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August 15, 2014

Taylor talks running backs

Through a little less than two weeks of training camp, there's still plenty to be sorted out in Stanford's running back competition.

"(It's a) really talented and deep group," Cardinal running backs coach Lance Taylor said. "We have several guys that we feel pretty comfortable with and can all handle what we're asking them to do. We just have to see who separates themselves within the next couple of weeks."

With Remound Wright serving the final few days of his disciplinary absence, Taylor has gotten a close look at Stanford's three primary running back candidates - Kelsey Young, Barry Sanders and Ricky Seale - as well as a new entrant into the competition, freshman Christian McCaffrey.

What does each back do well?

"If you start out with Kelsey Young, his explosiveness, his burst when he as the ball in his hands," Taylor said.

"Barry (is) really good at making a guy miss. Exploding through a hole and making the defender miss is what he does best."

"Ricky really does a little bit of everything well. He's really good at running inside zone, outside zone, which we run a lot of. He's done a nice job in pass protection as well for us."

"And then Christian, the young guy, he's still getting his feet wet, but he does a lot of things well and flashes doing a lot of things - catching the ball, running the ball inside, making defenders miss, so he's going to be exciting to watch."

Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren said earlier in camp that the Cardinal considered Young its starter coming out of spring ball. According to Taylor, the Southern California native has maintained a high level of play into camp.

"I've been really pleased with Kelsey and the way he's running the ball really tough in between the tackles," Taylor said. "He's been running with great pad level. We've all kind of known him as the guy on the perimeter who can run the ball because of his speed, but he's been doing such a nice job running the ball tough in between the tackles, taking hits, making spin moves, running through arm tackles. So he's done a really nice job."

As for McCaffrey, Stanford head coach David Shaw said earlier this week that the Colorado native was the Stanford freshman most likely to play this year. Taylor said that McCaffrey's approach to college football could allow him to get on the field early.

"I think the first thing is just off the field he is very mature," Taylor said. "He's really taken time to delve into the playbook and ask questions, he does a great job in the meetings and studying beforehand. So mentally being prepared really helps him. And then physically he has a great set of tools. We all saw his highlight and what he does with the ball in his hands and I think he's done the same thing for us out here on the field. Most of the time with freshmen or new guys, it's all how they can handle it mentally, and I think he's done a great job. He's very mature."

Of course, before Stanford's coaching staff determines how reps will be divided among the Cardinal's backs, they will first take an extensive look at each player's ability as a pass protector.

"I think they've all done a really nice job improving from spring, understand what we're trying to get done in pass protection," Taylor said. "Now we just have to do a better job of being physical in the pass game because as you know, we're usually taking on a linebacker or even a looping defensive linemen that may outweigh us or we may be overmatched, but we still have to protect our quarterback. So that's going to be the biggest thing - who can be the most physical."

  • Kelsey Young was spotted leaving the practice field in a walking boot on Thursday. However, according to Taylor, Young is not seriously injured and was wearing the boot only as a precautionary measure.

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