With or Without McCaffrey, Expect Stanford’s struggles to continue

By Ryan Decker

Stanford (3-2) head coach David Shaw told reporters following the Cardinal’s second loss of the season on Saturday that his star running back Christian McCaffrey “did get banged up.”

There has been little to no update on McCaffrey’s status for Stanford’s upcoming game against Notre Dame this weekend, with Shaw’s only comments since coming on Tuesday when he told reporters that the junior tailback is improving.

However, according to Ashley Adamson, his status for this weekend remains up in the air.

McCaffrey’s injury has not been disclosed to the media, though original reports said Shaw would update the status during the middle portion of the week. When that is remains to be seen.

No matter if the single-season all-purpose yards leader plays this weekend or not, things have been, and will continue to stay, tough for Stanford over the next few weeks.

This weekend’s game against Notre Dame in South Bend will pit two teams with their backs against the wall against one another. Stanford will try to avoid its first three-game losing streak since 2008, while Notre Dame is enduring its roughest stretch of games since losing four in a row to end the 2014 campaign and is looking to change the narrative of this season.

Despite Notre Dame’s tough going, the Irish are still plenty talented on offense, and defenses have had no problem containing the Cardinal offense, even with McCaffrey on the field.

Stanford has failed to score 30 points in a game this year, and McCaffrey’s combined rushing totals over the last two games don’t even add up to 90 yards.

In fact, if he does play this weekend and the Irish hold him to fewer than 100 yards rushing, he would match the number of games that happened all of last season at three.

McCaffrey has struggled.

Outside of his 172-yard performance against USC, his season has been rather lackluster. Opposing teams have been keying in on the run, and have been keeping him contained in the passing game as well.

After its meeting with Notre Dame, Stanford returns home to face a Colorado team that is off to a good start to its season, and has one of the better defenses in the Pac-12.

It’s possible that Shaw’s team could drop to below .500 after the next two games, which obviously would add the Cardinal to the list of teams that started the season with such high hopes but have failed to live up to those expectations.

With that said, here are new expectations: McCaffrey, if truly banged up, will continue to struggle. And even if he is healthy, his numbers won’t be anything close to what they were last year.

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