What we learned: Stanford spring game

April, 12, 2014
Apr 12
9:05
PM ET

STANFORD, Calif. -- Keeping with the theme of the spring, the Stanford defense further established itself as the team’s dominant unit in the Cardinal and White spring game.

The final score gave the defense a 47-23 victory, but with a quirky scoring system that rewarded the defense for making stops at certain points on the field, there's not much to glean from that number -- especially considering the defense added 14 points late for a pair of mishandled snaps.

Instead, here are three takeaways from the game:

[+] EnlargeKelsey Young
Kyle Terada/USA TODAY SportsKelsey Young played well Saturday before leaving Stanford's spring game with an injury.
1. RBs Barry Sanders and Kelsey Young can be difference-makers.

Through the first session of spring practice, it was presumed that Remound Wright was in the lead to receive the lion's share of the snaps at running back in the fall. However, with Wright suspended for the second session for undisclosed disciplinary reasons, both Sanders and Young took advantage. Last week, it was Young who showcased playmaking ability, but on Saturday it was Sanders. He carried 12 times for 68 yards and caught a pair of passes for 19 yards.

"We’re all rooting for each other," Sanders said of the competition. "Of course it’s competitive, but we know if we’re all successful, then we’re going to have a successful team. Every time a different guy gets in there, we root for them and hope the offensive produces."

Cardinal coach David Shaw said Wright's suspension will have no impact moving forward and that's he a firm believer that as soon as a punishment is carried out, it's in the past.

Young exited early with an injury to his right arm after rushing for 27 yards on seven carries. Shaw said Young would have X-rays to determine the seriousness of the injury.

2. Defense will have depth.

It wasn't just the usual suspects who made an impact defensively for Stanford. While DE Henry Anderson, LB A.J. Tarpley, CB Wayne Lyons and S Jordan Richards all had their moments, lesser-known players such as LB Peter Kalambayi, DT Aziz Shittu, CB Chandler Dorrell and S John Flacco turned in solid days.

Shaw went as far to say that Shittu -- a four-star recruit in 2012 -- was the MVP of the spring. Through his first two seasons with the Cardinal, Shittu's impact has been limited. If he and DE Luke Kaumatule continue to improve, the defensive line will have a chance to have solid depth behind a starting unit that already figured to be among the best in the country.

Linebacker Kevin Anderson, who is expected to take Trent Murphy's spot at outside linebacker, sat out with a minor injury, which allowed Kalambayi to earn extended time with the starting unit. Much like Anderson's role a year ago, he figures to get significant time in the rotation.

"He's ready to play," Shaw said of Kalambayi. "He is fast, he is physical and we're excited about what he can do for us."

Both Dorrell and Flacco had interceptions of backup quarterback Ryan Burns.

3. Return of the tight end.

After the tight ends combined for just 10 receptions last season, it is clear that won't be the case again in 2014. Eric Cotton, in particular, showed he'll be a viable option to contribute as a receiver. He made a nice touchdown grab on a lob from Kevin Hogan to give the offense one of its highlights of the day.

Along with Cotton, Austin Hooper appears to have passed previous starter Charlie Hopkins on the depth chart. Shaw made a point to acknowledge both Cotton and Hooper following the game.

It'll be interesting to see how quickly highly-regarded tight end recruit Dalton Schultz is brought into the mix in fall camp. By most accounts, including rankings from ESPN.com, Schultz was the nation's top high school tight end and should factor into the competition.

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