All Guts and No Glory: The Christian McCaffrey Story

Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl.

Tony Gwynn never won a World Series.

Charles Barkley never won an NBA title.

And damn it, I know it’s hyperbolic, but Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey has yet to score a rushing touchdown.

I know. I know. It’s not the same. But humor me by looking at the stats from the three leading rushers in last Saturday’s win over the Oregon State Beavers:

Player Carries Yards Touchdowns
Remound Wright 7 13 2
Barry J. Sanders 7 97 2
Christian McCaffrey 30 206 0

Stats courtesy of ESPN.com

For those of us who aren’t great with numbers, let me translate: two running backs touched the ball a combined total of 14 times and had four touchdowns. One running back touched the ball thirty (!!) times, became the first Stanford player to rush for 200+ yards in a game since the Toby Gerhart era, and didn’t score a single time.

And it’s not just this week. Through four games, McCaffrey has racked up 445 rushing yards (for now we’ll ignore his receiving and return yards), and last year he had 300. Not one rushing touchdown in 130 attempts.

I say most of this in jest and full of exaggeration, because it seems so unusual for a running back to have that many touches without a rushing score. But make no mistake about it: McCaffrey has plenty of guts, and he’ll get that glory.

Let’s move on to the game review:

As you can see from the stats above, the running backs deserved the game ball. They were absolutely phenomenal, and it was nice to see Barry Sanders finally have an opportunity to show off what everyone hoped he was capable of. McCaffrey, Sanders, and Wright were clutch in the absence of a fully healthy Kevin Hogan, and the offensive line looked much improved from even a couple of weeks ago.

The big news was that Hogan started and played despite the injury he sustained during the USC game. He was clearly limited, only attempting 14 passes, but completing nine of them. He threw two touchdowns, plus a tipped-pass interception that wasn’t his fault. It’ll be interesting to see how he plays this week against Arizona.

The defense struggled a bit early on, but locked down in the second half. The Beavers managed just 111 rushing yards, or as Stanford fans call it: Half a Christian McCaffrey game (they had more rushing touchdowns, however). On the other hand, there were further injuries to Aziz Shittu and Brennan Scarlett, which was concerning. Now is the time for back-ups to step up if Stanford is going to make a run.

Now for a little PAC-12 update:

The big news from last weekend was that Utah basically walked into Eugene, kicked Oregon in the crotch, stole his wallet, and then slept with his wife. At 62-20, it was an absolute mugging. The bottom line is that Oregon’s defense isn’t good, and Oregon’s offense isn’t as good as it has been in years. It’s not a great combo for the boys in neon.

In addition to Stanford and Utah, UCLA, USC, Colorado, and Cal pulled off wins last week, and the Pac-12 continues to amaze and bewilder. Raise your hand if you thought that going into Week 5, Cal would be ranked in the AP Poll and Oregon wouldn’t be? Put your hand down and stop lying. Who had Colorado at 3-1 and Oregon at 2-2? Who had Stanford losing to Northwestern, but upending USC? The PAC-12 drama is clearly in midseason form, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
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