Max Bergen interview

Although he received playing time in 2010, particularly when Shayne Skov missed games due to injury, 2011 could be Max Bergen's time to shine. Heading into his final college season, Bergen recently locked up the middle linebacker spot opposite Skov.

After Stanford's practice Tuesday afternoon, The Bootleg caught up with Bergen, a Pennsylvania native, to discuss the upcoming season.

The Bootleg: So you got that starting middle linebacker job. What was it like to get the news?
Max Bergen: To be honest I never did get the news. I was just taking it day by day really, just working on little things that I know for myself I need to get better, and my coach tells me, just little steps really.

TB: You've been here several years now, where do you think your improvement has come the most in your Stanford career?
MB: Definitely my eyes and my ability to read the offense. I think Coach Tarver really gave me the tools I needed to make those improvements.

TB: Do you feel like you made a big step then the last couple of months since spring, or do you feel it's been a little more gradual?
MB: I think it really sped up once Coach Tarver got the job. So from the spring until now I think I made my biggest steps as a football player.

TB: Not bad to play alongside a guy like Shayne. Talk about the dynamic you have with him.
MB: Shayne really makes the whole defense better. He'll call out plays before the snap and he makes it a lot of fun to play with him.

TB: Last year you did get some playing time, how did that help you progress?
MB: Well, experience is the best way to learn how to play football because you get a feel for the game speed and everything like that. And of course special teams, I've been here my whole time, that's always a great way to work on your physical skills, so experience is definitely the No. 1 thing.

TB: I know you guys are very dependent on the defensive line in a 3-4. Sione Fua and those guys did a great job last year, what have you seen so far from this year's defensive line?
MB: Matt Masifilo, Terrence Stephens, and Ben Gardner do a great job. They're big, physical guys, and we have a pretty strong rotation in there with the ones and the twos. Pretty much whoever we have in there, we can count on them to knock the line back.

TB: Talk about the depth you guys have at middle linebacker. We had a press conference with Shayne earlier today, and that was one of the things he was saying, that there are four or five guys who could play in the middle.
MB: We're probably deeper now than we've been in four to five years. If anything happens, we're not going to take a step back anywhere.

TB: Can you discuss some of the individual guys and what you've seen from them?
MB: Jarek Lancaster and A.J. Tarpley are two really, really good linebackers who can play either ‘Mike' or ‘Will'. They really know their stuff. Then of course there's Joe Hemschoot and the new guy, James Vaughters. They're only going to get better every practice.

TB: With James in particular, he came in with a lot of hype, he can play some outside linebacker and some inside linebacker. What have you seen from him? And from your perspective, where do you think he'll end up in this defense?
MB: Well, he has the tools to play anywhere, really. He's an excellent pass rusher. He gets better every single practice, and everyone out here on the field can see it. He's going to be a great player someday.

TB: What are your personal goals this season? For the team, we hear winning the Pac-12, but for you personally?
MB: My personal goals are just to win every game, really. Everything good will come once we start winning, so that's all I have to worry about.

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