Heisman Trophy runner-up Andrew Luck opted not to turn pro and returned for his junior season at Stanford. Coach Jim Harbaugh did leave, taking over as coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Luck's return has buoyed expectations for the seventh-ranked Cardinal, who host local rival San Jose State on Saturday in coach David Shaw's debut as Harbaugh's replacement.
Considered a lock to be the top quarterback selected in the 2011 draft, Luck bypassed the NFL and decided to come back to The Farm. He set school records with 32 TD passes, a 70.7 completion percentage and a 170.2 passing efficiency rating last season to help Stanford go 12-1 and finish fourth in the final AP poll - the school's best ranking since the unbeaten 1940 team finished second.
Luck sought out the advice of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning before making his decision. Manning surprised many when he chose to return to Tennessee for his senior season. It has been pointed out to Luck that Manning failed to win a national title after returning and that Tim Tebow was unable to lead Florida to a second straight BCS crown after coming back. In addition, Sam Bradford came back to Oklahoma after winning the Heisman as a sophomore and endured a difficult season due to a shoulder injury.
The return of Luck, who is drawing comparisons to Stanford greats John Elway and Jim Plunkett, has made Shaw's job easier. Shaw served as Harbaugh's offensive coordinator the previous four seasons.
Although Stanford will be a huge favortie to win its season opener for the fourth straight season, this matchup dubbed the "Bill Walsh Legacy Game" could be intriguing. Walsh was a San Jose State graduate before he became famous for coaching Stanford and the 49ers.San Jose State went 1-12 in 2010 in Mike MacIntyre's first year. These teams last met Sept. 19, 2009, with Luck completing nine of 12 passes for 170 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a 42-17 victory that was his home debut.
How will Luck's Heisman campaign begin? The redshirt junior's decision to return to the Farm despite every indication he'd be the top NFL draft choice has been well documented and there has never been a college football player in the Bay Area with this much preseason hype. Which true freshmen will play? WR Ty Montgomery , FS Jordan Richards , CB Wayne Lyons and LB James Vaughters will play, but there could be more. After starting fall camp with the LBs Patrick Skov has been working at FB and could be a major contributor on special teams. San Jose St last season had the overall 115th ranked defense int he country last season, giving up an average of 261 passing yards for 105th in the nation. Toadd insult to injury they were rated just 98th in the nation in total offense. Can you say blowout tuneup? I can, to the tune of 56-10 or somewhere in the trenches of the final outcome. Best of luck however you play!