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Stanford Football 2014: 5 Questions Entering the Season

Stanford Football 2014: 5 Questions Entering the Season

 Dec 7, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Detailed view of a Stanford Cardinal helmet held in the air in the first quarter against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Stanford defeated Arizona State 38-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Associated Press No. 11 ranked Stanford Cardinal enters the 2014 season as the defending Pac-12 champions. Stanford went 11-3 in 2013 including a tie for the best record in the Pac-12 with the Oregon Ducks at 7-2. The Cardinal will look to bounce back after finishing the season with a loss in the Rose Bowl to the Michigan State Spartans 24-20. Here are five questions the Stanford Cardinal need to answer entering the 2014 season.

5. Can The Defense Fill The Holes Left From Last Season?

Dec 7, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; The Arizona State Sun Devils offensive line squares off against the Stanford Cardinal defense during the first half at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

5. Can The Defense Fill The Holes Left From Last Season?

Dec 7, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; The Arizona State Sun Devils offensive line squares off against the Stanford Cardinal defense during the first half at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinal defense will have holes to fill this season after losing LBs Shayne Skov and Trent Murphy, who were the core of the Cardinal defense. It will be tough to replace the production of Murphy, who lead the nation in sacks last season with 13. Senior A.J. Tarpley has looked good at linebacker in the spring, but must step up as the leader of the Cardinal's defense under new defensive coordinator Lance Anderson.

4. Can Stanford 3-Peat As Pac-12 Champions?

Dec 7, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan (8) kisses the Pac 12 championship trophy after beating the Arizona State Sun Devils 38-14 at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

4. Can Stanford 3-Peat As Pac-12 Champions?

Dec 7, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan (8) kisses the Pac 12 championship trophy after beating the Arizona State Sun Devils 38-14 at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford looks to defend their Pac-12 championship with the potential of a 3-peat this season. This might be the toughest season the Cardinal has faced in years due to the much improved quarterback competition in the Pac-12. Stanford is scheduled to play six top 25 teams with their only home game coming against the No. 15 USC Trojans on Sept. 6. The Cardinal will need a complete team effort to compete in the Pac-12 this season.

3. Can Kevin Hogan Be An Elite QB For The Cardinal?

Nov 30, 2013; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan (8) holds off Notre Dame Fighting Irish safety Matthias Farley (41) for a tackle during the third quarter at Stanford Stadium. The Stanford Cardinal defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

3. Can Kevin Hogan Be An Elite QB For The Cardinal?

Nov 30, 2013; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan (8) holds off Notre Dame Fighting Irish safety Matthias Farley (41) for a tackle during the third quarter at Stanford Stadium. The Stanford Cardinal defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Pac-12 conference is stocked full of talented quarterbacks with, 10 of them being named on the Davey O' Brien watch list, including Stanford's Kevin Hogan. There's still many who believe that Hogan makes common mistakes and has yet to show his true potential under center for the Cardinal. In an offensive aggressive conference, Hogan must prove himself as an elite by reducing the amount of interceptions and becoming a defensive-minded QB.

2. Can Stanford Take Care Of Business On The Road This Season?

Jan 1, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Tyler Gaffney (25) celebrates with teammates Andrus Peat (70), David Yankey (54) and Jordan Pratt (87) after scoring on a 16-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter against the Michigan State Spartans in the 100th Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2. Can Stanford Take Care Of Business On The Road This Season?

Jan 1, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Tyler Gaffney (25) celebrates with teammates Andrus Peat (70), David Yankey (54) and Jordan Pratt (87) after scoring on a 16-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter against the Michigan State Spartans in the 100th Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest test for the Stanford Cardinal this season is their schedule on the road. With five of their six road games against No. 25 Washington Huskies, No. 17 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, No. 19 Arizona State Sun Devils, No. 3 Oregon Ducks and No. 7 UCLA Bruins, they must take care of business for a successful season. This will make or break their hopes for possible a national championship run and a third consecutive Pac-12 championship.

1. Can David Shaw Lead The Cardinal Towards A National Championship Playoff Run?

Dec 30, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal coach David Shaw poses with the Leishman Trophy at press conference for the 100th Rose Bowl at LA Hotel Downtown. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

1. Can David Shaw Lead The Cardinal Towards A National Championship Playoff Run?

Dec 30, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal coach David Shaw poses with the Leishman Trophy at press conference for the 100th Rose Bowl at LA Hotel Downtown. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach David Shaw has lead the Stanford to three consecutive BCS bowl game appearances and back-to-back Pac-12 conference championships. Despite being in contention, the Cardinal has yet to play for a national championship. Could this be the year that David Shaw takes his team to the next level? A lot of good luck with all the pieces falling will be needed for Stanford to be part of the first ever four-team playoffs.