Senior Kevin Anderson says his interception return for a touchdown in the Rose Bowl is all fine and good. He thinks more about plays he didn't make that day that might have proved to make a difference.
The Palo Alto High grad has a season's worth of plays to make as No. 11 Stanford's starting outside linebacker entering Saturday's season home opener against UC Davis at 1 p.m.
Cardinal coach David Shaw thinks Anderson will make more plays than not. He's seen it ever since Anderson crossed the El Camino Real out of high school.
"He's high effort. That's Kevin's hallmark," Shaw said. "He was highly productive. He made a difference when he came into the game."
Shaw used that 40-yard interception return as an example. Anderson points to other things though.
"We lost the game and that's what matters," Anderson said. "I made one play but I missed three others. That's what I use to motivate myself every day. We were close to winning and now we have to get better."
Anderson is part of a remake with the linebackers. Stanford lost Shayne Skov and Trent Murphy, but the returning players all have significant game experience. Anderson is joined by outside linebacker James Vaughters and inside backers Blake Martinez and A.J. Tarpley.
Anderson thinks there will be no drop off from the defense that has led the nation in sacks.
"We have a great front seven," he said. "And great defensive backs too. It's a closely knit group of guys and that helps on the field. We communicate well."
Henry Anderson, David Parry and Blake Lueders are the defensive linemen who complete the front seven. Safeties Kyle Olugbode and Jordan Richards and corners Ronnie Harris and Wayne Lyons are also defensive starters.
Joe Hemschoot figures to fill a number of roles for the Cardinal, while Alex Carter, Zach Hoffpauir and former wide receiver Kodi Whitfield all will see time as defensive backs.
"Three years ago, the one thing we knew we had to have improvement was guys who are capable of tackling in open space," Shaw said. "It's something we work on every day."
Martinez, for one, made it a priority during the offseason. He lost part of last season to injury and he's ready to make up for lost time.
"It's been a long time coming and I'm excited for it," Martinez said. "I want to be the kind of guy who goes out every day and gets the job done and doesn't say much."
Shaw said Martinez has been one of the most consistent players through training camp.
"He's physical and he's athletic in space," Shaw said. "He's picked up the defense and has a chance to have a nice career here."
Martinez, even as a junior, will be one of the youngest members of the Stanford defense. Eight defensive starters are in their final year of eligibility and Anderson and Harris are seniors academically.
Hemschoot is also in his final year, while backups Luke Kaumatule, Aziz Shittu, and Ra'Chard Pippens are all juniors athletically.
The offensive side of the ball is significantly younger, featuring an offensive line with four new starters to go with junior left tackle Andrus Peat: junior left guard Joshua Garnett, junior center Graham Shuler, junior right guard Johnny Caspers and junior right tackle Kyle Murphy.
"They have all played before in various packages," Shaw said. "How they work together, how they handle changes, that is what fascinates me."
Fifth-year senior fullback Lee Ward and senior wide receiver Ty Montgomery are the only two on offense in their final year of eligibility. Running back Ricky Seale, who will see a lot of action is also in his final year.
Kevin Hogan returns as a third-year starter, giving Shaw a sense of comfort.
"Life is so much better when the guy who touches the ball on every single play has been in two Pac-12 championship games," Shaw said. "He's been through it. He's a stabilizing influence."
Hogan has adapted himself to the style of play, the playbook and the concepts of the west coast offense. He understands it better and thinks it will be effective.
"I like our offense because it is more complex," Hogan said. "There are interchangeable facets to the offense and I think we'll be much more balanced. I'm not worried about our offensive line. I think they've already gelled. They've all had experience and they look great together."
Hogan also will have Montgomery, an All-American, and senior running back Kelsey Young as weapons. Senior wide receiver Devon Cajuste, sophomore tight end Eric Cotton and backup receivers Michael Rector, Jordan Pratt and Francis Owusu all figure to see the ball.
Montgomery was officially cleared to play earlier this week, though that was a forgone conclusion for Shaw, who watched him during camp.
"He's been tested and retested and it all points to the fact he's as healthy as he's been," Shaw said. "He's healed, he feels good and he's ready."
As for Anderson, seeing fellow Paly grad Keller Chryst at Stanford made him realize just how fast this all seems to happen.
"It's been pretty crazy," he said. "I feel like I just came here as a freshman. It seemed like just the other day Keller was here for a summer camp. It's been fast and it's certainly been enjoyable."
2014 STANFORD FOOTBALL
Date Opponent Time
Saturday vs. UC Davis 1 p.m.
Sept. 6 vs. USC 12:30 p.m.
Sept. 13 vs. Army 2 p.m.
Sept. 27 at Washington TBA
Oct. 14 at Notre Dame 12:30 p.m.
Oct. 10 vs. WSU 6 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Arizona St. TBA
Oct. 25 vs. Oregon St. TBA
Nov. 1 at Oregon TBA
Nov. 15 vs. Utah TBA
Nov. 22 at Cal TBA
Nov. 28 at UCLA 12:30 p.m.
Dec. 5 Pac-12 Championship Game*
* at Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara