Aug. 16, 2012
As the cornerstone of the Stanford offense for the last several seasons, the recent success of the Cardinal ground attack has produced four of the school's top five single-season rushing marks in each of the last four seasons. That streak looks to remain active for at least one more campaign.
The Cardinal will lean heavily on the efforts of Doak Walker candidate Stepfan Taylor, who figures prominently on many Stanford career lists entering his final season. Taylor ranks fourth on the school's all-time career list with 2,770 yards and needs 1,263 more to tie Darrin Nelson for first place. Even more, his 27 career rushing touchdowns are tied for third all-time with Brad Muster (1984-87). Taylor is one of six Stanford backs to record a 1,000-yard season and just the third back to register back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, joining Nelson (1977-78) and Toby Gerhart (2008-09).
Among Taylor's company in the backfield is the often underrated and overlooked fullback Ryan Hewitt. Hewitt has proven to be one of the most versatile fullbacks in the country, tallying only 35 yards on 10 rushes as a sophomore but averaging 21.7 yards per reception with 34 snags to yield 282 yards and five touchdowns.
Paving the way for the productivity of the running game is a formidable offensive line which includes Sam Schwartzstein, a fifth-year senior who recently earned a spot on the Rimington Trophy preseason watch list. Schwartzstein will be flanked by a host of body-pushers in the trenches not limited to returning starters David Yankey and Cameron Fleming.
Stanford rushed for a collective 2,738 yards (210.6 yards per game) and 32 touchdowns in 2012, highlighted by a single-game school record 446 yards rushing in a 65-21 rout of No. 22 Washington.