As the Stanford Cardinal look to defend their 2012 Pac 12 title, they face some difficult turnover that comes with the college football game. Their biggest loss may be running back Stepfan Taylor, who carried the Stanford offense and drove their physical, run-heavy philosophy all the way to the Rose Bowl last January. But new offensive coordinator and former run-game coordinator Mike Bloomgren isn’t going to abandon the running game in 2013 and has a very specific idea about what his running backs will do next fall.
There isn’t going to be just one guy who steps in and replaces Taylor next season. The former Cardinal stalwart just did too much for that to happen. His 322 attempts were six times more than anyone else on the team (No. 2 in carries was quarterback Kevin Hogan) as he pounded his way to 1,530 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. He leaves Palo Alto as one of the best running backs to ever play for the Cardinal and his shoes are simply too massive for any one player to fill.
Luckily for Bloomgren and the Stanford offense, the Cardinal are deep in talented running backs. Bloomgren predicts that he has six backs who could start just about anywhere in the country and he will find touches for all of them in 2013. Talking with Kevin Gemmell of the ESPN Pac-12 blog, Bloomgren laid out his expectations for his stable of running backs:
You look at how big Gaff (Tyler Gaffney) is right now, and oh my goodness. The way (Anthony) Wilkerson ran downhill in the Rose Bowl. The zone-running gurus are Ricky Seale and Barry (Sanders) and how they run outside and read things… Remound Wright and Jackson Cummings…Those guys run the gap schemes, the who-we-are-Stanford-football plays, so well.
That spells nothing but success for Stanford in the running game as they have option after option they can plug in to run the football. If a defense is keyed to stop the power game, they can switch it up to a zone-scheme. If teams are focused on outside contain, they have bruisers who can run the ball straight up the middle. Whatever Stanford faces in 2013, they have a running back ready to face it.
Will this Voltron of running backs be enough to get Stanford back to Pasadena in 2013?