Stanford's defense staying ahead of the curve

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STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- They traveled to Stanford from all over the country. They packed pens and paper -- and a list of questions -- and studied for hours preparing for fall exams.

No, not students.

Like the venture capitalists who visit this Silicon Valley campus searching for new ideas every year, about a half-dozen NFL teams sent coaches this offseason to see Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason, whose unit has become its own kind of innovator in the offensive-oriented Pac-12 Conference.

Every coach wanted to know: just what has been Stanford's secret to slowing down hurry-up offenses and solving read-option runs? Mason swears there's no magic formula.

But nobody in the conference -- and maybe the nation -- has been ahead of the curve more than the Cardinal's defense.