Day 5: Co-DC/LB coach Jason Tarver

After practice on Friday, Stanford's first with full pads, The Bootleg caught up with middle linebackers coach/co-defensive coordinator Jason Tarver to discuss the state of the middle linebackers, and the defense in general.

Below is the transcript of our short conversation with Tarver. Due to time constraints, we were only able to discuss a few topics with the former 49ers' assistant. Look for a more in-depth interview with Tarver on The Bootleg in the near future.

The Bootleg: You're working with the inside linebackers, what's your assessment of that group between Shayne Skov and the other more open position?
Jason Tarver: First, it's great working with Shayne and these guys. All of these guys are very willing, very intelligent, and they come out with an idea to get better every day. They're really taking to some of the things we teach them contact drill wise. Jarek Lancaster, A.J. Tarpley, Joe Hemschoot, they get better every day. Max Bergen is getting his hips down, getting better. So we're very excited. As a group, we think we have a lot of guys who are really coming along as players. We're rolling them all in and giving them all reps with a chance to compete, and they're all competing.

TB: So you'd say maybe those guys, at that other inside linebacker spot opposite Shayne, they're all in the mix?
JT: They're all in the mix. We're using James Vaughters in the defense too. He's had a few good days of practice. So we're evaluating his talent, Patrick Skov, the two young guys who came in who are in our group, we're evaluating what they can do, both dropping and rushing and everything we do with our linebackers.

TB: Can you talk a little bit about Patrick and James and what you've seen from them so far?
JT: James is very good when he's coached on something. He doesn't like to make the same mistake twice, already. And that's a big thing in a young guy coming in as a freshman into college. That's one of the best things. Patrick is very strong and he really likes contact. And when you have those things and ability to go with it, if he keeps working on it, he could be a good player at some time at this level. Back to James, he's got a nice feel that once he sees something, if he messes it up the next time he sees it, he corrects it. And he also likes contact, and those are the best things in linebackers. They have to really like getting hit and making plays.

TB: I know you're mostly working with those guys, but do you have the co-defensive coordinator title. Has there been anybody else on the defense that's maybe surprised you, stood out to you with their play, especially compared to spring ball?
JT: What's been nice is that all of these young men have improved since spring. There's a few of our D linemen that are much improved since spring. Our second D line and Terrence Stephens and those guys, they've all gotten better. Henry Anderson, they've all gotten better. Ben Gardner is way more explosive. Of the outside linebackers, Trent Murphy's ready to go, Chase is stronger than he was last year. Blake Lueders is doing a good job. Alex Debniak hits everything he sees. There's some depth at those spots. The DB's, the two senior leaders of our secondary are outstanding, the young freshmen are explosive, our corners are playing better than they ever have. It's pretty exciting to see these guys.

TB: Last thing, with the young corners, Jordan Richards, Ra'Chard Pippens, Wayne Lyons, Ronnie Harris, what have you seen from them and do you think any of them will have a chance to contribute this season?
JT: We're a few days in, so we're seeing what they can do. They're competing. And they have skill and they love football, and they're really working at it. And when you have skill at the back-end players, and they're also willing to tackle and hit, and they're confident, then that always gives you a chance. So we'll continue to see what they can do throughout camp, but we're pretty excited with what they've done so far and are pretty happy that they're here.

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