The Stanford Cardinal have a clear identity on the football field. They’re going to be physical on both sides of the ball, establish the running game and shut you down defensively. That gameplan may face a new hurdle this weekend, however, as All-American guard David Yankey will not be available when Stanford takes on the Washington State Cougars.
According to David Shaw, Yankey will not be in the lineup because of a “family situation” that the senior has to take care of. He has left the team to be with his family this week and does not have a specific timetable for his return. Shaw confirmed that Yankey is healthy and in good standing with the team and that this would be a temporary leave to handle a personal matter with his family.
For Stanford, that puts a major hole in their offensive line this weekend. Yankey, a consensus All-American and Morris Trophy winner as the Pac 12’s top offensive lineman in 2012, has been a leader up front for Stanford as they have physically manhandled opposing defensive fronts in establishing the Cardinal offense. He may very well be the best offensive lineman in the country this season and is on a clear track to make some excellent money in the NFL next season.
In his place, Stanford will throw sophomore Josh Garnett into the starting lineup against the Cougars. The entire offensive line is an elite unit for Stanford with incredible talents across the board, but losing their best lineman and leader of the group could cause a bit of confusion early on. Garnett is clearly not as experienced or established as Yankey and could become a target for WSU’s defensive coordinator with stunts and blitzes.
So far this season, Washington State has struggled to stop the run and will be looking for any advantage they can get to keep the Cardinal rushing attack contained. If they can get penetration and create negative plays in the running game, they will get Stanford out of their normal rhythm where they might make a mistake or two. Garnett will need to prepare himself to handle everything that WSU may throw at him on Saturday in order to keep the Stanford offense on track.