Stanford's 2013 defense is absolutely loaded.
Darius Tahir (@dariustahir) quantifies why you should be very excited about next year's Stanford defense.
The 2012 Stanford Cardinal defense surely has the championship belt for "best Stanford defense ever"; however, with the announcements Saturday that Trent Murphy, Shayne Skov and Ben Gardner are returning, it appears very possible -- if not probable -- that they’ll have to surrender the title much sooner than anticipated.
To quantify your excitement (assuming Stanford suffers no unexpected losses to the draft):
10 of 11 starters from the Rose Bowl are returning
20 of 23 of the two-deep from the Rose Bowl are returning
81.8% of tackles for loss are returning
78.1% of sacks are returning
94.2% of passes broken up are returning
93.3% of interceptions are returning
Counting honorable mention, 9 of Stanford’s 11 All-Pac 12 defenders are returning (or 81.8%).
Let’s assume -- perhaps dangerously -- that the Rose Bowl depth chart stays static in 2013 for returning players. If you’re returning, you keep your spot. Meanwhile, we’ll assume redshirt junior Blake Leuders takes the starting OLB spot, backed up by redshirt sophomore Kevin Anderson. That would give 16 of the top 22 spots to upperclassmen -- meaning 72.7%.
How does that compare to previous years of Stanford defenses?
2012 (Rose Bowl): 52.1%
2011 (November) = 35%
2010 (November) = 54.2%
2009 (November) = 47%
In other words-- 2013 should be the most experienced, productive defense Stanford has had in years. (Put it this way: when your biggest problems -- besides replacing Chase Thomas -- are: who’s our backup nose tackle? You’re doing pretty well there.) But you knew this already. You just wanted numbers. They are here.