on their record so far, the Cardinal are in the odd position of having a bit of a quarterback controversy smack-dab in the middle of the season. Costello has shown more of an ability to provide some athleticism and versatility to the Stanford offense in limited exposure compared to Chryst. But having Love running the ball allows Stanford to, more often than not, be able to work out some issues in the passing game until Shaw can feel comfortable making a decision with one guy over the other.

Stanford hands keys to offense to QB Keller Chryst

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With things not going anywhere close according to plan this season, Stanford head coach David Shaw is in need of a change. This week that change will come at quarterback, where Keller Chryst will get a chance to start his first game with the Cardinal. Chryst will replace Ryan Burns, who has been picked off seven times this season.

”I hate to get to this point,” Shaw said. ”But it’s the best thing for this offense. We need more production at that position. It’s our challenge to support Keller.”

Chryst has attempted 18 passes this season, completing seven for 63 yards with one interception. He has also rushed 11 times for 11 yards.

Stanford’s offensive woes are not to rest squarely on the shoulders of Burns, but one of the biggest ways to spark a struggling offense is to change the quarterback. Shaw hopes this change will turn things around before things get too much worse this season. Stanford’s offensive numbers are down much more than anyone would have expected this season. The Cardinal are averaging just 17.0 points per game and 299.1 yards per game. Stanford has reached the end zone on offense just 10 times. Oklahoma and Texas Tech combined for 17 touchdowns on Saturday.

”I’ve been working with both all year and they’re both great people,” Stanford wide receiver Trent Irwin said. ”Sometimes you just need a change. We’ll see where it goes and have fun with it.”

Stanford takes on Arizona in Tucson this Saturday night.

Stanford gives Christian McCaffrey a break in spring game

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Of all of the players in college football with something to prove this spring, Stanford’s dynamic Christian McCaffrey is most certainly not among them. The Heisman finalist did it all for the Cardinal en route to a Pac-12 championship last season, which is why David Shaw decided to give McCaffrey a little bit of a break in the spring game on Saturday.

“He went through all the practices,” Shaw said. “For me, it was just a mileage thing. We tried to make sure that we got him completely recuperated before we starting beating him up again.”

McCaffrey put up monster numbers last season in rushing for 2,019 yards on 337 rushing attempts, catching 45 passes for 645 yards, returning 15 punts and 37 kickoffs. He ended his tremendous sophomore season with 2,664 yards from scrimmage and 1,200 special teams yards. McCaffrey did see the field during Stanford’s spring game, calling for a fair catch three teams on punt duty, but that was all fans got to see of the 2015 Heisman Trophy runner-up.

“I wish I could be out here, but it makes sense,” McCaffrey said. “I feel great, and excited to be a part of this team.”

With McCaffrey taking it relatively easy in the spring game, the focus was on the quarterback competition with Ryan Burns and Keller Chryst attempting to replace Kevin Hogan. Shaw said he will have to look at the film before making any determination in which quarterback performed better, but the box score showed a pretty even afternoon for each. Burns completed 17 of 23 pass attempts for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Chryst completed 16 of his 25 attempts for 156 yards and he led two scoring drives.

“Hard to say who had the upper hand,” Shaw said. “We have to see what the decision making looked like. I was excited to see both guys come back and make some big-time throws. There were a lot of positives for both guys.”

Evan Crower, Stanford’s 2014 backup QB, considering a transfer

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As it turns out, the transfer drama at the quarterback position for Stanford may have not come to an end after all.

In late December and bleeding on in to early January, there was speculation that Kevin Hogan was not especially happy at Stanford.  As the rumors went, the quarterback would look to transfer — Michigan was mentioned as a possibility — or possibly even make himself available for the NFL draft.

The starter squelched that speculation in the middle of that month by announcing that he would be returning to The Farm.  Now, though, his backup last season is making his own transfer noise.

Evan Crower spent the 2014 season as the Cardinal’s No. 2 quarterback, completing 15-of-27 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown.  The past two seasons, he’s thrown for 324 yards and a pair of touchdowns while completing nearly 60 percent of his 42 attempts.  The decision to pursue a transfer likely lies in the presence of a pair of touted former four-star prospects, redshirt freshman Keller Chryst and redshirt sophomore Ryan Burns, and the likelihood that the 2015 backup will emerge from that duo.

