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To get some perspective on just how dominant the Cardinal's defensive front seven were last year, consider that Stanford ranked third in the nation in rushing defense and 11th in sacks per game.
That type of statistical achievement should be the goal in 2012 as well, since the Cardinal return six of their starting front seven, including two who were first- or second-team All-Pac-12 selections (linebacker Chase Thomas and defensive lineman Ben Gardner).
Having a combination of bad coverage in the secondary, a low BDR and a lack of ballhawkers on defense is terrible no matter what league a team plays in, but it is especially troubling in a Pac-12 conference that has a slew of terrific passers and ranked second among BCS conferences in scoring offense last year. If the Stanford pass rush has even one game where it is unable to protect the secondary, it could be the factor that leads to a loss that ends the Cardinal's BCS title hopes.