After his three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, running back Stepfan Taylor is likely Stanford’s biggest loss heading into 2013.
Taylor was a complete back who could do it all. He could run between the tackles, outrun defenders, and catch passes out of the backfield.
However, the Cardinal received an addition almost as significant earlier this month when Tyler Gaffney announced his return to the team after skipping last season to pursue his baseball career.
”As I have grown and matured over the past year, I have come to realize how much I missed my football family at Stanford and how much I missed the game of football,” said Gaffney according to Antonio Gonzalez of The Associated Press.
Gaffney’s return is welcome news on the Farm. In 2011, the junior running back posted 449 yards and seven touchdowns on only 74 carries.
The veteran will provide some much-needed experience in a relatively unseasoned corps of running backs with the departure of Taylor.
Gaffney’s value can be seen in his size as well as his talent. Without a complete back such as Taylor, the Cardinal will likely have a more specialized ground game in 2013.
The highly-touted 2012 recruit Barry Sanders Jr. will likely get a healthy dose of touches in 2013. While Sanders is an extremely talented, shifty back, he only weighs 191 pounds.
Though Anthony Wilkerson also returns to the team at 220 pounds, Gaffney will add some valuable bulk to the Cardinal’s stable of running backs, weighing in at 216 pounds.
Gaffney eclipsed Wilkerson in terms of production in 2011, a pattern that will likely be repeated in 2013.
The senior’s seven touchdowns in 2011 also reinforce this prediction. Gaffney’s high production around the goal line shows that he should continue to be the team’s main short-yardage back during the upcoming season.
Losing an all-around talent like Taylor would hurt any team. However, the addition of Gaffney will significantly ease the pain and take some pressure off of the extremely talented but young quarterback Kevin Hogan and his depleted receiving corps.
Gaffney will add key experience and bulk to the Cardinal offense, and will look to help the team make another run at the Pac-12 championship in 2013.