Ryan Burns

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Stanford hands keys to offense to QB Keller Chryst

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With things not going anywhere close according to plan this season, Stanford head coach David Shaw is in need of a change. This week that change will come at quarterback, where Keller Chryst will get a chance to start his first game with the Cardinal. Chryst will replace Ryan Burns, who has been picked off seven times this season.

”I hate to get to this point,” Shaw said. ”But it’s the best thing for this offense. We need more production at that position. It’s our challenge to support Keller.”

Chryst has attempted 18 passes this season, completing seven for 63 yards with one interception. He has also rushed 11 times for 11 yards.

Stanford’s offensive woes are not to rest squarely on the shoulders of Burns, but one of the biggest ways to spark a struggling offense is to change the quarterback. Shaw hopes this change will turn things around before things get too much worse this season. Stanford’s offensive numbers are down much more than anyone would have expected this season. The Cardinal are averaging just 17.0 points per game and 299.1 yards per game. Stanford has reached the end zone on offense just 10 times. Oklahoma and Texas Tech combined for 17 touchdowns on Saturday.

”I’ve been working with both all year and they’re both great people,” Stanford wide receiver Trent Irwin said. ”Sometimes you just need a change. We’ll see where it goes and have fun with it.”

Stanford takes on Arizona in Tucson this Saturday night.

Stanford rallies to beat Notre Dame as Jimmy Clausen takes aim at Brian Kelly

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Stanford (4-2) scored 17 straight points and pitched a shutout in the second half to stun Notre Dame (2-5) in Notre Dame Stadium, winning by a score of 17-10. It was a night that was led by the Stanford defense, which came up with nine points and had to be won by the Cardinal without Christian McCaffrey, who was out of action with an injury nagging from last week.

Stanford took its first lead of the game in the fourth quarter on a bizarre sequence at the end of an 11-play drive. Stanford running back Bryce Love (129 yards) rumbled toward the goal line but fumbled the football into the endzone. After a scrum, Stanford was awarded the go-ahead touchdown when it was determined Jesse Burkett recovered the fumble.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly pulled his starting quarterback, DeShone Kizer, from the game early in the second half after tossing two interceptions on Notre Dame’s first two possessions of the second half, despite still leading at the time. The first interception was returned for a Stanford touchdown by Quenton Meeks from midfield. Kizer’s second interception came at the end of a 10-play drive on fourth down from the Stanford 38-yard line. Dallas Lloyd returned the interception to the Notre Dame 47-yard line, but the Cardinal would turn the ball right back over to the Irish when Ryan Burns fumbled the football while being sacked by Jonathan Jones. Jamir Jones jumped on the loose ball for the Irish.

Replacing Kizer was Malik Zaire, who showed some signs of bench rust in his first series. Zaire failed to complete either of the two pass attempts he passed, and he picked up just three rushing yards on three rushing attempts. There was certainly no spark there for Notre Dame. Eventually, Kizer returned to the field to lead the offense, and he led the Irish to a late offensive scoring threat with the game on the line.

Former Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen was firing off some fire about the decision to pull Kizer on Twitter, suggesting Kizer should strongly consider leaving Notre Dame for the NFL Draft next season if Kelly doesn’t trust him.

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Apparently, Kelly had a bit of an outburst on the field after the game, as Notre Dame’s final drive was ended on a fourth down attempt for a game-ending turnover on downs.

Notre Dame will get a week off to regroup and figure some things out with their offense. The next time Notre Dame takes the field will be in two weeks back in Notre Dame Stadium when the Miami Hurricanes travel to South Bend. The Hurricanes cracked the top 10 in the polls this season but have now lost two straight game sin ACC play, to Florida State and North Carolina. Miami does play next week, with a Thursday night road trip to Virginia Tech.

Stanford will look to pick up a much-needed win in Pac-12 play next week when they host the surprising Colorado Buffaloes next Saturday in Palo Alto.

Stanford gives Christian McCaffrey a break in spring game

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Of all of the players in college football with something to prove this spring, Stanford’s dynamic Christian McCaffrey is most certainly not among them. The Heisman finalist did it all for the Cardinal en route to a Pac-12 championship last season, which is why David Shaw decided to give McCaffrey a little bit of a break in the spring game on Saturday.

“He went through all the practices,” Shaw said. “For me, it was just a mileage thing. We tried to make sure that we got him completely recuperated before we starting beating him up again.”

McCaffrey put up monster numbers last season in rushing for 2,019 yards on 337 rushing attempts, catching 45 passes for 645 yards, returning 15 punts and 37 kickoffs. He ended his tremendous sophomore season with 2,664 yards from scrimmage and 1,200 special teams yards. McCaffrey did see the field during Stanford’s spring game, calling for a fair catch three teams on punt duty, but that was all fans got to see of the 2015 Heisman Trophy runner-up.

“I wish I could be out here, but it makes sense,” McCaffrey said. “I feel great, and excited to be a part of this team.”

With McCaffrey taking it relatively easy in the spring game, the focus was on the quarterback competition with Ryan Burns and Keller Chryst attempting to replace Kevin Hogan. Shaw said he will have to look at the film before making any determination in which quarterback performed better, but the box score showed a pretty even afternoon for each. Burns completed 17 of 23 pass attempts for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Chryst completed 16 of his 25 attempts for 156 yards and he led two scoring drives.

“Hard to say who had the upper hand,” Shaw said. “We have to see what the decision making looked like. I was excited to see both guys come back and make some big-time throws. There were a lot of positives for both guys.”