A big step up in competition for Stanford 

click to enlarge Stanford's Henry Anderson (91) will miss at least the next few games after suffering a knee injury against Army on Saturday, a big blow to the Cardinal defense. - JASON O. WATSON/2011 USA TODAY SPORTS FILE PHOTO
  • Jason O. Watson/2011 USA TODAY Sports file photo
  • Stanford's Henry Anderson (91) will miss at least the next few games after suffering a knee injury against Army on Saturday, a big blow to the Cardinal defense.

STANFORD — The last time the Stanford football team hooked up with Arizona State, Andrew Luck threw for 292 yards, Owen Marecic scored the game-winning touchdown and Jim Harbaugh was calling the shots on the sideline.

A lot can change in three years.

David Shaw is in, Harbaugh is out, Todd Graham replaced Dennis Erickson as the Sun Devils'coach, and the No. 5 Cardinal are opening Pac-12 Conference play as the defending Rose Bowl champions.

Nowadays, the No. 23 Sun Devils run an up-tempo spread offense while the Cardinal continue to play smash-mouth football. But Shaw said there a lot of "hard differences" between this year's club and the team that pulled out a 17-13 win in the desert three years ago.

"We were extremely explosive offensively — we're trying to get back to that," Shaw said. "Defensively, we were still finding ourselves that year. This year, I think we have a more entrenched identity, not to mention having all the fourth and fifth-year seniors."

Shaw said the Cardinal should benefit from watching tape of last week's game between the Sun Devils and Wisconsin, which plays a similar style of football.

The Sun Devils like to play fast — they ran 93 offensive plays last week — but they get after it on defense, too. Last year, they finished 27th in the nation in total defense (350.8 yards per game) and, right now, they're ranked 21st (304).

"If there's a blitz that's been drawn up — they run it," Shaw said.

Anderson out: Second-team All-Pac-12 selection Henry Anderson injured his knee against Army last week and is expected to miss at least the next few weeks, according to Shaw.

"Thank goodness we have some depth," Shaw said.

Senior Josh Mauro will start at defensive end in Anderson's place and Shaw expects Aziz Shittu, Nate Lohn and Ikenna Nwafor to see increased work.

"You feel a little void with [Anderson] not being there because he's a proven player," Mauro said. "But there's young guys that are hungry and ready to step up and take some reps."

Mauro, whom linebacker Trent Murphy referred to as the "Wild Horse Rider," recorded 6½ tackles against Army last week and Shaw said he was the team's defensive player of the week.

Prior to Anderson's injury, Mauro, who's 6-foot-6, 282 pounds, already played a significant number of snaps, lining up on both ends and at nose tackle.

"This kid's going to play in the NFL," Shaw said. "The fact that he 'wasn't a starter' as far as what these pieces of paper say is crap."

Injury roundup: Shaw said fullback Ryan Hewitt, who missed last week's game with a knee injury, will practice this week. He said linebacker Blake Martinez will miss Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury while senior cornerback Barry Browner is doubtful.

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Paul Gackle

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