As offseasons go, you’d think this one would be fairly stable for the Cardinal’s defensive backs. Enter Duane Akina, the heralded defensive backs coach who, even after 35 years on the job, is a master at keeping his players on their toes.
Senior Kelsey Young and junior Barry J. Sanders are competing to lead a running back by committee that — at least at the top of the depth chart — is likely to be one of the most explosive on the Farm in recent memory. But with the departure of bruising, 226-pound back Tyler Gaffney, the position group also loses something it’s valued for so long: size.
This year’s receivers certainly pass the eye test, whether you’re looking at a stat sheet or at the wideouts themselves. But if this unit is truly special, it’s because of the diverse set of weapons behind Touchdown Ty.
Cardinal fans caught a glimpse of some of the position battles unfolding during training camp during Stanford’s open practice on Saturday morning, especially at right guard, inside linebacker and running back.
The Stanford offense has made a practice of retooling after the departures of all-time program greats — most notably, at quarterback in 2012 and at running back in 2013. This year it’s the fullbacks’ turn, as the Cardinal looks to fifth-year senior Lee Ward and senior Patrick Skov to replace three-year starter Ryan Hewitt at the position.
On a retooled offensive line that will need to continue the Cardinal’s dominance up front if Stanford wants a shot at a third straight Pac-12 title, senior Brendon Austin is fighting for the only starting spot that has not yet been won by a member of the former recruiting class of 2012.
Head coach David Shaw hinted at injury news on two fronts after the preseason No. 11 Cardinal wrapped up its first practice of fall camp on Monday afternoon.
Tight end Davis Dudchock announced on Twitter Sunday night that he would be spending his fifth year of eligibility at Vanderbilt, making him the second 2013 Stanford football player to join the Commodores this month.