Pre-Oregon State interview: co-DC Derek Mason

Though not quite as lauded as the offense, Stanford's defense has played a key role this season in getting the Cardinal to a perfect 8-0 record. The coaching staff has been critical to that success, led by Derek Mason, the Cardinal's associate head coach and, along with Jason Tarver, co-defensive coordinator.

In a recent interview with The Bootleg, Derek Mason talked about the defense's performance against USC and about the possibility of coaching elsewhere next season.

The Bootleg: How would you grade your defense last week overall?

Derek Mason: For the first half, I'll give them an A. We limited the rush yardage and they didn't throw very much—they attacked us in the pass game and we stood up. They threw the ball 29 times and ran six times. Their idea was to come in, pick on the secondary and see what we could do. They didn't run the ball much, and we held in there the first half. Second half, it was a little different story. We let a couple of runs get out, and we should have done a better job in terms of supporting the run in the secondary, and a couple balls got out. For us, we found ourselves in a fistfight. As a fistfight goes, they gave us their best shot. Andrew did a great job of composing himself and getting us right back into that thing. Really what it came down to, that game ended on a defensive play. So when you ask me, "How do you grade it," you say a win's a win and you know what, defense made the last play. So at the end of the day, maybe we didn't do all of the things we wanted to do, but hey, it's in the history books.

You guys didn't get any sacks on Matt Barkley and it didn't seem like you got that much pressure on him at all. Why did that happen and what adjustments are you going to make for Oregon State next week?

DM: First of all, they did a good job protecting Barkley. Even though we didn't get sacks, we got hits. We had nine quarterback hits in that game. I'll tell you what, if you look at his throws, where he was throwing the football, he missed a lot of throws—he missed some throws and some guys dropped some balls. We felt like we came after him when we needed to come after him. He made some nice throws at times, the receivers definitely made some plays, but I'll say this: Matt Barkley is a great quarterback. He's well-coached, he does a great job, but I felt like our guys went out there and they took the challenge. They stood toe-to-toe with guys who are pretty dang good, some of whom will be playing on Sundays. At the end of the day, the score wound up on our side. I'll take it any way I can get it.

Do you guys ever run practices for those overtime situations?

DM: We practice those things really during the offseason. It becomes sort of like a two-minute situation. It's critical that you get stops. For us, in terms of doing a drill for overtime, we haven't done one. We knew the mechanics of the overtime period, we knew how it worked, and we needed a stop, and luckily we got one.

Your name has come up with the head coaching opening at Arizona. Have you been reached out to by anyone at Arizona and would you have any interest in that job?

DM: I'll tell you this: my heart's here at Stanford University. I haven't talked to anybody at the University of Arizona. My job here is to be the best assistant coach that I can to David Shaw. I've known Coach Shaw for a long time, this place is dear to me and my family, and at the end of the day, being here at Stanford is where I want to be. I'll just continue to go about my business, making sure that we chop wood here at Stanford University, and when this thing is all over, I'll still be here at Stanford University.


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