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Stanford defensive line anchors dominant showing vs. Oregon

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Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports
Josh Mauro and the Stanford defensive line kept Oregon's explosive offense in check.

STANFORD, Calif. -- Looking like the fourth Hanson brother, Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov walked into the tiny interview room just a few steps from the field where the Cardinal had just upset Oregon wearing plastic black eyeglasses without lenses and with white tape around the bridge. What was more noteworthy was the "49" scrawled in black magic market on Skov's left bicep, though the sweat of the game had washed away some of the tribute to injured defensive end Ben Gardner.

Though Gardner is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle, the rest of the Stanford defensive line stepped in admirably to hold the Ducks scoreless for the first 49:49 of the game, then hold on for a 26-20 win.

The forgotten front three of Henry Anderson, David Parry and Josh Mauro helped hold the UO running backs to 78 rushing yards on 18 carries, a paltry 4.3 yards-per-carry average for a trio that had been picking up 6.74 yards per attempt in the first eight games of the season. De'Anthony Thomas, who said earlier in the week that UO should score 40 points, managed 30 yards on six carries.

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Stanford outgained UO on the ground, 274-62.

It was exactly how head coach David Shaw wanted to play, splashed across the front of Stanford's new football complex.

"When you walk into our facility, the players-only entrance, to the left is the offensive line, to the right is a picture of the defensive line," Shaw said. "That is what football is all about.

"You control the line of scrimmage, and you have a chance to win."

And while the Stanford linebackers usually get most of the credit, it was those in front of them that did the dirty work, occupying blockers to allow Shayne Skov, A.J. Tarpley, Trent Murphy and James Vaughters to combine for 22 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss with 2.5 sacks.

"We knew we could play with these guys. We knew we could stop the running game and contain (UO quarterback Marcus) Mariota a little bit," Anderson said.

In his first game back from a knee injury, Anderson had five tackles with one-half sack, showing no apparent issues with his conditioning. That had been the concern going into the game, whether the redshirt junior could handle UO's aggressive tempo.

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"You never know how much bike work is going to translate to football," Shaw said. "But he did great.

"I thought all our guys up front played well. Josh Mauro played great also."

Mauro, who had three tackles with one-half tackle for loss, had been the one stepping up during Anderson's absence. Now, put in the position of replacing Gardner, Mauro (6-foot-6, 282 pounds) kept on rolling.

And while the Stanford linebackers will be the stars in the 2014 NFL Draft, Gardner and Mauro will be again under the radar.

But Anderson warned scouts not to overlook Mauro.

"I feel like he is one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the country," Anderson said. "He doesn't really get a lot of the publicity some other guys get, but he is one good defensive lineman and he does everything.

"He runs to the ball every play, he has got an incredible get-off, he has got really good hands. He does everything you want a defensive lineman to have. He has been a huge part of our defensive success this year."

After holding the UO offense to two touchdowns for the second consecutive season, no one can disagree with that assessment.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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