Stanford Football – Running backs providing fireworks || By: Mark Soltau
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September 27, 2015
Running backs providing fireworks
By Mark Soltau
STANFORD, Calif. – A lot was expected of sophomore running back Christian McCaffrey this season, and he hasn’t disappointed.
The 201-pounder from Castle Rock, Colorado, is quickly establishing himself as one of the most dynamic and versatile offensive players in the country. McCaffrey rushed for a career-high 206 yards on a career-high 30 carries and finished with 303 all-purpose yards to help lead Stanford to a 42-24 victory against Oregon State in Corvallis on Friday night. Many of those yards came on tough, inside runs.
McCaffrey now ranks third in the country in all-purpose yards, averaging 222 per game. In 117 plays, he has rushed for 445 yards, added 157 yards in receiving, and returned kickoffs for 260, totaling 889 yards.
“With (Kevin) Hogan beat up a little bit, we knew we had to run the ball this game, so we prepared all week and the offensive line stepped up,” said McCaffrey. “It’s so fun to watch the big guys doing their job.”
It wasn’t as much fun for Oregon State head coach Gary Anderson. The Cardinal churned for 325 yards on the ground, its highest mark since 2011. In the second half, Stanford out-rushed Oregon State, 217-0.
“We absolutely got worn down,” he said.
With the offensive line leading the way, the Cardinal averaged 7.9 yards per play, compared to 5.4 for the Beavers, and finished with a nine-minute time of possession advantage.
“The main focus was to be efficient and productive on first and second down,” McCaffrey said. “We stuck to our game plan, and the productive running game opened up the passing game.”
On the season, McCaffrey averages 5.1 yards per carry and has a team-high 13 receptions.
Not to be overlooked were the contributions of running backs Remound Wright and Barry Sanders. The 5-foot-9, 205-pound Wright continues to be Stanford’s go-to guy at the goal line. The fifth-year senior from Fort Wayne, Indiana, rushed for a team-high 11 touchdowns last season and has already found the end zone five times in 2015.
Sanders, a 5-foot-10, 198-pound senior from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, tallied a pair of touchdown runs against Oregon State and now has three on the season. He averages a team-best 7.8 yards per carry.
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For the fourth consecutive game, senior inside linebacker Blake Martinez finished with double-digits in tackles with a team-high 12, nine of the solo variety. But he had plenty of help. Senior free safety Dallas Lloyd had six stops, while sophomores Alameen Murphy, Alijah Holder, Joey Alfieri and junior Peter Kalambayi each had five.
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Stanford (3-1), which moved up three spots in Sunday’s latest AP rankings to No. 18, has started 2-0 in Pac-12 Conference North Division play, and both wins have come on the road. Of its remaining seven regular-season league games, only two involve travel: at Washington State on Oct. 31 and Colorado on Nov. 7.
The Cardinal will be at home for six of its last eight contests, starting Saturday against Arizona, which was roughed up Saturday night by UCLA, 56-30.
The kickoff time for the game, the Pac-12 home opener for Stanford and its first with students enrolled in classes, is 7:30 p.m. PT and it will be televised on Pac-12 Networks.
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Of Stanford’s eight remaining opponents, all but two have winning records. Arizona is 3-1, UCLA is 4-0, Washington is 2-2, Washington State is 2-1, Colorado is 3-1, Oregon is 2-2, Cal is 4-0 and Notre Dame is 4-0.
Just to emphasize the overall strength of the Pac-12, no team has a losing record. The South Division is a combined 19-5, while the North is 15-8.
There are five Pac-12 teams ranked in the AP Top 25 poll. They are UCLA (7), Utah (10), USC (17), Stanford (18) and Cal (24).
And for those still lamenting about Stanford’s 16-6 season-opening loss at Northwestern, consider: the Wildcats improved to 4-0 by beating Ball State on Saturday and are now ranked 16th.
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Extra Points … Junior outside linebacker Mike Tyler had his first career sack at Oregon State … The offensive line did not allow a sack … Mike Buckley served as Stanford’s honorary captain.
— #GoStanford —