EUGENE - The Stanford defensive front seven is one of the most formidable in the country. They're big, talented, strong, but most importantly experienced. The Cardinal start six seniors up front and the lone non-senior is a junior.
"They're going to lose a ton of depth after this year," said Oregon coach Mark Helfrich. "Unfortunately those are all guys we have to face this year."
Not only does Stanford start six seniors at DL or LB, but four of the seven primary back-ups are also seniors, giving 10 of the top 14 Cardinal DL and LB maximum collegiate experience.
"There are multiple places on their defense where you have a senior backed up by a senior. You just don't see that very often," Helfrich said.
The Cardinal were even one stronger against Oregon State in their last game, before losing senior captain Ben Gardner with a season-ending pectoral injury. But with all of the previously stated depth, Gardner's absence might not hit quite as deep.
"Obviously losing Gardner, it affects them, but at the same time they brought back another unbelievably talented senior," Helfrich said.
Those senior defenders will help try to replicate last season's defensive effort, which kept the Cardinal in the contest long enough to eventually overcome the Ducks for an upset victory.
On Monday junior running back De'Anthony Thomas was confident that last year's offensive troubles would not be repeated, telling the media that "we should at least put up 40" this Thursday.
Helfrich addressed Thomas' comments Tuesday, saying that his speedy back was not diminishing the Cardinal, as much as he was building up his teammates.
"I think it certainly could have been phrased differently," Helfrich said. "But I don't know think he was talking about Stanford, he was talking about his teammates more than anything. I'm sure Stanford is not losing much sleep over that."
Helfrich was then asked if he likes that sort of confidence from his players:
"I really like confidence, I don't like talk. I think you back everything up with what you play. I think we should be very confident, but we don't need to talk about it."