Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

COLLEGE FOOTBALL ; Heisman Runner-Up McCaffrey `Significantly' Better as Junior

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

COLLEGE FOOTBALL ; Heisman Runner-Up McCaffrey `Significantly' Better as Junior

Article excerpt

STANFORD, Calif. - Now here's a scary thought for defenses facing Stanford this season. One year after shattering Barry Sanders' 27- year-old record for all-purpose yards in a season, Heisman Trophy runner-up Christian McCaffrey is back for his junior season as a "significantly better player, according to his coach.

"I'm not trying to say he'll get more yards this year than he did last year. That's not what I'm talking about, coach David Shaw said. "I'm talking about a young man who's maturing. He's a year older. His body is still maturing. He's stronger, he's faster. He knows the offense better. It's been exciting knowing how much easier things are for him and also how hard he works. It's a fun thing to watch.

It will be hard to top what McCaffrey did last season when he ran for 2,019 yards, added 645 yards receiving and 1,200 on returns while scoring 15 touchdowns and setting the NCAA record with 3,864 all-purpose yards 614 more than Sanders had in his Heisman Trophy- winning 1988 season.

But McCaffrey sees plenty of room for improvement and has spent the offseason becoming bigger, faster and more knowledgeable. He is so well-versed in Stanford's playbook in year three in college that he knows the assignments of all 11 offensive players on almost every play.

"That's something I've tried to harp on, he said. "I'm not perfect on all of them. But definitely knowing what they're going to do makes my job a lot easier, especially when you're doing a bunch of things on the field. You have to know a lot of things and the more you know, the better you play.

Few players have ever done as much on the football field as McCaffrey did last year. He was a top runner both inside and when he got out in space. He was Stanford's leading receiver as well, beating defenses out of the backfield or when he lined up outside.

He was a dangerous returner who turned mundane special teams plays into must-watch events and he even threw two touchdown passes.

McCaffrey showed no signs of slowing down last season despite more than 400 touches on offense and special teams, gaining 461 yards in the Pac-12 title game against USC and 368 in a Rose Bowl victory against Iowa. …

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