The Stanford football team received more unfortunate news on Tuesday. Stanford head coach David Shaw announced that junior running back E.J. Smith, the team’s starter, is out for the season due to injury concerns.
This news comes at the heels of other injury-related news for the Cardinal, including the retirement of senior guard Branson Bragg and injuries to senior tackles Myles Hinton and Walter Rouse. Hinton and Rouse remain questionable for Saturday’s game against Oregon.
“I know it’s really disappointing for him,” Shaw said about Smith. “Disappointing for the whole team. Think he’s a special young man and a special football player and was just really coming into his own.”
Smith had a solid start to the season, accumulating 206 rushing yards and four touchdowns through two games before exiting the USC game early. He also added eight receptions for 63 yards receiving.
It’s believed that Smith got banged up during the USC game, but it’s unclear where and when the injury took place.
“We had him out at the beginning of the second half,” Shaw said after the USC game. “You know, probably could’ve gone back out there, but we pulled the plug.”
When prompted on when Smith got injured, Shaw replied on Tuesday with “no comment.”
Junior running back Casey Filkins will now be tasked with filling the role of the offense’s featured back. Even with Smith out, Shaw remains confident in the running game, and in particular Filkins’ ability.
“Casey has just got so many abilities,” Shaw said. “He’s got the ability to be fast, quick and explosive. He’s got vision. He’s got the balance to change direction and make people miss. For a guy who’s not the biggest guy, he gets yards after contact.”
With Smith out, it seems like carries will be less evenly distributed. During the Washington game, in which Smith sat, Filkins received 20 carries but no other running back had more than one. It remains to be seen if junior Caleb Robinson, sophomore Brendon Barrow or freshman Arlen Harris will be asked to step up as a second option for Stanford.