Sophomore fullback Daniel Marx doesn't have a carry this season, and that's just fine with him.
His job is to clear the path for teammates Christian McCaffrey, Remound Wright, Barry Sanders and Bryce Love, and he did another superb job last Thursday night, helping Stanford rush for more than 300 yards in a dominating 56-35 victory over visiting UCLA.
"I trust our coaches to put us in the right situations every time," said the first-year starter from Trabuco Canyon in Southern California. "I go out there every day in practice and try to make my team better. The line has been blocking extremely well and makes it easier for me. I love what's happening to far."
What's it like for him to block for McCaffrey, who ran for four touchdowns against the Bruins?
"It's unbelievable," he said. "To see that end result in the end zone, Christian being there, seeing everything come together with the O-line, our receivers blocking down field. It's the greatest feeling ever."
It has become a mutual admiration society.
"He puts a lot of praise on all of us," said Marx of McCaffrey. "We try to put it back on him because he's doing so well. It's amazing to watch."
O-line has jelled
Senior offensive guard and team captain Joshua Garnett said the line has jelled since an opening-season loss at Northwestern. In each of the past three games, Stanford has rushed for over 300 yards.
"The line has been in a groove," he said.
The line takes great pride blocking for McCaffrey, who ran for a school-record 243 yards on 25 attempts and did not have a negative carry.
"He's a next-level player," said Garnett. "He makes us look good. It's hard to explain him. He's an outstanding player. If you make holes for him or get a little bit of movement for him, he'll spring it. Give him a little bit of a crease and he'll be gone."
Cardinal now No. 10
Stanford (5-1), who plays host to Washington (3-3) on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m., jumped five spots to No. 10 in Sunday's latest AP poll and is No. 11 in the Amway Coaches' poll.
Buzz on 'The Catch'
The nation is still buzzing about the spectacular 41-yard touchdown reception made by junior wide receiver Francis Owusu.
Social media blew up, and Owusu was the talk of college football on Friday, especially on the East Coast, where many fans had gone to bed given the late start on the West Coast.
Many are calling it the catch of the year and arguably the best in program history. Two years ago, that honor belonged to sophomore wide receiver Kodi Whitfield, who reached back with his right hand and made a sensational one-handed grab of a Kevin Hogan pass between two UCLA defenders at the goal line to complete a 30-yard touchdown play.
Whitfield is now a starting strong safety and had a good view of Owusu's catch on Thursday night.
"I've been challenging Francis just to make plays and play free," Whitfield said. "And just to see him make that kind of catch … he tried to one-up me a little bit."
Which one was better?
"I don't know," laughed Whitfield.
Whitfield, who transitioned to safety last season after playing wide receiver his first two years, made his first collegiate interception against the Bruins and nearly picked off another.
"It's always great to have a team win and to see all phases play like that," he said. "Our goal is to be 1-0 every week. We don't think of the record as a whole or what's in front of us. We're always keeping our eyes on that windshield and our eyes on the road ahead."
Former Stanford standout John Lynch served as the team's honorary captain. He came to The Farm as a quarterback and was converted to safety by head coach Bill Walsh, flourishing is his new role. Lynch was a fearless competitor and hard hitter, who played in the NFL for 15 seasons, earning nine Pro Bowl selections.
Now an analyst on FOX for NFL games, he gave a rousing speech to Stanford players on Wednesday night during their team meeting.
"He challenged us," said Whitfield. "He told us that the defense isn't playing to our potential and that we're leaving some plays out there."
Fifth-year senior cornerback and captain Ronnie Harris agreed.
"Truly a humbling experience," he said. "My dad was a (Tampa Bay) Buccaneers fan. Growing up, I used to watch John Lynch every Sunday and my dad told me if you can play the game with that much passion, you'll be alright. When you can have an honorary captain like that who played as long as he did and well as he did, there is nothing like it."
Lynch was invited to join the defensive backs in their postgame huddle afterward in the locker room.
They formed a circle, chanted and rocked back and forth. He then broke up the group with a high-five and yelled, "Win!"
"Once you're a Stanford DB, you're always a DB," said Harris.
After reeling off four consecutive wins against UFC, USC, Oregon State and Arizona, the Cardinal had a bye last week. There was no sign of a letdown against UCLA.
"That's a testament to our coaches, our strength and conditioning staff and also to our players," Harris said. "We get on somebody when they're not going 100 percent and nobody gets mad when you call them out. We push each other and the sky is the limit. I don't think we've played our best game by any stretch of the imagination. So we'll come out next week and try to put a perfect game on the table."
Stanford and Washington have played one common opponent this season: USC. Both teams won in Los Angeles, the Cardinal prevailing over the then-No. 6 Trojans, 41-31, and Huskies emerging with a 17-12 triumph.
McCaffrey regained the No. 1 spot in the country in all-purpose yardage. He now averages 253.0 yards/game, rushing for 844, 172 in receiving and 502 in returns . . . Senior inside linebacker Blake Martinez is third in the nation in tackles per game, averaging 11.7 . . . Hogan is 22nd in completion percentage at .659 . . . The Stanford offense ranks third in time of possession, averaging 35 minutes/game . . . The Cardinal offense ranks 17th in scoring at 38.5, and 37th in scoring defense at 21.7 . . . Stanford is 4-0 in Pac-12 play and averaging 48.5 points in those contests.
"He's a big back in a little body." - Stanford head coach David Shaw on Christian McCaffrey