Crower, a California native, was a three-star member of Stanford’s 2011 recruiting class, David Shaw‘s first as head coach after Jim Harbaugh left for the San Francisco 49ers a month ahead of National Signing Day.  Should Crower transfer to an FBS school, he’d be eligible to play immediately in 2015 if he enters a grad program not offered at Stanford.

Future Heisman candidates from the recruiting class of 2014

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The recruits from the high school recruiting class of 2014 have signed their letters of intent, so it’s time to start thinking about what kind of impact they’ll make in college.

Not all of them are going to live up to their lofty recruiting rankings this season. Some will take time to adjust to the rigors of college life and go on to redshirt. Some will find ways to contribute as backups or on special teams. Others will be pressed into action due to injuries. Only a select few will become stars this fall.

That said, here are the recruits from 2014 who stand the best chance of competing for a Heisman in the future, according to HeismanPundit.com (in no particular order):

Keller Chryst, QB, Stanford — Chryst is the best quarterback prospect from the West Coast since Carson Palmer. He’s a big, strong, grown man (6-4, 230) with good athleticism who happens to throw lasers. He has first-pick-in-the-draft potential down the road and, if all goes right, he’ll be the latest Cardinal quarterback to make a legit run at the Heisman.

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson — Think of how prolific Tajh Boyd has been in Chad Morris’s offense the past three seasons. Now replace him with an even more talented specimen like Watson and it’s not hard to imagine that the Gainesville, Ga., product is on his way to a special career. The 6-3, 195-pounder had over 17,000 yards of offense in high school.

Aaron Sharp, QB, UCLA — Sharp is very similar to Robert Griffin III coming out of high school due to his combination of track speed (21.19 200m) and raw football talent. It’s rare to have one of the fastest players in the country playing quarterback, but that’s what Sharp brings to the table. He also has a strong arm, good size and solid accuracy and with his skill set he should flourish in UCLA’s offensive scheme.

Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma — Mixon is a big, bruising downhill power back with good speed for his size (10.96 1oom at 6-1, 215 pounds). He is deceptively athletic and also exceptional as a receiver. He’s the best back signed by Oklahoma since Adrian Petersen. Like Petersen, he has an upright, attacking running style that makes him very tough to tackle in the open field. Though he’s no A.D. when it come to breakaway ability, he’ll play a lot as a freshman and eventually emerge as the latest star running back for the Sooners.

Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State — Rudolph is a perfect fit for the Cowboys offense. At 6-4, 210 pounds, he has a strong arm and is athletic enough to make plays with his feet. He is used to operating out of a shot gun attack. Like most of the quarterbacks who came before him in Stillwater, he’ll have excellent production in his career. But his overall physical ability separates him from previous OSU quarterbacks and could turn him into a potential Heisman candidate down the road.

Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU — Fournette is the consensus No. 1 running back in the country and some contend he is the best player overall. There’s no doubt he’s a physically gifted big back with very good speed for his size (10.95 at 6-1, 226) and he should play right away for the Tigers. The only question is whether he’ll get the chance to have the kind of production needed to challenge for a Heisman while playing for LSU. If given the carries, he should be a candidate sooner rather than later.

Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina — This was an excellent year for high school running backs. Hood is another one of those big, physical backs who can kick it into an extra gear in the open field. It’s rare for a man this size to have such quick feet. Hood will start from Day One for the Tar Heels and have an outstanding career.

Racean Thomas, RB, Auburn — While Fournette, Mixon and Hood are power backs with speed, Thomas is an ultra-quick and shifty scatback with breakaway ability and a knack for staying on his feet. His vision is outstanding and his ability to stop and start and cut on a dime is the best I’ve seen in quite a while. It’s not hard to picture him gaining huge yardage in Gus Malzahn’s offense and, like Tre Mason, making it to New York one day.

Deshone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame — It’s only a matter of time before Brian Kelly finds the right quarterback to run his offense. Kizer could be that guy. He’s a very talented dual-threat with good size (6-4, 205) and athletic ability. A successful Irish quarterback is always a Heisman candidate, so Kizer stands a good chance to fulfill that promise.

Others to watch
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Luke Rubenzer, QB, California
Reggie Bonnafon, QB, Louisville
De’Chavon Hayes, RB, Arizona State
Adam Choice, RB, Clemson
KD Cannon, WR, Baylor
DJ Gillins, QB, Wisconsin
Jarrod Heard, QB, Texas
Will Crest, QB, West Virginia
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Dalvin Warmack, RB, Kansas State

Photo courtesy of Rivals.com.