Barry J. Sanders would prefer you drop the Jr. from his name. He likes the emphasis on ‘Barry J,’ which is what his Stanford teammates call him.
Sanders proved elusive last Saturday in a 42-24 road victory at Oregon State, and the 18th-ranked Cardinal (3-1, 2-0 Pac-12) are hoping for a repeat performance this weekend against Arizona.
Sanders needed just seven carries to record a career-high 97 yards and double his career touchdown total by scoring twice.
Sanders, whose father Barry won the 1988 Heisman Trophy Award and went on to a Hall of Fame NFL career with the Detroit Lions, is part of a triple threat out of the Stanford backfield that also includes Christian McCaffrey, whose father Ed also played in the NFL, and Remound Wright, the short-yardage specialist.
Sanders’ 65-yard touchdown run against the Beavers is Stanford’s longest run from scrimmage this season, and it deserved its own highlight reel as he broke a couple of tackles and made others miss.
“It happened so fast,” Sanders said. “I don’t think the guy wrapped up very well. I tried a stiff arm, but I couldn’t quite extend it. The next thing I knew, I was in the end zone celebrating with my teammates.”
Sanders has 157 rushing yards this year and leads the team with 7.8 yards per carry. McCaffrey, who gained a career-high 206 yards against Oregon State, averages 111.2 yards a game, but has yet to score. Wright has 93 yards and leads the team with five touchdowns.
“Coming into this year, all three of us knew how we were and we knew we could be special as a collective unit,” Sanders said. “A little piece of that showed against Oregon State.”
In his fourth year in the program, Sanders may not have developed as quickly as he wanted, though Cardinal coach David Shaw has never tried to rush him.
“People develop at different paces,” Shaw said. “Barry continues to find his way. We continue to challenge Barry to show us, and he continues to respond. He’s still growing as a football player, and he’s been able to get on the football field.”
Sanders said he’s not frustrated and understands Shaw is “utilizing us the best he can.” He may not be playing as much as he’d like, but he’s not complaining either.
“Everything just came together as an offense,” Sanders said. “My goal is every time I go out there, I am going to try and make a play.”