Twice in as many seasons, the Stanford defense has effectively kept Oregon from reclaiming the Pac-12 championship. Now, the Cardinal defense the Ducks faces on Nov. 1 is not exactly the same as the units that held Oregon to 14 and 20 points.
Gone are linebackers Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov, both of whom wreaked havoc against the Ducks. Stanford also loses safety Ed Reynolds.
The most significant loss is that of defensive coordinator Derek Mason, whose game plan for stopping the zone-read elements of the spread offense grounded Oregon. Mason is now the head coach at Vanderbilt.
But the Cardinal are positioned to rebound from the losses, head coach David Shaw told Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Defensively, we're so good up front. A lot's going to be said about the guys that are leaving, including Derek Mason. But we have a veteran group up front that's really tough to run the ball against. It's really tough to pass-protect [against].
Linebacker A.J. Tarpley, defensive tackle David Parry and defensive end Henry Anderson key a front seven that should remain one of the conference's—if not nation's—most fearsome.
Combined with a secondary returning Alex Carter and Jordan Richards, new defensive coordinator Lance Anderson inherits a lineup capable of maintaining the lofty standard the last two Stanford teams have ridden to Pac-12 championships.