There were questions about the identity of the Stanford Cardinal a few weeks ago following their upset loss against the Utah Utes. Those questions have been answered in a major way in the last two weeks as David Shaw has his team getting back to Stanford football, playing tough defense and running the football to grind out wins. That formula was on full display Saturday against the Oregon State Beavers as Tyler Gaffney led the charge in a physical win on the road.
It wasn’t a pretty offensive performance for Stanford, but they rarely are when the Cardinal are the most effective. Shaw was content to hand the ball off to Gaffney and shorten this game by keeping the clock moving with long drives sustained by the running game. The senior running back carried the ball 22 times for 145 yards and scored all three Stanford touchdowns on the night. He accounted for 67 percent of Stanford’s carries on the night, 78 percent of the rushing yards and more than half of the team’s total yards.
Stanford’s style will never win them many style points, but the effectiveness can’t be denied. Gaffney’s ability to grind out yardage and rack up first downs to sustain drives that ended with touchdowns was incredibly effective in containing what has been a very explosive Oregon State offense this season. It was a solid follow-up to Gaffney’s performance last week against the UCLA Bruins when he broke out for 176 yards and two touchdowns in another physical win. It’s the third straight game Gaffney has rushed for 100 yards or more and the fifth time this season.
Gaffney has emerged as the offensive work-horse that many worried Stanford wouldn’t have this season following the graduation of Stepfan Taylor last season. With a steady presence pacing the offense in the running game, Stanford is hitting their stride at just the right time.