The Stanford Cardinal will be looking to defend their Pac 12 Championship in 2013, and they’ll do it in the same way they won it; with a physical running game and tough defense. The Stanford defense has been keyed by the play of their linebackers, and that looks to be the case once again next fall. With Shayne Skov returning for his senior season and finally returning to 100 percent healthy, the Cardinal defense will make their presence felt next season.
Skov was still recovering from knee surgery following an injury during the 2011 season last year, but managed to lead the team in tackles anyways. He finished the year with 80 tackles, including eight tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. More important than his production to head coach David Shaw is the intangibles that he brings to the defensive side of the ball.
Shaw singled out Skov follow a spring practice session as the emotional leader of the team who was responsible for setting the energy level for the entire team. The fifth-year senior always sets that bar high, playing with a relentless tenacity that has made him a leader in the locker room and on the football field.
Coming back healthy will be a huge boost for him as well. Skov admitted that he was still trying to get healthy for the majority of last season, which affected how many plays he was able to get in on. Even though he led the team in tackles, Skov is expecting to be even more disruptive in 2013 and Shaw won’t hold him back.
For Stanford to stay on top of the Pac 12, they will need their defense to be even better in 2013. With Skov healthy and chomping at the bit to get back on the gridiron, they have a very good chance to get there.