Stanford defense hopes to bounce back following a disappointing 2023

Published April 3, 2024, 11:59 p.m., last updated April 4, 2024, 12:00 a.m.

The Stanford football team (3-9, 2-7 Pac-12) continued spring practice on Wednesday as the defensive unit looks to improve on last year’s underwhelming season.

Bobby April, defensive coordinator and outside Linebackers coach, is entering his second season with the Cardinal. April acknowledged the shortcomings of Stanford’s defense last year, which gave up an average of 462.9 yards per game, with an opponent red zone scoring percentage of 81.25%.

“The numbers are definitely frustrating. It doesn’t matter who we are playing. We need to step up to the plate, and we were not able to do that last year.”

To address the issues, April emphasized a back-to-basics approach.

“We are right back to the fundamentals,” April said. “We need elite tacklers and we need to try to force turnovers.”

Leading the charge on defense is sophomore cornerback Collin Wright, who earned Pac-12 Honorable Mention Freshman Defensive Player of the Year after starting all 12 games and tallying 61 total tackles last season. Wright aims to build upon his successful rookie campaign by refining his technique.

“I’m trying to be perfect. Perfect when I am pressing and perfect when I am playing off. Having to face great wideouts in the fall, that is one area where I have to be really good and eliminate the big plays,” Wright said.

Wright remains confident in the Cardinal despite the move from the Pac-12 to the ACC, facing a new set of opponents.

“We played a lot of great teams last year, and we are going to face a lot of great teams this year. If we just focus on ourselves and keep getting better, we are not going to have any issues in the conference,” Wright said.

Junior inside linebacker Gaethan Bernadel, who grew up in Miami, also expressed his enthusiasm for Stanford’s inaugural season in the ACC.

“I grew up watching ACC football, so it’s very exciting to play against those teams now. It will be nice for my parents because they don’t have to stay up late for all the games on the West Coast,” Bernadel said.

This offseason marks a critical period for Stanford’s defense as they prepare to navigate the competitive landscape of ACC football, and bounce back from last season’s disappointing performance.

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