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Friday, March 19, 2010
Pac-10 Q&A: Stanford defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, Part II

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Read Part I here.

Which players stood out for you in the early-going of spring practices?

VF: It's too early to tell you but I was pleased with [Richard] Sherman and what he did for us at corner. Shayne Skov did a nice job at linebacker. We've made a move with [fullback] Owen Marecic. He's going to spend the entire spring with us at inside linebacker and see if he can play there for us and potentially be a two-way player this coming season. I was pleased with the front guys, the way they battled and adjusted to some of the new techniques we're trying to teach them. We're trying to be physical up front and play more a physical NFL style and they did a good job adjusting to that.

How did Alex Loukas look moving over to safety from quarterback?

VF: For a guy who's never played any defense in his career, high school or college, I thought he did extremely well over the five days. I'm anxious to see if he can continue to make progress in these next 10 practices because he may have a future there. He's got good size. He's got football awareness from having been a quarterback. I was pleasantly surprise with what he was able to show for such a short stay there and no background playing defense. Hopefully, he won't flatten out and he'll continue to improve.

Stanford is one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the country. As a defensive coordinator, can you take advantage of having a group of guys who are probably smarter than may of their opponents? Can they digest more scheme?

VF: Hopefully they can but it's been my experience that just because someone is book smart doesn't mean they are football smart. It's two different types of mechanisms that need to work. They are not sitting down and analyzing things. They've got to be able to react, key and diagnose in split-second times and execute those assignments they are learning. We'll see. I'm hopeful that won't be an issue for us and that will allow us to overcome some of the shortcomings we may have by being a little bit more complex in our scheme. I don't have a great feel for that yet. We'll see where that leads us.

There's not much of a defensive tradition at Stanford. How do you build up that tradition on defense and try to get guys to play with the physicalness and aggressiveness that are parts of the culture at schools known for defense?

VF: You've got to recruit and get talented enough players in here to do it. No matter what your scheme is or how physical or tough you're playing, if you don't have a certain degree of talent, it won't work in the final analysis. But I think we've got the attitude here and the makings with what we've got in place here now, personnel-wise, to kind of lay the foundation for that. Hopefully, we'll be able to show that and it will appeal to the upcoming recruits that Stanford is a place where you can go and play top-flight defense and have an edge on the other colleges in that you're being prepared in an NFL system to potentially continue your career at the next level.

Obviously, you're just getting your toe wet in college football. But when you made the move to Stanford in football, were you anticipating this as a long-term career change, where you want to go forward as a college coach? Or is the door still open for a return to the NFL?

VF: I've learned in the coaching profession you never know what's going to happen, good or bad. I've come here with an open mind of staying here and hopefully enjoying it and staying here for a good long period. I didn't come here under the pretense that it would be a stop-gap year for me to see whether I like it or not. Although you don't coach college football, you always stay in touch with it both because you know people who have coached it and because you get exposed to it every year in the NFL when it comes to the draft and you're watching a lot of college tape. It's not like you didn't know what was going on here or what college life is about for a coach. I come here with an open mind about having a long stay.