Jan 2, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; A Stanford Cardinal cheerleader performs during a pep rally prior the 2012 Fiesta Bowl against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Mandatory Credit: Chris Morrison-US PRESSWIRE

Pac-12 Conference Football Preview: Stanford Cardinals (Part 2: Defense)

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The Stanford Cardinal defense had a fairly good season in 2011. Not many people focused on them because of the offensive show which was Andrew Luck. Last season, the Cardinal gave up an average 21.9 points per game. There were only three teams last season who scored more than 28 points against the Stanford defense in 2011. The opponents that were able to score more then 28 points on the Cardinal were the USC Trojans (48 points), the Oregon Ducks (52 points), and the Oklahoma State Cowboys (41 points). The Stanford Cardinal only lost two games last season. The Oregon Ducks defeated the Cardinal by a score of 53-30 and the Oklahoma State Cowboys defeated the Cardinal in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl by a score of 41-38 in overtime.

Just like the offense side of the ball, the Stanford defense lost four starters this past offseason. These starters include: Johnson Bademosi, Delano Howell, Matt Masifilo, and Michael Thomas. Among these players, the biggest loss for the Cardinal has to be Thomas. During his final college season, he recorded 66 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, three interceptions, five broken up passes, eight pass deflections, and one fumble recovery.

On the other hand, the Stanford defense will have seven starters returning on the defensive side of the ball. These players include: Terrence Brown, Ben Gardner, Jarek Lancaster, Trent Murphy, Terrence Stephens, A.J. Tarpley, and Chase Thomas.

The biggest strength for Stanford this season on defense will be their linebackers. Out of their returning starters, four of them are linebackers (Lancaster, Murphy, Tarpley, and Thomas). The returning linebacker who will need to be the biggest leader this season is Chase Thomas. Last season, Thomas recorded 52 total tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, four hurries on the quarterback, and five forced fumbles. On top of all those stats, Thomas was also a first team All-Pac-12 selection and a Sporting New All American.

Another player that the Cardinal are excited about returning to the linebacker position is Shayne Skov. Skov suffered a season ending injury during the Week 3 match-up against the Arizona Wildcats. At the Pac-12 Media Day, Coach Shaw was asked about how the rehab is going for Skov.

Coach Shaw stated:

“I haven’t seen him, but Shayne has been cleared as of last week. He’s done with his rehab. He’s not ready to play a football game yet but he’s physically ready to do everything in the weight room and everything we will ask him to do on the field. Come the beginning of training camp, we will be smart.”

 

It was also stated that Shayne Skov will definitely miss the first game of the season against the San Jose State Spartans, but will only miss that game. He is expected to be ready to go for the Week 2 match-up against the Duke Blue Devils.

The Standford Cardinal will enter the 2012 season ranked 18th in the preseason polls.

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Tags: A.J. Tarpley Andrew Luck Arizona Wildcats Ben Gardner Chase Thomas Coach Shaw Delano Howell Ducks General Duke Blue Devils Jarek Lancaster Johnson Bademosi Matt Masifilo Michael Thomas Oklahoma State Cowboys Pac-12 Pac-12 Media Day San Jose Spartans Shayne Skov Stanford Stanford Cardinal Stanford Football Terrence Brown Terrence Stephens Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Trent Murphy USC Trojans

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