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Love is a question mark for Stanford's season opener

 

Stanford football coach David Shaw announced speedy running back Bryce Love, who is dealing with a lower body injury, is questionable for Friday night's season opener against visiting Kansas State.

That's a blow to the Cardinal offense, which will feature first-time starter Ryan Burns at quarterback.


Bryce Love/Photo by Shirley Pefley
Fortunately, Heismann Trophy runner-up Christian McCaffrey is healthy and will also take over short yardage duties for the graduated Remound Wright this year. That has the junior running back excited to score more touchdowns.

"We've had a lot of success. It's going to be a lot of fun," McCaffery said during Monday's press conference. "We have a great group of O-line that can definitely get the job done. I feel confident back there."

Any worries from Shaw?

"Christian McCaffrey has been locked in since about 10 minutes after the Rose Bowl," Shaw said.

According to ESPN's David Lombardi, Stanford named redshirt sophomore Bobby Okereke, who has performed in Carnegie Hall, as a first-time starter at inside linebacker.

"He's had the best camp of all our inside linebackers, and that's saying something," Shaw said.

The Cardinal plan to rotate 4-5 players through two inside linebacker spots.

"I think they're going to shock the world," McCaffrey said of Stanford's defense. "I think they're going to open a lot of eyes."

Defensive end Solomon Thomas is inclined to agree.

"If we play to our highest potential, we'll be unstoppable," he said.

The defensive line bears little resemblance to last year's thin line, especially with the return of Harrison Phillips, a tackle who missed nearly all of last season with an injury. The linebacker corps also is deep, with 4-5 players expected to rotate in and out of the lineup. And the secondary may be even deeper.

A lot of the improved line depth is due to the emergence of sophomore defensive end Dylan Jackson.

"We have six guys now that can come in and play and because Dylan Jackson came in and worked extremely hard," Shaw said. "Dylan has matured so much. He's learned a lot with technique, how to use his hands, what to do within the defense."

Thomas also has noticed his teammate's improvement.

"I've seen his technique grow better and better," Thomas said. "I feel like he matured mentally, in understanding schemes, and in what's going on."

However, Stanford did lose leading tackler Blake Martinez to graduation -- a potentially big loss. How will the Cardinal overcome it?

"We're not asking for any superheroes," Thomas said. "We're not asking for another Blake Martinez. All we're asking for is the next man to step up and do his job. And every one to do their jobs and we'll all be fine."

Redshirt sophomore tight end Dalton Schultz, on the John Mackey Award Watch List, will be available according to Shaw.

Stanford grad now a Spartan

Wide receiver Dontonio Jordan, who graduated as a psychology major, will use his final year of eligibility at San Jose State.

Jordan appeared in nine games with the Cardinal in three years, catching a pass in the Foster Farms Bowl Game against Maryland.

Sanders set in Stillwater

Running back Barry J. Sanders is using his final year of eligibility to play at Oklahoma State.

Sanders carried the ball 51 times for 315 yards and four touchdowns in 11 games last year with Stanford.

He's the son of 1988 Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders, who also played at Oklahoma State.

Sanders is listed third on the depth chart at running back, but will be the Cowboys main kickoff returner. He's also listed as a punt returner.

More on Stanford football from Andy Drukarev

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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