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Friday, April 8, 2011
Stanford defensive notes

By Ted Miller

STANFORD, Calif. -- Stanford's defense went from mediocre-to-lousy in 2009 to darn-close-to-dominant in 2010. New Cardinal defensive coordinator Derek Mason, who oversaw the secondary last season, is quick to give credit where it is due for what he calls "a complete metamorphosis."

"Vic [Fangio] brought in a sense of accomplishment, stability and experience," said Mason of the coordinator who followed former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh to the San Francisco 49ers. "Guys bought in to what he was selling."

Considering how much better the Stanford secondary was in 2010, Mason certainly deserves his share of credit. The pass efficiency defense improved from 98th in the nation to 16th in one year with Mason.

Mason believes there's no reason for regression in 2011, even though Fangio and five key starters are gone, including nose tackle Sione Fua, who made the Cardinal's new 3-4 look work by anchoring the middle of the line and keeping the linebackers free to roam in space.

"The biggest component was confidence," Mason said. "When you have some success, it starts to breed confidence."

Some notes from our chat: