Top things learned so far this spring: No. 1

The countdown of five things we learned from the first half of Stanford spring practice concludes.

No. 1: Reloading.

Stanford loses a lot of talent off last year's Rose Bowl team -- both on the field and the coaching staff -- but halfway through spring practice it appears to be business as usual.

After an open scrimmage dominated by the defense on Saturday, coach David Shaw made an observation: "Apparently we can play defense without Derek Mason, Shayne Skov and Trent Murphy."

At this point, he's right. Or at least appears to be.

There are a number of holes the Cardinal need to fill before the season opener against UC Davis on Aug. 30, but none of them paint the program as one that will assuredly take a step back. For the fifth straight season, the team should be in the running for the conference title.

Skov may be gone, but A.J. Tarpley -- maybe the most underrated player in the conference -- is back for his fourth season as a starter.

Mason is now at Vanderbilt, but new defensive coordinator Lance Anderson was with the program before Mason arrived and, like his predecessor, will keep the framework installed by Vic Fangio.

Murphy is off to the NFL, but James Vaughters and Kevin Anderson have shown they belong.

Four offensive linemen need to be replaced, but the line still figures to be a strength of the team.

After beating Notre Dame to get to 10 wins for the fourth straight season, Shaw said it "puts this program amongst the elite."

Nothing this spring has indicated anything will change.


No. 2: Coaching staff settled

No. 3: Crower makes strides; Burns in doghouse

No. 4: No clear leader at running back

No. 5: The offensive line is set