After their 57-3 drubbing of the San Jose State Spartans last Saturday the Stanford Cardinal are looking to keep the good times rolling against the Duke Blue Devils this weekend. And despite having Heisman hopeful Andrew Luck behind center, head coach David Shaw is trying to recreate their two-headed offensive beast of last season with a dominant running game as well.
Stanford fell only 58 yards short of setting a new school rushing record in 2010, and returned all four tailbacks from last season's squad, making their run game as formidable as any in college football:
"We've got four guys who could start at most places," Shaw said. "We're as deep there as anybody in the nation."
They finished with 141 rushing yards and two TD's as a team last Saturday, led by junior Stepfan Taylor. His backups Anthony Wilkerson, Jeremy Stewart and Tyler Gaffney all saw touches as well, giving the Cardinal a lot of different looks out of the backfield despite having similar mixes of power and speed between all of them. But with all of the hype surrounding Luck and his possible Heisman bid coach Shaw has a tough sell when trying to bid this team as a run-first type of program:
"All the offseason talk, everybody knows how good Andrew is," Shaw said. "Which is fine, but we're a running football team. Our offensive football starts and ends with us running the football."
Luck, who was 17 of 26 for 171 yards and two touchdowns last weekend, knows that the Heisman hype is just that, hype, but understands the importance of the run game to the team's success as a whole:
"Since I've been here, it's always been run first," said Luck, "It's sort of engrained and indoctrinated in us when we get here."
As for the Blue Devils, their first week loss to Richmond 23-21 has them looking to bounce back, but know they have a tough road ahead of them with the Cardinal this week. It was their third loss to the Spiders in the last six seasons, but likely won't have much of a confidence boost against 6th ranked Stanford.
For more on Stanford sports, head over to Rule of Tree to get in on the action.