Stanford opens training camp Monday with a bevy issues to resolve before the Aug. 30 season opener against UC Davis and the Week 2 showdown against USC.

Here a look at the to-do list:

  • Lines of communication.

    The offensive line -- the unit at the heart of the Cardinal's power running game -- returns just one starter, Andrus Peat, one of the top left tackles in the country.

    Spring practice provided significant clarity, with Joshua Garnett taking over at left guard and Kyle Murphy establishing himself at right tackle. In addition, Graham Shuler became the heavy favorite to start at center and Johnny Caspers at right guard.

    Coach David Shaw believes this is the most talented line of his coaching tenure, but cohesion is critical up front. How long will it take four first-time starters to coalesce into a unit that functions as one?

    The deadline is Sept. 6, when USC All-American Leonard Williams pays a visit.

  • Tailback rotation.

    Tyler Gaffney accounted for 59 percent of Stanford's rushing yards and 70 percent of its rushing touchdowns last season.

    The considerable void left by his departure creates an opportunity for the four veteran tailbacks left behind: Kelsey Young, Barry Sanders, Ricky Seale and Remound Wright.

    Wright, the most experienced member of the quartet with a whopping 20 carries last fall, was suspended for the second half of spring practice and lost ground relative to his competitors.


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    The best bet: Stanford starts 2014 just as it started 2013, with a tailback-by-committee approach. Remember, Gaffney didn't take control of the position until October, and that turned out okay.

    "If one guy gets more of the lion's share, that means he's learn earned it, and that will be great,'' Shaw said.

  • Looking for leaders.

    Stanford not only lost four all-conference defensive players in Shayne Skov, Ben Gardner, Trent Murphy and Ed Reynolds; it lost four immensely respected voices in locker room.

    Safety Jordan Richards and inside linebacker A.J. Tarpley possess the experience and personality to fill the vacuum left by Skov and Co., and both began to assume the role in the offseason. Who else will step forward? And how quickly?

    "We caution them: 'Don't try to be Shayne Skov, don't try to be somebody else,''' Shaw said. "Lead with your own personality."

  • Depth in the trenches.

    The Cardinal was so thin on the defensive line midway through last season that it brought in reinforcements in the form of outside linebacker Blake Lueders and tight end Luke Kaumatule.

    The departures of Gardner and Mauro have left Stanford searching for options once again.

    Henry Anderson is one of top ends in the Pac-12, while David Parry emerged last season as a force in the middle. But help is needed at the other end and throughout the second unit.

    The options include Lueders, Kaumatule, Aziz Shittu, Ikenna Nwafor, Jordan Watkins and possibly true freshman Solomon Thomas.