STANFORD -- Spring practice has provided answers for Stanford on multiple fronts, with the offensive line standing as the greatest example: Despite losing four starters up front, the Cardinal has its quintet for 2014 essentially set.

But several positions remain in flux, including tailback, inside linebacker and free safety. The Cardinal and White spring game Saturday (1 p.m. at Stanford Stadium) could add a heaping spoonful of clarity.

The scrimmage will feature an offense against defense format, with live tackling (except for the quarterbacks), game officials and a scoring system for the defense designed to create competition.

It's the closest Stanford will get to game conditions in an eight-month span from the Rose Bowl to the Aug. 30 season opener.

"We'll see if guys who haven't had a lot of game experience can play well,'' coach David Shaw said.

Of particular interest to Shaw is the tailback position, where the competition remains fierce, and resolution is not expected until training camp, at the earliest.

Remound Wright won't play because an undisclosed disciplinary violation. Barry Sanders, Ricky Seale and Kelsey Young will receive the majority of the carries, with each getting a turn (or two) behind the first-team offensive line.

"Every day, somebody does something special,'' Shaw said of the tailbacks. "It's not a competition so much as a showcase.''

  • Kyle Olugbode, a senior from Bellarmine College Prep in San Jose, is the front-runner to replace all-conference free safety Ed Reynolds.

    The 205-pound Olugbode is physical enough to handle run-support duty that usually falls on strong safety Jordan Richards.

    "We could just have right and left safeties instead of making a distinction between free and strong,'' defensive coordinator Lance Anderson said.

    "That would make it easier to get lined up. A lot of teams in our league like to play fast.''

    Kodi Whitfield, who switched to safety from receiver, "has made major strides,'' Anderson said.

  • Reserve quarterback Evan Crower is expected to be held out of the scrimmage because of a deviated septum.

    Junior Kevin Hogan will operate the first-team offense, with redshirt freshman Ryan Burns leading the second team.

    That doesn't mean Burns is ready to challenge Crower for the backup role -- yet.

    "(Burns) is still learning, and it's not a competition until you know it all,'' Shaw said. "He's right where all our guys have been at the end of their freshman year."

  • Receiver Ty Montgomery (knee, shoulder) and cornerback Alex Carter (hip) are out, but both are expected to be ready for training camp.

  • Admission to the spring game is free. Concessions and merchandise will be sold throughout the event.

    After the game, all current Stanford players and departed members of last year's team, including linebacker Shayne Skov and tailback Tyler Gaffney, will be available for autographs.

    The game will be televised nationally by the Pac-12 Networks.

    For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner's College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports. Contact him at jwilner@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5716.

    cardinal and white SPRING GAME

    Stanford offense vs. Stanford defense, 1 p.m. Saturday, at Stanford Stadium