STANFORD -- Tavita Pritchard found his calling in the fall of 2009 after Andrew Luck beat him out for the starting quarterback job at Stanford.
Pritchard just didn't know it at the time.
"He didn't have the quarterback coach title because he was the backup," Stanford coach David Shaw said Friday after practice. "But he was phenomenal. You could ask Andrew about it."
Pritchard has the title now. Four years after predicting he would give Pritchard his first coaching job, Shaw promoted him to quarterbacks coach to succeed Mike Sanford, who is leaving to become offensive coordinator at Boise State, his alma mater.
Sanford will stay with the Cardinal through the Rose Bowl against Michigan State, before Pritchard moves over from running backs coach to the assistant in charge of quarterbacks and wide receivers.
"Going back to that year," Shaw said of the '09 season, "I've always known he was a superstar in the making as a coach."
Pritchard had no idea. "He kind of knew which direction I was headed, even if I didn't," Pritchard said of Shaw, who at the time was a top aide on Jim Harbaugh's staff.
Two years earlier, in Harbaugh's debut season, it was Pritchard, in his first start as a sophomore, who threw the game-winning touchdown pass with 49 seconds left at the L.A. Coliseum to beat No. 2 USC 24-23.
Stanford's fortunes began to change that day, but by his senior season, Pritchard could not hold off Luck for the starting job.
"I was a little bit relegated to being on the sideline and seeing what that life was like wearing the headset and holding the clipboard," Pritchard said.
"Today was honestly the first day he started looking like himself," Shaw said. "He's starting to get some live legs back."
Before the season, Shaw projected a running-back-by-committee arrangement to replace graduated Stepfan Taylor. But Gaffney, back from a stint playing minor league baseball, took charge, rushing for 1,618 yards and 20 touchdowns.
"He became the committee," Shaw said.
The Oregon game, in which Gaffney carried the ball 45 times, was the only time all season Shaw had to pull him from the field. "He wasn't hurt, he was just dead."
For Gaffney, desire is as big a weapon as strength and size.
"We're not running a whole bunch of toss plays outside against defensive backs. He's running between the tackles play after play," Shaw said. "He's got that mentality that he kind of craves it."
"He'd drop back and if there was nobody open, he'd take off and run people over," Shaw said. "He doesn't shy away from contact."
Stanford expects at least three quarterbacks to return from this year's team, including starter Kevin Hogan. The school also expects to sign four-star prospect Keller Chryst of Palo Alto High.
Stanford gave fans the chance to buy Rose Bowl tickets for a $100 down payment on 2014 season-ticket plans. Several Spartans' fans sniffed out a good deal, figuring the $100 deposit for season tickets they never will use was a worthwhile trade-off for the chance to buy face-value tickets to Pasadena.
Stanford (11-2) vs. Michigan State (12-1), Jan. 1 in Pasadena, 2 p.m. ESPN