After missing all of last year with a knee injury, Stanford safety Ed Reynolds has come on strong with three interceptions in the first two weeks of the season and is tied for the FBS lead. The No. 21 Cardinal face No. 2 USC on Saturday and Reynolds took a few minutes to chat with the Pac-12 blog.
An obvious question to start, how frustrating was it to sit out the entire year?
Ed Reynolds: It was definitely frustrating just because I put in a lot of work in the spring and felt like I made a lot of gains when it came to knowing the playbook and knowing what we wanted to do when it came to techniques and play calls. But injuries happen. That's the game we play. I put all of my effort into rehabbing. Just to be back now with my brothers and to play on this defense is a great feeling.
ER: It's going to be a full team effort. We don't feel like it's any type of one-on-one battle. We don't feel like it's our corners versus their wide receivers or our defensive backfield versus their passing game. We feel like we just have to play within our system, execute what our game plan is and swarm to the ball. That's the best wide receiver combo in the nation. Matt Barkley does a good job within their system, getting those guys the ball in space and letting them do their thing. We've been preaching getting 11 hats to the ball. That's how we play team defense. We won't leave a man out on an island by himself to make a one-on-one tackle in space. We want 11 guys to swarm and slow those guys down.
Nothing will ever top the Cal-Stanford rivalry. But in the past few years, this rivalry has blown up. Are the Trojans your secondary rival?
ER: It's just another great game. You always have great athletes on both sides. I've only been a part of it for a couple of years. But the first two games were amazing. It could come down to the wire. It's a game I recommend tuning in to.
Last year, only seven interceptions for the season. You already have three by yourself and the team has four. What's the difference?
ER: We put a lot of emphasis in the offseason on creating turnovers. You look at all the great defenses in the league and in college football, they cause turnovers. They put their offense in great field position and they give their offense extra possessions. We put an emphasis on being able to do that. Our front seven makes it easy on the back end for us by getting the quarterback a little frazzled and make sure he knows he's not playing seven-on-seven. We spent a lot of time catching balls. We told ourselves coming into this season we need interceptions and it's been going great so far.
One of the things coach David Shaw said before the season was that he wasn't sure what this team's identity was going to be. Have you guys found it yet?
ER: As a defensive player, we spent the offseason saying we need to be dominant and get the offense in good position. Swarm to the ball. Team defense. The offense is coming along, but when you have young guys filling spots and trying to get comfortable, it's going to take some time. But I don't think the offense has strayed from what we are. We're a power running game. The identity hasn't changed just because our personnel has. We're just growing as a team.
You're one of several Stanford players who had an NFL dad. Is it tough being an NFL legacy, or are there some perks?
ER: I never looked at it as being tough. There are more perks. My dad's career was over early on in my childhood. I don't remember a lot of it. But just being able to talk to him and get some of his football wisdom is amazing. I attribute a lot of my football IQ to him because he's helped me through a lot of my football growth since I started playing in the early middle school days. Just having someone you can talk to about the game who has been in similar situations is definitely a perk.