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Stanford Offense Has Talented Tight Ends Once Again

In the spread happy era of football in the Pac-12, the Stanford Cardinal has made its living playing slightly different. Nowhere is that difference more pronounced than with the Cardinal’s use of their tight ends.

Stanford uses is size at that position – multiple players 6-foot-5 and weighing over 250 pounds – to take advantage of the perimeter oriented secondaries that have difficulty matching up, especially when the players can stay in and make big blocks for the running game or sprint over the middle for a reception on any play.

Former defensive coordinator at USC Monte Kiffin said it best back in 2011 when he said that the tight ends at Stanford look as if they are offensive tackles. Then all at once, one starts sprinting downfield with 4.5 speed.

In past years, especially when the quarterback was Andrew Luck, the tight ends at Stanford took advantage of defenses not being able to read run or pass.

However, four of the TEs that were around with Luck all entered the NFL following the 2012 season and the offense at Stanford sputtered the past couple of season because of that.

Tight ends caught only 10 passes in 2013 and not until at least halfway through 2014 did some sense of cohesion return between quarterback and tight end.

However, it appears for 2015 things are returning to normal. Austin Hooper will return with 40 catches from last season and Dalton Schultz the top ranked tight end in high school from 2014 is ready to play following his redshirt season.

David Shaw the head coach told reporters on media day he loved his group of tight ends. He called the 1-2 punch of Hooper and Schultz phenomenal. He is keen on their athleticism, size and versatility.

Eric Cotton and Greg Taboada are also mismatches at that position. They are versatile enough to be fullbacks on one play and tight end the next, the Cardinal tight ends maybe the most feared foursome in football this season.

Some players on the offense envision the four on the field simultaneously, which could very well happen at some point.

Coaches are calling Schultz a player who could dictate outcomes of games with his talent in the red zone and the way he runs routes.

For over a season, Stanford could not speak about the versatility at the tight end position, but all that has changed. The offense out west at Stanford will be a force, but not in the up-tempo spread setup of most Pac-12 teams, although it will be just as effective or better.

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