- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Life after Shayne Skov.
It’s a concept the Stanford coaching staff was hoping they wouldn’t have to worry about for a while.
But this morning it became a reality when it was announced that the standout junior middle linebacker would miss the rest of the season with a knee injury suffered in the second quarter of Saturday’s win against Arizona.
The specific details of the injury were not disclosed.
“It’s a big loss for our football team, but we have great leadership on defense from players such as Michael Thomas, Delano Howell and Chase Thomas,” Stanford coach David Shaw said in a released statement. “We’ve also recruited very well recently and now it is time for guys to step up.”
Stanford players took to the Twitter-verse to show support for Skov, Stanford’s leading tackler last season and leading tackler this year.
Thomas, an outside linebacker tweeted “prayers go out to my boy #11 we know he’ll come back stronger.”
Freshman corner back Wayne Lyons, who is also out with a foot injury, added: “its gone be all good big dog keep your head up and we will be ok.”
No doubt, Skov’s absence leaves a gaping hole at the middle linebacker position for the No. 2 rushing defense in the nation.
True, Skov cannot be replaced. He’s a pure tackler and plays at a speed most linebackers can’t match. But the season is not lost. The Cardinal are as deep at linebacker as any position.
Max Bergen, the other middle linebacker, doesn’t get mentioned as much as Skov. But he’s tied for second on the team with Howell with 14 stops, a sack and 1.5 tackles for a loss.
Thomas is Skov’s equal from the outside linebacker position and has 12 stops and a team high 3.5 sacks on the year.
Those big scores in the first two games are going to help because Shaw was able to substitute a lot and get the young guys playing time. That experience will pay off as they move forward without Skov.
So who is likely to fill in for Skov? The top candidates:
Jarek Lancaster: With seven solo tackles and 12 total, the redshirt sophomore played very well in the second half of the Arizona win.
James Vaughters: This is probably who Shaw was referring to when he mentioned the fact that they’ve “recruited very well recently.” Vaughters has notched eight tackles, 3.5 for a loss and a sack in his first three college football games.
A.J. Tarpley: The redshirt freshmen has already seen lots of playing time and has 13 tackles -- nine solo -- this season.
Joe Hemschoot: The redshirt sophomore is listed third on the depth chart and saw some action against Arizona but didn’t record any tackles. He has two on the year -- a solo and an assist -- but will likely see more playing time.