Healthy running backs equate to healthy rushing attack


This was the way he envisioned it. The one-two punch of Christian McCaffrey and Bryce Love grinding down an opposing defense.

"First game all year when both guys were 100 percent healthy," said David Shaw, the Director of Football, after his team broke out of an offensive funk to beat Arizona for the fifth straight time, 34-10, on Saturday night in Tucson.

Keller Chryst
McCaffrey (169) and Love (78) combined for 247 rushing yards, helping junior quarterback Keller Chryst secure a win in his first collegiate start.

Love was limited in fall camp and missed the season-opener against Kansas State. McCaffrey sat out the fourth quarter against Washington State and did not play at Notre Dame.

Collectively, they tallied 223 and 189 yards in victories over USC and UCLA, with McCaffrey providing 172 and 138, respectively. But until this week, at least one was restricted in practice.

The timing couldn't have been better for the Cardinal, who had dropped three of its last four games despite several heroic defensive showings. Hampered by injuries, penalties, turnovers and poor execution, the unit struggled to find the end zone until spoiling Arizona's homecoming.

Freshman Nate Herbig came up big in his first start at right guard for injured Johnny Caspers. He was agile and physical, as Stanford compiled 341 yards and crossed the goal line on four occasions.

After turning the ball over 12 times in the previous four games, the Cardinal committed only one on a Chryst interception. Stanford was penalized six times for 55 yards, but one was painful, a holding call nullifying McCaffrey's 66-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter.

McCaffrey also had a 97-yard punt return for a score negated by a penalty against Kansas State.

"It feels good to get a win and get the morale of the offense and defense back," said junior linebacker Bobby Okereke.

Chryst completed 14 of 29 passes for 104 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but was sacked four times and must improve his accuracy.

"He made some plays and missed some plays," said Shaw. "He was not going to be Johnny Unitas out there. We know he's going to continue to grow."

Herbig bailed out Chryst after his second-quarter interception, forcing a fumble by Arizona cornerback Dane Cruikshank that was recovered by Stanford fullback Chris Harrell and returned 15 yards, resulting in a 45-yard field goal by Conrad Ukropina.

Stanford sacked Arizona quarterbacks five times, with six players joining in. Junior lineman Solomon Thomas matched a career-high with 1.5 sacks and sparked the defense to eight tackles for loss. He is tied for 19th nationally in sacks with 7.0.

"It wasn't just Thomas," Shaw said. "A bunch of guys were making plays."

Ten players had three or more tackles.

McCaffrey now ranks sixth in the nation in all-purpose yards, averaging 182.86 per game. He's 19th in rushing at 111.6.

Sophomore Jake Bailey continues to impress. After being named the Ray Guy Punter of the Week for his efforts against Colorado, Bailey averaged 44.7 yards on six punts and two were downed inside the Wildcat 5. He also launched a 57-yarder, pinning Arizona at its 12.

In addition, six of Bailey's seven kickoffs went for touchbacks.

"We've leaned on Jake all year," Shaw said. "He's got to be one of the best in the nation."

Stanford (5-3, 3-3 Pac-12) plays host to Oregon State (2-6, 1-4) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. PT. The Beavers squandered a 24-6 halftime lead against Washington State on Saturday night in Corvallis and fell, 35-31.

Running back Ryan Nall produced 202 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, and quarterback Marcus McMaryion threw for 327 yards and two scores for Oregon State, whose lone conference win came against Cal in overtime.

Extra Points ... McCaffrey's 45-yard first-quarter scoring run was his first for Stanford in a true road game … The Cardinal defense has allowed only one touchdown in each of the past three games. It ranks 18th in the country in scoring defense at 19.0 and is tied for fifth in sacks with 28, four behind leader Alabama (32) … Under Shaw, Stanford is now 19-6 in October and 15-2 coming off a loss … Junior Alameen Murphy started at cornerback in place of Alijah Holder, who is out for the season … Sophomore free safety Ben Edwards intercepted his first pass and carted it 35 yards to set up a 5-yard Chryst to sophomore wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside touchdown pass … Arcega-Whiteside has caught a scoring pass in four of the last six games … Ukropina converted four extra points attempts to increase his school-record to 88 in a row … M-A grad Greg Camarillo, a former walk-on who played wide receiver for four seasons at Stanford and in the NFL from 2005-12, served as honorary captain. He is now coordinator of student-athlete development at the University of San Diego.

Quotable ... "It felt really good to get back to a little bit of a comfort zone." - Christian McCaffrey

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