- The Washington Times - Friday, September 9, 2005

New Stanford coach Walt Harris is known for his high-powered, pass-first offenses. With strong-armed quarterback Trent Edwards and outstanding wide receivers Mark Bradford and Evan Moore returning, the pieces appear in place for Harris to direct another aerial assault with the Cardinal.

Harris was adamant during preseason practice, however, about establishing the running game. Stanford’s ground attack was atrocious last season, averaging 81.2 yards.

“We have to find the consistent guy, and we have to block for him,” Harris said. “We have to learn what our players can do. The defense has to respect the running game.”

In an attempt to ignite the ground game, Harris has moved former wideout Anthony Kimble to tailback and inserted him as the starter. The Cardinal’s first opponent also could help matters.

Stanford opens its season today against Navy in Annapolis, and the Midshipmen’s defense will be looking to improve sharply on last week’s effort against the run. Maryland racked up 210 rushing yards against the Mids, grinding out long drives in the second half to overcome an early 14-3 deficit and win 23-20. Maryland’s Mario Merrills ran for 149 yards on 30 carries in his first college start. The Terps ran 15 plays during their two scoring drives in the third quarter, and 14 were rushes.

“We missed too many tackles,” Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green said. “That is the primary thing we have to do, tackle better. We’ve got to get a chance in the running game to make plays, and we can’t stay on the field as long as we did. We’ve got to put [Stanford] in some third-down situations and get off the field.”

Stanford’s offensive line will possess a significant size advantage, nothing new for the perpetually undersized Mids. But the Cardinal group is also experienced and deep. All five starters return from last season, plus four others who have started at least one game.

Then there are four highly touted freshmen who all redshirted last season.

One of them, Alex Fletcher, already is in the starting lineup at right guard.

Navy’s defensive line is anchored by senior co-captain Jeremy Chase, now in his third season as a starter and second full time at defensive end. Linemates John Chan and Larry Cylc made their first career starts against Maryland.

“I think we need to play more consistent,” Navy defensive line coach Dale Pehrson said. “I thought Chase played pretty consistently, and he’s the one that’s played before. The others are all pretty new. They’ve got a chance to get better and, hopefully now, they know where they need to go.”

Notes — This will be Navy’s first game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium since the FieldTurf playing surface was installed. Today’s game is expected to be a sellout of 30,000. Navy has sold a school-record 17,000 season tickets, surpassing last season’s 12,000.

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