Starters in, starters out. That's college football. Players' eligibility expires and they leave for the rest of their lives, which might include the NFL or not. And they leave behind shoes of various sizes that need to be filled.
In alphabetical order, we will survey each Pac-12 team’s most notable void. Today we look at Stanford.
Biggest shoes: OLB Trent Murphy
A two-time first-team All-Pac-12 performer, Murphy led the Pac-12 in sacks (15) and tackles for a loss (23.5) in 2013. He also had 62 total tackles, an interception, five QB hurries, seven pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a blocked kick. The Cardinal not only will miss his HUGE production, they will miss his motor and leadership. While you could argue that the Cardinal has more uncertainty at running back, more holes on the offensive line and Shayne Skov leaves a huge void in the middle of the defense, Murphy's shoes still seem the biggest.
Stepping in: Junior Kevin Anderson
Anderson, at 6-foot-4, 244 pounds, is smaller than Murphy, though his motor is every bit Murphy's equal. He was solid as Murphy's backup last year, collecting 26 tackles, with 6.5 coming for a loss, with 1.5 sacks and an interception, and seemed to do his best work late in the season. The general feeling is positive that Anderson can step into Murphy's shoes and, at least, adequately replace his tremendous production. Still, if Anderson doesn't become the A-list pass rusher that Murphy was, the Cardinal might have to tweak some things schematically to figure out new ways to get pressure on opposing QBs. That might include more high-risk blitzing.
Previous big shoes