Aug. 7, 2012
STANFORD, Calif.Junior end Ben Gardner (23-12-35) and senior nose guard Terrence Stephens (6-5-11) return to a defensive line that looks to offset the loss to three-year starter Matt Masifilo (12-22-24; 8.0 TFL).
Last season, this unit played a key role in Stanford finishing third nationally in rushing defense (84.4), sixth in third down conversion defense (31.0) and 11th in sacks per game (3.00).
In his first season as a starter, Gardner earned second team All-Pac-12 honors after finishing the year with 35 tackles, including 4.5 sacks among his 10.0 tackles-for-loss. Stephens started eight games as a junior, plugging a hole left by the graduation of three-year starter Sione Fua.
"The challenge for Ben is maintain that lunch pale-type mentality," said defensive line coach Randy Hart, who enters his 43rd year of collegiate coaching. "When he's a fighter, scrappy rascal, he's a very good lineman for us.
"He also has a great head on his shoulders. He used to be a linebacker and you can see he was used to running the show from that position. He has great knowledge of the game, the protection we see, the offense and understands what we need to do to get stops."
Hart is also pleased with the progress of Stephens, who returns to hold down the starting nose tackle position.
"To be a good football team, our seniors have to play their best football. The challenge for Terrence is to play the best football he has ever played this year." Junior Josh Mauro and sophomore Henry Anderson are in competition for the second defensive end position opposite Gardner, although both should see significant playing time.
Redshirt freshmen Charlie Hopkins and J.B. Salem will also push for playing time at the end position, while junior David Parry and redshirt freshman Anthony Hayes will provide depth at tackle behind Stephens.
In this installment of "Previewing the Cardinal", defensive line coach Randy Hart breaks down Stanford's personnel up front.