The Pac-12 is a conference known for offense. Thanks in large part to the recent success of the Oregon Ducks, the national perception of the Pac-12 is that the teams can score at will but are unable to play the the style of defense one sees in the S.E.C. (and, you know, defense wins championships).
Stanford coach David Shaw, however, feels the conference on the whole is very improved on defense. Shaw shared his thoughts with Kevin Gemmell of ESPN.com:
Maybe we’re getting to a golden era for defensive players in this conference because you’ve got good defensive units and some really elite standout players.
I think what we’re starting to see is the individual players and coordinators starting to get some notoriety. When Oregon started being really good and scoring a ton of points, people didn’t realize they were keeping people from scoring too and playing great defense. To this day I still think they have the most underrated defensive coordinator [Nick Aliotti] in the country.
Hopefully 2013 will be the season the Pac-12 finally gets the credit it deserves on defense. With star players like Anthony Barr, Will Sutton, Scott Crichton, and Shayne Skov, the conference is loaded with phenomenal athletes on the defensive side of the ball. If the Pac-12 has any hopes of being the conference that finally dethrones the dominant S.E.C., relying on high-powered offenses won’t be enough.