After Tuesday afternoon practice, The Bootleg spent a few minutes with Cardinal outside linebackers coach Lance Anderson to get the skinny behind his position group, and to discuss the future of some of Stanford’s talented freshmen.
The Bootleg: State of the outside linebackers: how would you assess the position group as a whole at this point?
Lance Anderson: It’s a good group, a very competitive group. I think Chase Thomas is really the leader of that group. He’s a good football player, has done some good things all camp long, but we’ve got some great competition there. Trent Murphy will start at the other outside linebacker, but he’s being pushed by Alex Debniak and Blake Lueders. They’re all doing a great job. They’re all pushing each other. Kevin Anderson, who’s just a freshman, there’s a little bit of a transition for him from defensive end to outside linebacker, but he’s been a pleasant surprise as well. He’s done a real good job.
And then in the nickel stuff, the sub stuff, we’re working James Vaughters there a little bit as well, so he’s working some inside linebacker, but also on the outside, and he’s getting better and better as we go through practice as well.
TB: So with Chase, he had the breakout year last year in the 3-4, how much has it helped him to have another year under his belt, and how have you seen him progress?
LA: He has that year under his belt, he’s so much more familiar with the defense and what his role is, and I think he understands the big picture now with how he fits into that. I think he’ll make even more plays this year. He’s a smart kid with a lot of football IQ. He understands the game and he’s going to make some plays for us.
TB: With the other outside backer, what allowed Trent Murphy to get that starting spot over Debniak and Lueders, both guys who seemed like pretty strong candidates?
LA: It’s been a great competition and all of those guys are going to play. Trent’s just probably a little bit ahead now, just his pass rush ability and his explosiveness. He’s a big, long guy with some good strength, and he’s done a nice job with his pass rush, but also he’s gotten a lot better playing in space with his drops and things like that.
TB: And he’s all the way back health-wise?
LA: Oh yeah, he is. He’s not missed a practice. He’s been healthy all of fall camp, so he’s done a great job in that spot.
TB: Back to Vaughters, who came in here with as much hype as anybody in the last few years, where do you see him long term?
LA: We still think he’s going to be a terrific inside linebacker. I think as he gets a little more experience he’s going to be really good there. It’s just coming in as a freshman, there’s a lot to learn, and he’s getting there, but he’s not quite there yet. We’re going to find a role for him, find a way to get him on the field, and as he gets that playing time, he’ll get better and better.
TB: So you do think he’ll play this year?
LA: Yes, yes he will, and I think as the year goes on, I think he’ll probably play more and more.
Will he be on special teams?
LA: Yes. Coach Polian has him on several special teams, so he’ll also contribute there.
What was the rationale behind switching Patrick Skov from linebacker to fullback?
LA: Probably what facilitated it more than anything was with our numbers at fullback being down a little bit.
TB: Is Lee Ward [who suffered an apparent leg injury in last Sunday’s open scrimmage] still out?
LA: He is right now, but he’ll definitely be back, but just our numbers there facilitated that move, and [Patrick has] done a real good job there.
Excited for next Saturday?
LA: Yes, very excited. It’s hard to believe the season is almost here, but we’re excited to get it started.
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