Stanford Will Have Completely New Look Defense in 2015
The Stanford Cardinal will have one of the most inexperienced squads in recent years when they take the football field in September. Even though the offense is loaded with starters returning, the defense will be very green.
For the past three straight seasons, Stanford has had the best defense in the Pac-12. They led the conference in nearly every individual statistical category this past season. The Stanford D gave up just 16.4 points a game, with the next best Pac-12 defense more than a touchdown higher at 23.6 points per game. The Cardinal allowed only 4.2 yards each play, with the next best conference team at 5.2 yards per play.
All of the defensive line from 2014 is gone. Stanford’s starting secondary departed and half of its linebacker corps has left. In short, the challenge for Stanford of maintaining the top spot in the Pac-12 on defense is now more daunting that ever before.
David Shaw the head coach said the team had a great deal of youth, but they are very talented.
The team went to four straight BCS bowls, which helps with recruiting and the Cardinal anticipates the recently signed new recruits will mature into the effective replacements the coaches believe they will.
Nearly every player Stanford is counting on to make an impact immediately was touted as a big talent coming from high school.
For example, Solomon Thomas a defensive lineman was ranked by ESPN as the fourth best recruit in the nation as that position.
Peter Kalambayi an outside linebacker was one of the nations coveted pass-rushers in the recruiting process.
The Cardinal has struggled historically in amassing a talent that is top flight in its secondary, but of the 8 defensive backs that signed over the past two years 6 are thought of as high-caliber, impact players.
Shaw said he liked how the entire unit is starting to come together following spring practice and has given much of the credit to Lance Anderson the team’s defensive coordinator.
The strength this season, at least at the start, appears to be at linebacker. Blake Martinez the leading tackler returns inside, he will be joined by Kevin Anderson, while Kalambayi who saw limited action last season still recorded 6.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles, will be on the outside as well.
Last season, the defense turned out very strong even after losing five top performers but this season could be even harder because the talent lost includes all but one starter.
Nevertheless, the Cardinal should battle for the Pac-12 north division title and head to another postseason bowl game.