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Is Stanford’s Defense all that we Thought?

We may have been off on the cardinal defensive front

NCAA Football: Southern California at Stanford Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There is a chance that we were wrong about the Stanford defense, and if it is true then they are in big trouble this season. Stanford was impressive defensively against Kansas State and USC. They started strong against UCLA, then the trouble started.

First Alijah Holder went down, soon after Quenton Meeks left the game. While the defense did take the natural step that happens when starting corners go down. But after UCLA, the Washington offense rolled over the defensive front we assumed to be stout. That begs the question, is the secondary more important to the defense than the front seven?

Against Kansas State, Meeks blanketed Byron Pringle almost all game and when it was not him it was Holder. When a team can play man coverage and know that they can hold up without backup that helps the defensive front seven. On top of them Zach Hoffpauir and Justin Reid playing safety, they have another player who can play man in the nickel spot with Hoffpauir. Even with only Reid back deep he can read well enough to play center fielder.

Against USC, Meeks and company made JuJu Smith disappear. When they could put corners on islands, they can stack the box and stop running backs like Justin Davis or Ronald Jones II. Now with their secondary in flux, they can no longer stack the box and get pressure on the quarterback.

Stanford has always boasted an impressive linebacking corps and edge rushers. However, this season it looks like the secondary is their best aspect. Unfortunately we are only finding this out because of injuries.

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