Stanford offense poised to remain productive despite loss of Taylor

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After the 2011 season, Stanford lost head coach Jim Harbaugh. The following season the squad saw the departure of Heisman Trophy runner-up Andrew Luck. Now, the Cardinal must defend their Pac-12 title and look to return to the Rose Bowl without tailback Stepfan Taylor, the program's all-time leader in rushing yards.

Head coach David Shaw is not in the least bit concerned.

“The foundation of the team is the team,” he said Friday at Pac-12 Football Media Day at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, Calif.

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Shaw called David Yankey and the rest of the offensive linemen the core of the running game. “It’s our big guys up front,” he said. “That’s where football starts for us.”

Replacing Taylor’s production (1,530 rushing yards in 2012) as the featured back will mainly fall to Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson. Shaw noted that Gaffney is in great shape, while Wilkerson should shine with more consistent playing time.

“I truly believe in deemphasizing who starts the game,” Shaw said. “Those guys are going to play and play a lot.”

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In fact, Shaw said the Cardinal could play up to five running backs in a game. A lot of their success will depend on quarterback Kevin Hogan taking the next step after going 5-0 as a starter last season as a freshman.

“We’ll overload him in training camp, give him as much as possible,” Shaw said. “We’re going to push the limits.”