Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey may be a game time decision when it comes to his availability against host Notre Dame on Saturday.
McCaffrey, last year's Heisman Trophy runner-up, was held out of most of the second half in last Saturday's 42-16 loss to Washington State and became a question mark for Stanford (3-2) against the Irish (2-4).
"He got banged up over the course of the game and it didn't make sense to put him back in," Cardinal football coach David Shaw said. "We will be cautious with him as with everybody else. I will have no answer until Friday or maybe Saturday."
McCaffrey seemed healthy when spotted along thew sidelines. He had his helmet on and was moving around around as though he had every intention of going in on the next play.
After rushing for 436 yards over his first three games, all victories, the junior has been limited to 84 total rushing yards over his last two games, both losses.
McCaffrey averages 188.2 all-purpose yards, third among FBS schools in the country. He has not scored a touchdown since the USC game and has three on the season.
Sophomores Bryce Love and Cameron Scarlett would get the bulk of the playing time if McCaffrey can't go.
Cardinal lineman David Bright said it should make no difference who is at running back.
"We want him to play," Bright said. "But it shouldn't matter. If we do our job, we'll be OK."
That's been part of the problem. The offensive line has not been doing its job lately. Shaw called the play of the offensive line "spotty at best," but refused to blame them for all that ails the Cardinal.
"We have been inconsistent one through 11," Shaw said. "It looks like the offensive line because we didn't run with any efficiency early in the game and because of the sacks. We all have a hand in it."
Stanford averaged 2.3 yards per rushing attempt against the Cougars and McCaffrey's 35 yards were his fewest since gaining 19 against California two years ago.
"There are a few things we need to clean up to give our running backs a clear running lane," Bright said. "We haven't been the best offense line in protecting the passer either. We've stressed being an efficient offense on first and second downs."
Shaw evaluated game film in terms of what Stanford did not do well against Washington State.
"I still believe we're a good football team trying to find its way," he said. "We have these things that are correctable and guys who are capable."
The Cardinal needed a last minute touchdown to get by UCLA in week three and fell behind early to both Washington and Washington State. They have been outscored 86-22 since their win over the Bruins.
"It's vital to get the lead, or, at the very least, keep up with the team you're playing against," Shaw said. "If they score first, now you're chasing. It's better to play with the lead."
INJURY NOTES: WR Francis Owusu, who sustained a concussion against UCLA, needs to pass one final test before he's cleared. ... TE Greg Taboada, OL Casey Tucker and CB Quenton Meeks are also close to returning. ... FB Daniel Marx and CB Elijah Holder remain doubtful.