Q+A: Stanford LB Trent Murphy

Stanford junior outside linebacker Trent Murphy made his presence felt last season with 6.5 sacks and 10 TFL. The six-foot-six, 261-pound Arizonan is part of a Cardinal front seven that looks to be one of the finest in the country. He caught up with David Lombardi after Tuesday's practice.

Lombardi: As a group, the front seven really shined at the Spring Game - and that was before even Shayne Skov came back. How do you guys feel your unit can stack up against some of the elite ones in the country?

Murphy: We really focus on ourselves. We all make mistakes so we have to get that stuff right and focus on it in practice. We have a lot of confidence in our coaches, and our coaches are giving us the right stuff to run, so we feel that we stack up really well.

Lombardi: What about Shayne's return? How has that improved your unit?

Murphy: It's huge. Shayne Skov is Shayne Skov. Everyone knows that. We'll need him for sure, and it's awesome to have him on our side again playing at this high level again.

Lombardi: How about James Vaughters? Coach said that he has been "borderline dominant" the past four days.

Murphy: We've been calling him a juggernaut, because that boy is strong. He is phenomenal. He is going to be a huge contributor this season.

Lombardi: He saw limited action last season. What specifically has changed for him to make the jump that he has made?

Murphy: He's just not a freshman anymore. He had a hard time with the playbook freshman year but most freshman do. Now, you can tell he is a whole lot more comfortable out there.

Lombardi: Has that been the case with you as well? Have you gotten a lot more comfortable with the schemes over the past season and offseason?

Murphy: Definitely. It's helped that we've kept our defensive playbook [despite the departure of defensive coordinator Jason Tarver], since we've had a lot of the same coaching staff. So each year in the program you get a little more comfortable with it.

Lombardi: How about those iPad playbooks - have they helped? [Stanford has become the first college team to distribute about 100 iPad playbooks to its players, replacing the old binders]

Murphy: [laughs] I'm not exactly the biggest tech guy in the world. I still have one of those old flip phones with a broken screen. So, it wasn't that easy to adjust to at first. But, I actually really like it now - it's convenient. You can keep your notes organized, which is helpful since my handwritten ones look like chicken scratch. And I'm sure we're saving some trees.

Lombardi: Pac-12 offenses offer serious diversity. One week, you'll get USC's pro-set passing game, the next week Oregon will spread it out and run. Even Washington State offers a fresh look since they'll be spreading it out to pass. How do you prepare for all these various opponents? Are you cramming right now?

Murphy: That'll mainly be a week-by-week preparation. Right now, our first game is our biggest focus, because we really have to stay focused on one opponent at a time since there are so many different ones. Once the season gets going, we'll work on installing stuff week-by-week to adjust to the teams we're playing.

Lombardi: So right now it's all San Jose State preparation or are you still in general mode?

Murphy: Right now, it's more of a general preparation. We're trying to figure out who we are. We have a few new freshmen, so we need to figure out some new things. It's still about us right now.

Lombardi: The offensive line has had to do some retooling. You've gotten to play against them. How is that unit looking?

Murphy: Most of the time I've been going against big Cam [Fleming] at right tackle and he's feeling as heavy as ever. I think it's going well for them because they have a lot of seniors on that side. And they have those tight ends - Levine Toilolo, Zach Ertz - as long as those guys are around on their side they'll be all right.

Lombardi: Speaking of tight ends, the big freshman Luke Kaumatule (a DL recruit) has been getting consideration at that position. Has he been out there a lot?

Murphy: He's been out there a little bit. He's still a young pup. He's probably the nicest kid I've met in my life. He's a great kid to be around.

Lombardi: Thanks, Trent.

Murphy: Thank you.

David Lombardi, a TV and radio (95.7 The Game SF) personality in the Bay Area, is a Stanford and Pac-12 Conference enthusiast. He has broadcast the Cardinal on KZSU for several years. You can check out several of his Stanford calls and other writing at www.davidlombardisports.com.

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