Stanford defensive end Aziz Shittu, left, takes down Northwestern running back Justin Jackson during an NCAA college football against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill. (Matt Marton/AP)

Stanford offense keeps D rested

Defensive end Aziz Shittu plays more than his coaches would like and he welcomes the opportunity. A lack of depth along No. 8 Stanford’s defensive front has forced him into extensive playing time.

Shittu has a secret weapon for staying rested, though, and it’s the Cardinal offense.

“Our offense does a great job of staying on the field,” Shittu said as Stanford prepared for a road trip at Washington State on Saturday. “We always seem rested.”

The Cardinal (6-1, 5-0 Pac-12) lead the conference in time of possession, averaging nearly 36 minutes a game. That’s a product of Stanford’s commitment to the run game and the fact it rarely uses an up-tempo offense. The Cardinal have rushed for at least 100 yards in 41 of their past 44 games.

Throw in a conference-leading passing efficiency rating of 174.6 and Stanford controls the tempo of its contests.

Shittu is also a part of the Pac-12’s leading defensive team, though the Cougars, who average over 500 yards a game, will put that to the test.

“It will be a test of wills all night,” Shittu said. “Washington State is a great team and they will be throwing the ball 40-50 times. You just have to keep on going.”

Stanford could get some relief up front with the possible return of senior outside linebacker Kevin Anderson, who has missed five games with an unspecified injury.

“He practiced a little bit and he’ll go a little bit more,” Cardinal coach David Shaw said. “At the end of the week we’ll see where he is.”

Anderson was one of just two returning starters, with Blake Martinez, on defense for Stanford. Active in pass coverage, he’s also an effective pass rusher.

The forecast calls for rain in the Pullman area this weekend. The Cardinal have yet to play in inclement weather as Northern California remains in drought conditions.

“Can we still play at a high level?” Shaw asked. “It’s just another challenge.”

Running back Christian McCaffrey, the national leader in all-purpose yards, is physically holding up.

“We’re conscious of it and try to take care of it to a certain degree during the week,” Shaw said. “He only knows two speeds: On and Off.”

The Cardinal are 13-5 all-time in games played on Halloween.

Stanford has won its last seven games against Washington State, matching the program’s second-longest active streak against any one school.

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