The Stanford Cardinal changed starting quarterbacks in the middle of 2012, handing the offense over to young Kevin Hogan. They went on to win the Pac 12 Championship and the Rose Bowl Game behind his solid play, but they will need him to do even more in 2013 if Stanford hopes to defend their conference title and make another trip to Pasadena.
Hogan’s results in 2012 can’t be denied. He went 5-0 down the stretch with four wins against opponents in the top 25, including road wins against the Oregon Ducks and UCLA Bruins. The Cardinal then charged through the Pac 12 title game and over the Wisconsin Badgers in the Rose Bowl to cap one of the more successful Stanford seasons in the program’s history.
But Hogan benefited greatly from a strong running game led by Stepfan Taylor and a massive offensive line that allowed the young quarterback to get his feet wet in the offense without having too much forced on him. In his final three starts of the season, Hogan failed to throw for more than 160 yards and threw just two total touchdown passes.
The offense will be more squarely on Hogan’s shoulders next season, so low outputs like that aren’t going to get the job done. With Taylor gone and no clear running back ready to step into his place, the passing game will take on even more importance in the Stanford gameplan next fall. And with the top two receiving threats at tight end gone for the NFL, Hogan will have to step up and be a leader with some unproven commodities.
While Hogan accomplished plenty during his first five starts, the pressure will be even greater as he begins his first full season as a starter. The fate of Stanford next season rests squarely on Hogan taking command of the offense in 2013 rather than just understanding it.