Stanford’s head coach has a surprisingly strong track record at RB from his time at Utah and Sacramento State. Could there be a future pig at his latest stop? Yes.

We lived on farms, then we lived in cities, and now we’re going to live on the internet!

– Sean Parker, The Social Network (2010)

Football. It’s the first thing you think about when you hear the name Stanford University. Indeed, if not for the College Football (CFB) program, this school really wouldn’t have much else going for it. “That small school near Berkley” is probably how everyone would refer to it. Instead, now it’s “the school Christian McCaffrey played at.”

Yessir, football can do wonders for an academic institution. Unfortunately, since those days when CMAC was prowling the sidelines of Stanford stadium, there’s not been much to get excited about with the Cardinal. So-called academic restrictions limit the program’s recruiting capability, apparently making this a very tough job. I don’t know… I’m not buying it. The only smart person I know from Stanford was Justin Timberlake in Social Network, and I’m not even sure he went there.

Now, I won’t speak for you, but it’s going to take some getting used to for me to wrap my head around Stanford — a program located in California — now being a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). They’ll be playing teams all along the East Coast now, and occasionally, it’s cross-state rival Cal (obviously, this rivalry couldn’t be dissolved in realignment—CFB wouldn’t be the same without it).

Last year, the Cardinal administration moved on from longtime head coach David Shaw and subsequently hired former head coach of the FCS program Sacramento State— Troy Taylor. Taylor brings with him his own set of tendencies as a play caller, and while we typically don’t think about Stanford as CFF players, we should probably do our due diligence in looking at this program.

Coaching & System

Stanford’s nomenclature for staff members is weird. It took me a few minutes to understand what exactly everyone is doing in this organization. 

To interpret, Troy Taylor is the head coach, and there is no offensive coordinator. There are four (yes, four) offensive analysts, though.

So, let’s take a look at Taylor, shall we? He was the head coach of the FCS program Sacramento State from 2019-22 before joining Stanford. Prior to that, he was the OC of the Utah Utes from 2017-18. Prior to that, he was the OC of the FCS program in Eastern Washington. 

Now, I know, I know, Stanford wasn’t very good this year for College Fantasy Football (CFF) assets, especially the RB position (the top two leading rushers on the team were QBs, go figure). But, contrary to what you might expect, Coach Taylor has a pretty nice breadcrumb trail of pigs in his backfields. 

Let’s start with his previous stop. At Sacramento State, current Arizona State Sun Devil Cam Skattebo ran for 1,372 yards and seven TDs on 195 carries. Troublingly, he was actually outcarried by the QB2, Asher O’Hara, who ran 212 times for 938 yards and 19(!) TDs. That’s apparently a theme with Taylor’s teams, he typically uses multiple QBs, and they are expected to run for their fucking lives.

O’Hara led the team in rushing in the previous season with 162 carries for 663 yards and nine touchdowns. The RB production was not good, so I won’t waste time writing it out for you. Ditto for 2020 and 2019. 

It’s his time at Utah that caught my eye. Utah RB1 Zack Moss crossed 1,000 yards rushing in back-to-back seasons in 2017 and 2018. He carried the football 209 and 179 times, respectively. Those carry numbers are a bit worryingly low to give Taylor the coveted pig-farming designation, but it’s better than nothing. QB Tyler Huntley was second and third on the team in rushing in each of those seasons. As I said, the QB is a focal point of the run game under Taylor, and this will always limit the upside of his RBs.

Taylor also the OC’d Eastern Washington in 2016. His leading rusher was his QB, Gage Gubrud, who rushed 134 times for 814 yards and five scores. 

A Future Pig in Palo Alto?

The four-star RB out of Florida, Cole Tabb, was a late riser in 247 Sports’ rankings in the 2024 cycle. The 5’7.5” 195-pound tailback finished the cycle as 247’s 20th-ranked RB in their internal rankings and a composite three-star. Here is what 247 said about his rise in their rankings in February 2024:

Possesses the build to excel at running back with a 5-foot-7-plus, 190-pound stature coupled with impressive functional athleticism and verified speed markers in multiple settings. Tabb, who ran for nearly 5,500 career yards at Fort Walton Beach (Fla.) Choctawhatchee, finished his senior year with 1,826 yards and 18 touchdowns on 8.65 yards per carry.

Tabb owns verified 4.5 combine speed, as well as a handful of sub-11.00-second 100-meter times, including a couple wind-aided 10.8-second reps and a 10.99-second time into a slight headwind. Tabb also boasts Florida 3A weight lifting title, which came as a junior when he snatched 240 pounds, cleaned 335 and benched 305.

The combination of speed, explosion, power, and production — not to mention the naturally low center of gravity and pad level — makes Tabb a talented back who could become an NFL Draft candidate down the road.

247’s report on Tabb is certainly exciting, but we should probably look at who else is in the room, too. The rising sophomore out of Miami, Sedrick Irvin Jr., returns, and he apparently squatted 500 pounds last week. Irvin didn’t play much last season, but he did have a single-game high of ten carries for 66 yards and a score vs. Arizona. Irvin is the most likely candidate to secure the top spot on the depth chart.

Last year’s RB1— E.J. Smith, moved on to Texas A&M this offseason. He vacates 86 total touches, over 450 yards, and one score. So… not much is vacating the roster. Again, the leading rushers last season were both QBs. 


Tabb is not a player worth drafting in a regular CFF format unless you’re feeling extraordinarily experimental. 

His value is as a deep flyer in best ball formats or extremely deep regular leagues and as a dynasty asset. It’s early days yet, so who knows where Tabb will be on the hierarchy this upcoming season, but this is a backfield to watch in the offseason, because there could be some alpha for us as drafters in the summer.

While Irvin might be listed as #1 on the depth chart, I’d actually conjecture that the QB (probably Ashton Daniels) is really the RB1 this upcoming season.

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