Tanner McKee’s 2021 Season
Coming into the 2021 season, Stanford’s QB situation was as mysterious to the outside world as it was to the team. Nobody knew who was winning the battle between senior Jack West and sophomore Tanner McKee.
Head coach David Shaw decided to use a two QB system in the opening game against Kansas State. West’s performance against Kansas State was poor to say the least. He threw for a mere 76 yards and two interceptions with no touchdowns. Additionally, Stanford’s ground game, which has been their bread-and-butter for years, averaged a pedestrian 1.8 yards per rush. On the other hand, McKee showed some bright spots in the game. He completed 83% of his passes and led Stanford on a late-game touchdown drive. While Stanford lost 24-7, it was clear who should start going forward.
Next week, McKee threw for 234 yards and two TDs, and led Stanford to an upset against then-ranked No. 14 USC. Later in the year, McKee would lead Stanford to a huge upset against Oregon. He made clutch throw after clutch throw to send the game to overtime and score on the first possession of OT.
In both games, McKee displayed elite ball placement and the ability to place the ball into tight windows. Also, McKee’s stature at 6-6 allows him to see the action all over the field and make the proper decisions.
But after this game, the season went awry for Stanford as they lost all their remaining seven games. McKee dealt with injuries that sidelined him for a few games. Stanford also lost WR Brycen Tremayne to a season-ending leg injury. Moreover, wide receivers Michael Wilson and John Humphreys also missed games due to ailments.
Tanner McKee’s 2022 Outlook
While McKee struggled toward the end of last season, he has shown that he has the talent to conduct a high-powered offense. This will be needed if the Cardinal want to improve this year. At receiver, he will have Brycen Tremayne and Elijah Higgins back. Additionally, All-Pac-12 Tight End Benjamin Yourosek will return to the farm as McKee’s likely number one target. McKee’s connection and trust with his receiving core was evident at the beginning of last season, as he often threw the ball to receivers in heavily contested situations. His talent is not just noticed by Stanford fans, but also other media pundits. In fact, Pro Football Focus has McKee as the third ranked QB in the 2023 NFL draft class. With a talent like McKee at the helm, Stanford could easily return to making a bowl game in 2022.
Stanford’s first formidable foe on the season is at home against USC on September 10th. College football fans across the country are circling this game because it will be Lincoln Riley’s first game against Pac-12 competition as the head coach of USC. But don’t ignore the possibility of Stanford pulling off the upset, they have an elite talent at the most key position.
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