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24 STANFORD

Aug. 16, 2010
Aug. 16, 2010

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Aug. 16, 2010

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24 STANFORD

The post-Toby era hinges on three backs and a lot of Luck

Tyler Gaffney began the grilling on his official visit to Stanford in January 2009, when Toby Gerhart, another two-sport athlete, served as his host. Gaffney continued it last season, when Gerhart, then a senior, was piling up 1,871 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns, both school records, and Gaffney, then a freshman tailback, was mostly patrolling the sideline. Toby, how do you manage school and baseball and football? How do you deal with the speed of the game? How do you attack this defense? "I asked him a ton of questions," says Gaffney. There was, however, one thing he never thought to ask: "How in the world will we replace you when you're gone?"

This is an article from the Aug. 16, 2010 issue

After all, even with its Heisman runner-up off to the Minnesota Vikings, Stanford's offense is hardly destitute. Eight starters will be back, including four of the five guys who made up a line that allowed seven sacks, second fewest in the nation. Also back is sophomore quarterback Andrew Luck, who passed for 2,575 yards and 13 TDs last year and who, unlike Gerhart last season, will be on many preseason Heisman watch lists. Luck will throw it more than he did last year, says offensive coordinator David Shaw, "but we don't want to be one of those teams that just lines up and throws the ball 60 times a game. We want to play tough and physical between the tackles and run the ball."

The Cardinal will rely on a trio of tailbacks: 5'11", 208-pound sophomore Stepfan Taylor, who was the team's third-leading rusher in '09 (behind Gerhart and Luck), with 56 carries and 303 yards; 6'1", 218-pound senior Jeremy Stewart, who had 17 carries for 107 yards in four games before a right-knee injury sidelined him for the rest of the season; and Gaffney, a rangy 6'1", 216-pound sophomore who had 22 carries for 87 yards last fall and earned Pac-10 honorable mention as a rightfielder for the school's baseball team this past spring. "We have a good group of guys who can all do something a little bit different," says Shaw.

This season, if all goes well, Gaffney and his backfield mates will step up and keep Stanford rolling. No questions asked.

Fast Facts

CONFERENCE Pac-10

COACH Jim Harbaugh (4th year)

2009 RECORD 8--5 (6--3 in Pac-10)

FINAL AP RANK NR

RETURNING STARTERS 14

Offense 8, Defense 6

Schedule

SEPTEMBER

4 Sacramento St.

11 at UCLA

18 Wake Forest

25 at Notre Dame

OCTOBER

2 at Oregon

9 USC

23 Washington St.

30 at Washington

NOVEMBER

6 Arizona

13 at Arizona State

20 at Cal

27 Oregon State

Key Players

ANDREW LUCK

QB, Sophomore

In addition to his dazzling numbers as a passer, Luck ran for 354 yards, good for second best on the team.

OWEN MARECIC

FB-LB, Senior

The Pac-10 honorable mention fullback also tops the depth chart at middle linebacker.

SHAYNE SKOV

LB, Sophomore

Five-star 2009 recruit justified the acclaim last year by making 62 tackles, including 15 against Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl.

PHOTOJASON O. WATSON/US PRESSWIRE (GAFFNEY)Also a rightfielder for the baseball team, Gaffney (25) will platoon in the backfield with Taylor and Stewart.PHOTOPETER READ MILLER