Stanford could take a step back

Will issues on offense, passing D derail Cardinal's repeat Pac-12 bid?

Updated: July 26, 2013, 1:22 PM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider

Kevin Hogan AP Photo/Jeff ChiuCan Kevin Hogan lead the Stanford Cardinal to back-to-back Pac-12 titles?

Statistician Bill James used to say that one of the ways to tell a great team from a good team is that the great team will win more of its games by a large number of points.

Using that rule of thumb as a barometer, the Stanford Cardinal were a good team rather than a great team last season. They had 10 games decided by a touchdown or less, and eight of their wins were by seven or fewer points -- two factors that were largely overshadowed by the team's many accomplishments, including a surprise overtime win over Oregon, a Pac-12 championship and Rose Bowl victory.

That is probably why the Cardinal are being viewed as a top-five-caliber outfit in 2013, yet this shows Stanford has little margin for error. It also means the Cardinal could very well take a step back from last year's level if they can't correct issues in some key areas.

To read more from KC Joyner on potential concerns for Stanford heading into 2013, sign up for Insider today.