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Position Preview: Defense and Linebackers
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 08/19/2010

Aug. 19, 2010


STANFORD, Calif.-- Defensively, Stanford will have a new look for the 2010 season, as the Cardinal will switch to a 3-4 base defense under new coordinator Vic Fangio, one of five new coaches on this year's Cardinal staff. Matt Masifilo and Brian Bulcke will likely bookend nose tackle Sione Fua upfront, with Owen Marecic, Shayne Skov, Thomas Keiser and Chase Thomas rounding out the front seven at the linebacker positions.

Here's a more detailed look at Stanford's front seven heading into the 2010 season. Watch the video preview here


Defensive Line
Stanford's defensive line will employ two ends and a nose tackle in its new 3-4 base with key returnees Sione Fua, Matt Masifilo and Brian Bulcke ticketed to hold down starting roles on a unit that has been one of the
team's strong suits over the last three seasons.

Fua, a veteran of 37 career games and 18 starts, is slated to start at nose tackle, earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors last year as a junior at tackle, where he started the last 11 games of the season following an early-season injury to Masifilo. He finished with 24 tackles, including a season-high five stops against Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl. Masifilo and Bulcke will bookend Fua at the end positions after both missed significant time last season with injuries. Masifilo began last season as the starting tackle on a talented defensive line but was limited to eight games after suffering a knee injury in the second game of the season at Wake Forest. He missed the next five games before returning to action for the Arizona State game and by season's end, was one of Stanford's most effective defensive players. Bulcke has played in 35 career games, including nine starts over the last three seasons and played in the first four games of last season before a thumb injury sidelined him for the remainder of the campaign. A native of Windsor, Ontario, he was the sixth overall selection by the Edmonton Eskimos in the 2010 CFL Canadian college draft. Two of the three players ticketed for backup duty in this unit are redshirt freshmen, including defensive ends Josh Mauro and Ben Gardner. Only sophomore Terrence Stephens, who is slated to work behind Fua at nose tackle, has game experience, having appeared in six games last season.

With the loss of veterans Clinton Snyder, Will Powers and Nick Macaluso, three players who combined for 138 tackles and 25 starts a year ago, along with a switch to a 3-4 base defense, Stanford's linebacker corps will take on a decidedly different look this season.

Junior Thomas Keiser and sophomore Chase Thomas, who combined to start 21 games last season at defensive end, will shift to outside linebacker in the Cardinal's new defensive scheme. Both players give Stanford a formidable pass-rushing threat from the outside.

Keiser was an All-Pac-10 honorable selection last season after recording a team-high nine sacks, which tied for fourth in the Pac-10 Conference. He enters 2010 with 15 sacks in 25 career games, tops among active players. Thomas appeared in all 13 games and made eight starts as a redshirt freshman after Erik Lorig was lost for the season due to injury. He finished with 36 total tackles, including seven for loss, and was named a second team freshman All-American by Senior Owen Marecic and sophomore Shayne Skov are ticketed for starting roles at the two inside linebacker positions.

Marecic, who enters the season atop the depth chart at both inside linebacker and fullback, saw the majority of his reps during the spring on the defensive side of the ball, giving indication his transformation is far beyond the experimental phase. He earned time at middle linebacker last season in goal line and short-yardage situations, but this tough, hard-nosed competitor has natural instincts for the position.

One of the top young defensive players in the Pac-10 Conference heading into his sophomore campaign, Skov appeared in all 13 games as a rookie and started the last seven games of the season after Snyder was lost with an
injury. He finished third on the team in total tackles with 62, including a season-high 15 against Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl.

One the deepest units on the team, the Cardinal will look to senior Chike Amajoyi and junior Max Bergen to provide depth behind Marecic and Skov, while sophomore Alex Debniak and redshirt freshman Trent Murphy give Stanford options on the outside.

Amajoyi has appeared in 37 games and has made 17 starts at linebacker over the last three seasons while Bergen saw his first extensive action last season as a sophomore, appearing in 13 games. Debniak was a prime candidate for a starting role last season before a knee injury suffered in fall camp ended his season. While Murphy lacks
game experience, consensus is it's only a matter of time before he blossoms into a top-flight defender.



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