2002 Overview: Defensive Ends

If the new defense is going to achieve its pass rushing goals, the defensive ends have to get a better push than in recent years. Peter McCarty has been working toward that end, and the result is thus far a deeper rotation. Read on for in-depth discussion of all the DE personnel for 2002 Stanford football.

One of many places on the defense where starters were lost, but it is hard to evaluate the abilities and potential of the underclassmen under the old system as compared to what they can do today.  The overall aggressiveness and pass rushing focus of today's Stanford defense gives a new set of responsibilities and focus to the defensive ends.  So we some guys rising up right now and seizing the opportunity.  The instruction and attention to detail that Peter McCarty is giving these guys for rushing technique also easily eclipses anything seen in the last coaching regime.  I am watching these guys get better before my eyes, which also mean some real depth is emerging...

Depth Chart
strongside   weakside
#95 Drew Caylor   #85 Will Svitek
#18 Amon Gordon   #94 Julian Jenkins
#40 Scott Giles   #90 Louis Hobson
#97 Chris Gaines   #91 Michael Lovelady

My take: The real stories here appear to be on the weak side, with the "rush" ends.  Coming out of the spring, Will Svitek was holding off a rapidly rising Michael Lovelady, who was making a splash in his first spring.  Louis Hobson was in the all-too-familiar yellow jersey, but I still ran under the assumption that his physical tools would make him #1 when (if?) healthy this fall.  But then Louis and Michael both missed the first third to half of this fall training camp.  So that left just Will Svitek and true freshman Julian Jenkins to get work.  Both took great advantage of the repetitions and made great strides.  Hobson and Lovelady have come back and are slotted behind the front two, but I still don't know if they will remain there once they stay healthy and catch up in fall practices...

But at this point, Will Svitek is playing the best I have seen during his Stanford tenure and rightfully has earned that starting nod.  He has always been an athlete, but he looks quicker and can get into the backfield with more regularity now.  Of course, he is being pushed hard by frosh dynamo Julian Jenkins, who is the most impressive end I have ever seen come to Stanford.  He started off in the early days of camp shining on occasion with his natural abilities, but he technically had some failures.  The one that stuck in my head saw him flattened to the ground by OT Mike Sullivan, who is not someone in the business of dominating talented ends.  But Julian has made ridiculous progress since then, and has now risen to the #1 rush end in the nickel defense, and is getting time in the base defense.  Probably the best compliment I can relate to you came from one of his DE teammates, who told me last week that he has never seen someone with Julian's learning curve - who has picked up so much so fast and gotten so much better.  Stanford has a phenom on their hands, and he is going to rip Pac-10 QBs to shreds in his Cardinal career.  Julian by the way is responsible for the broken right hand of his position coach, Peter McCarty.  McCarty often plays the stand-up role of the blocker which the DE is supposed to whip past.  Julian smacked his coach's hand as he went by in such a drill early in camp, and it has been in a cast since.  His coach has a decent sense of humor about it, though, and has joked with Julian in the same drills that he appears to be trying to break his other hand...

The talents of all four of these guys are high, and they will all be back next year.  That depth is the good kind of 'scary' that Stanford rarely has, but you hate to keep guys like that off the field as you are forced in a four-deep situation...

Look over on the strong side, and there is less to sort out.  Scott Giles has made the move up front from OLB as the new defense is putting a premium on speed, and his adjustment to end is coming along.  But watching him go up against Kwame Harris or Kirk Chambers is absolutely unfair.  That being said, Scott can't get a good enough push right now to get out on the field.  Behind him is walk-on sophomore Chris Gaines, who has been out of football for a year while he has played rugby at Stanford.  To make the transition even more difficult, Chris is playing a completely new position at DE from his high school days at OG and LB.  So he has a lot of learning to do before he can compete.  One note on Chris, though: the first time I saw him I thought "defensive tackle."  He has a compact but potentially powerful frame, and I fully expect that he will move inside, particularly once he gets a year of Ron Forbes' strength program under his belt.

The top two guys are more interesting right now, with Drew and Amon each having big roles on this defensive line.  While Drew is currently the starter in the base defense, Amon is getting the nod in the nickel package.  Don't be surprised if you see Amon get in the game in the base set, as well.  Drew and Amon are both really good athletes, though with different strengths.  It will be interesting to see how their substitutions and the defensive playcalling utilizes them this fall.  One of the best compliments I have heard for Drew came from one of the veteran offensive linemen, who pined to have him return to that side of the ball - said Caylor became the third best tackle on the team after less than a week at the position when he switched there earlier in his career.  Injuries with the starting DEs moved him back to defense, where he started four games immediately after the return move.  This is an underrated 'utility man' for Stanford.

Two final overall notes on these ends: 1) I have seen in practices where these guys play on the 'other' side of the line.  Julian Jenkins line up on the strong side, while Will Svitek is the weakside rush end.  Or Michael Lovelady moves over to the strong side.  So don't pigeon-hole these guys into their slots above in this depth chart.  That is not a strict parameter in this edition of Stanford football.  2) This is a deep group, and you will see them rotate in the game.  In the past, guys primarily rotated for different patterns (i.e. nickel) or injury, but rarely otherwise did the #2 enter the game.  Given the intense rush that this defense wants to provide, the staff wants to see fresh legs.  And where there is talent, there will be substitutions.  The expectation is that five or six of these ends will play in the opener, independent of injury...

Coach's take: straight from the lips of Peter McCarty...

"It's nice having bright kids.  I've had smart kids before, but these are bright kids"

"I've always felt attention to detail is fundamental to understanding.  And when you really understand how to play the position, you can then handle all the responsibilities."

"To be an end, you don't necessarily have to have athletic gifts.  If you use your mind, you can be a top player."

"It is my p

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