All-America Candidate Shayne Skov Returrns as Team's Leading Tackler
Shayne Skov led Stanford in tackles last year.
July 19, 2011
This is the second installment of a 10-part series that will breakdown Stanford by position as the Cardinal prepare for the start of training camp on Monday, August 8. In this segment, we take a look at the Cardinal's group of inside linebackers, headed up by junior Shayne Skov, who led the team in tackles a year ago.
STANFORD, Calif. --Stanford was the most improved defensive team in the nation in 2010, as the Cardinal closed the campaign ranked in the top three in the Pac-10 Conference in seven defensive categories, including scoring defense (17.4; 1st), total defense (322.8; 2nd), rushing defense (120.8; 2nd), pass defense (202.0; 3rd), pass defense efficiency (112.8; 2nd), interceptions (18; 2nd) and sacks (36; 1st).
Stanford finished 10th nationally in scoring defense and ranked 21st in total defense. In addition, the Cardinal ranked 19th nationally in rushing defense, 15th in sacks, 16th in pass efficiency defense, t-19th in interceptions and 35th in pass defense.
A year earlier, Stanford ranked eighth in the conference in scoring defense (26.5) and ninth in total defense (402.7).
Stanford also shut out three opponents last year, blanking UCLA (35-0), Washington (41-0) and Oregon State (38-0), marking the first time Stanford posted three shutouts in the same season since 1969.
"They guys started to build a tradition last year," said co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach Jason Tarver, who enters his first season on the Stanford staff after a 10-year coaching stint with the San Francisco 49ers.
"But one year is one year. One time is lucky, two times means you're darn good."
"What we want to hold our hat on is hard work. The physicality and playing with violence has to stay the same. We need to continue to knock people back, use our hands and be relentless to the football. Those are some of the things they established last year, especially at the end of the season."
Much of the team's defensive improvement can be traced back to the inside linebacker position, where senior Owen Marecic and sophomore Shayne Skov formed one of the nation's best inside tandems.
Skov, an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection last year, finished the 2010 campaign with a team-high 84 tackles and 7.5 sacks, despite missing the first two games of the season with injury. He recorded 12 tackles against Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl and now has 27 total tackles in his two bowl game appearances.
"Shayne Skov loves to play football," said Tarver. He loves the contact of football - sometimes too much. He loves running into people, throw his body around and go full speed. He does what is asked of him. The next thing for Shayne is to learn the scheme and master his own body.
"He knows he needs to be consistent and make all of the plays, not just the big ones. He feels the game of football and has a great feel for all of the alignments. Now it's a matter of him getting to the point where he can communicate to help others and be a true leader."
Stanford will need to replace the reliable services of Marecic, who recorded 51 tackles, two sacks and a pair of interceptions in his first season of full-time duty at inside linebacker.
"Competition for Owen's spot is going to be big," said Tarver. "It's an open competition."
Fifth-year senior Max Bergen might have a slight edge heading into fall camp, but Tarver was very impressed with the play of junior Jarek Lancaster along with sophomores A.J. Tarpley and Joe Hemschoot during the spring.
"They all got stronger and faster," said Tarver. "Hopefully they guys will push each other and we'll see what we get."
Tarver is also anxious to see how quickly highly-touted recruit James Vaughters adapts to the system during training camp.
"Overall, we have a physical group that wants to do it right," said Tarver. They have been receptive to the drills and it's nice to have the same system in place for a year. Most of the words they are hearing are the same going forward from last year."