Barry Sanders couldn't hide his enthusiasm after Saturday afternoon's Cardinal and White Spring Game at sun-splashed Stanford Stadium. The rising-junior running back has been itching to receive more carries, and got his name called 17 times, collecting 72 yards, including a 29-yard scamper on a draw, and juked defenders on two screen passes.
"It felt great," Sanders said. "It's been a long time. It felt great to get into a rhythm. We've had some intra-squad scrimmages and there's been a couple times we're I've been able to get into a rhythm, but not too many times in this stadium, so that was special."
As it did most of the spring, the defense dominated the offense in the early going. Starting quarterback Kevin Hogan tossed a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes to rising-senior wide receiver Devon Cajuste and rising-sophomore tight end Eric Cotton, as the White team (defense) beat the Cardinal team (offense) 47-23.
"It definitely frustrates us when we can't execute," Sanders said. "That's what pushes us to get better and correct our mistakes. Come fall camp, we'll be able to adjust."
Asked what he did best Saturday, Sanders said, "I felt like I ran hard, made some good cuts and made people miss," he said. "There were a couple plays I felt like I missed a couple holes here and there. But I felt I did well."
Competing against a combination of first and second team defenses, Hogan completed 14-of-22 passes for 131 yards and was intercepted once. Rising-sophomore Ryan Burns, also operating against a mix of defenses, connected on 12-of-25 attempts and was sacked six times.
"It makes us better, definitely," Hogan said of going against the defenses in practice. "They hear our calls every day and know our checks (audibles). But it's good, because we still have to run them. Just being able to execute against them is rewarding."
Hogan said his goal Saturday was to enjoy the day.
"The main thing was just to come out and have fun," he said. "We had a good spring and put a lot of work in, and today was kind of a reward for it. We got down early, but the offenses executed in the second half and put points on the board, so we were happy with that."
Hogan is pleased with the progress of his offensive line, which has had to replace three starters.
"It's huge," he said. "We reload each year. The guys that are playing on the offensive line this year have all played before and have experience. I'm expecting big things from them because they are so talented and smart. The way that they played this spring against such a tough front seven … I'm excited for them to show the country that they're ready to go."
Hogan also thinks his three young tight ends Cotton, Austin Cooper and Greg Taboada who redshirted last year, have made great strides.
"We feel comfortable putting all three of them on the field," Hogan said. "They've gotten better each day. They have that playmaking ability at tight end that we lacked before. I'm real excited for them. They're just going to keep working and developing."
Rising fifth-year senior free safety John Flacco intercepted a Hogan pass and was headed to the end zone before officials blew the play dead.
"Devon Cajuste ran over the middle of the field and I went to break on the ball," said Flacco. "Sometimes when you're doing your job, the ball just hits you in the face and you just have to make the play. I was a receiver in high school and probably haven't run one into the end zone since then. It was awesome."
Rising sophomore outside linebacker Peter Kalambayi had a big afternoon, sharing team tackling honors with A.J. Tarpley with seven. His stats included two tackles for loss and two sacks.
"I think I played decent today," Kalambayi said. "There's a lot of things I can do to get better. I need to be stronger at the point of attack and things like that, but I think I have a better understanding of the defense than I had in fall camp. I think I definitely helped myself today, but there's a lot of things I did wrong."
Kalambayi said the defense takes great pride in frustrating the offense.
"Oh definitely," he said. "As defensive players, we always want to get after it. We like celebrating together. We're a close-knit bunch of guys. Every time we make plays, we're all happy for each other, and want to just keep making plays."
Rising senior running back Kelsey Young injured his right arm early in the third quarter and left the field wearing a sling. Stanford coach David Shaw said Young was in considerable pain when he came off the field and will have X-rays to determine the extent of the injury.
More than a dozen former players, including Shayne Skov, Tyler Gaffney, Ben Gardner, Josh Mauro, Ed Reynolds, Cameron Fleming, Trent Murphy and David Yankey attended and signed autographs before the game.
Fans also had the opportunity to have their picture taken with the Tree, 2013 Rose Bowl trophy, 2013 Pac-12 Championship trophy and the Stanford Axe.
Extra points: Shaw said rising-junior Johnny Caspers has a slight edge at the starting right guard job, but the position is still up for grabs … Shaw wasn't pleased that Burns fumbled two snaps, but said he is progressing as a quarterback. "It's a tough defense to learn against," he said. "He's about on pace with every (redshirt) freshmen quarterback we've ever had."… Rising fifth-year senior placekicker Jordan Williamson had a nice game, converting both field goals attempts from 39, 47 while Conrad Ukropina converted from his only attempt from 48 yards … Quarterback-turned-safety Dallas Lloyd collected six tackles, three solo … Wide receiver Ty Montgomery returned to campus on Friday after traveling to Omaha, Neb., to accept The Jet Award as 2013's national return specialist of the year he returned just in time to attend classes. Montgomery is on the mend from knee and shoulder injuries and did not participate in the game. Neither did strong safety Zach Hoffpauir, who is playing for the baseball team.