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August 26, 2012

Outside linebackers with Lance Anderson

Stanford outside linebackers coach Lance Anderson has made his mark on the Cardinal program in several ways during his tenure on The Farm. As the primary admissions liason and a strong force on the recruiting trail, Anderson has played an instrumental role in the team's recruiting success.

But Anderson has also made an impact on the field. He's helped mold the Cardinal outside linebackers into one of the best position groups in the nation.

Cardinal Sports Report caught up with Anderson after a recent practice to get an update on the state of outside backers.

Cardinal Sports Report: You seem like a fortunate man this camp with that quartet that you have. How is everything shaking out with them?

Lance Anderson: It's a good group. It's been very competitive. I think Chase and Trent Murphy are at the top. They're veteran guys, they're experienced, and they're more consistent than they've ever been before. But Alex Debniak is playing as well has he has since he's been here, Kevin Anderson is making huge strides as well. He's a redshirt freshman, hasn't played yet so he has to gain a little experience. There are some little things he's working on to get better at, but he plays hard and it's a good group of guys.

CSR: I know along the defensive line the motto is kind of rotate, rotate, rotate, getting a lot of guys in. To what extent does that philosophy apply to your position group?

LA: We'll also rotate because those four guys have all proven that they can play and that they can help us and they can play at a high level. So we have to find a way to get them on the field. We want to keep them fresh and keep them playing fast anyway, so we'll rotate those for guys around.

CSR: If you can talk a little bit about Kevin Anderson and his development, from playing some defensive line in high school to adjusting to this new position to where he is now.

LA: It's been a little bit of a transition for him because he was really an offensive lineman/defensive lineman in high school, so now to play outside linebacker and get used to playing in space and playing out of a two-point stance the majority of the time, it's been a transition, but the thing that's helped him is he plays so hard. He has such a great motor. He has such a great love for the game that really helps him. Having a full year to redshirt and be on the scout team, to go through those Friday young guy scrimmages, I think all those reps he got there, the reps he got the second half of spring and everything he's gotten so far in fall camp has really helped his development. He's going to be a good contributor for us.

CSR: With Alex Debniak, he's a guy where it almost seems that every year is supposed to be his breakout year, but for whatever reason that maybe hasn't happened quite yet. When you say that he's better than he has been, is that just a mental thing getting used to the position, or why do you say he's better now?

LA: It's both mental and physical for him. No. 1 physical in the fact that he's really stayed healthy. He's been healthy throughout fall camp. He's healthy right now and that's helping him play at a high level. When he first moved to outside linebacker he was used to playing inside linebacker, didn't have a lot of the pass rush skills, didn't have the ability to use his hands in pass rush like some of the other guys that came from the defensive end position. So it's taken him time to develop that, but he's doing a great job with that now. He's really developed as a pass rusher, understands about playing on an edge and using his hands and setting an edge. So it's been both physical and mental. He's learned the defense a lot better. It's really his third year in the same scheme, playing the same position, and so he's a lot more comfortable mentally with that as well. The biggest thing is he's stayed healthy. He's fought so many injuries over the year. Hopefully we keep him healthy, keep him that way.

CSR: Then the true freshman of the bunch, Noor Davis, maybe some injuries and some other stuff but what have you seen from him so far?

LA: He's really been limited with injuries so far so it's kind of hard to tell at this point. He's close to being back. We look forward to getting him back out on the practice field. When he has been out there he's shown some glimpses of some natural ability doing some things. I think it's going to be a process for him of learning how to play at this level, changing his body, developing physically, and then mentally learning what we do and unfortunately he's missed a lot of practices.

CSR: At this point does it look like he might take that redshirt year?

LA: It's always hard to say but that's definitely a possibility at this point but if there are injuries and he gets back on the field and his development speeds up, things can always change.

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