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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

March 28, 2007 at 1:10 PM

Coach speak, the defense

OK, here it is. Our long-awaited interview with UW defensive coordinator Kent Baer.
Can you start off by giving us an overview of last season and where you see your defensive unit headed now?
BAER: I think the key to any team is staying healthy. If you can stay healthy, your starters and key backups, you have a chance to play better. We didn’t necessarily do that last season. Losing Dashon Goldson in the summer really hurt us, things like that.
But some of the things we wanted to get better at last season, we did. One was third downs, and we got so much better on third downs (UW was fourth in the Pac-10, allowing teams to convert 33.7 percent of third downs in 2006 compared to ninth and 44.5 percent in 2005). We played very well at times on third down and I thought we played a lot better in the red zone. If you look, a lot of the times we didn’t give up touchdowns, but nobody missed any field goals against us (the Huskies allowed a Pac-10 high 25 field goals, seven more than any other Pac-10 team allowed). That really hurt us.
I still think we are so inconsistent at times. We play really well in certain schemes and then sometimes we see a little different scheme and we don’t play as well. Some of our youth hurt us in terms of making key mistakes with the schemes of our defense that we just can’t make.
But overall, there are some games that you watch we played pretty decent. You watch the Oklahoma game, and for the most part, other than 4-5 plays, we played pretty decent in a tough place to play against a really good football team. We played really well against UCLA and USC and Cal, for the most part. We played well against Arizona and Arizona State, except for a couple of plays. We played well against Washington State and we actually played very well against Stanford other than that one play, that bubble screen. Our two worst games were Oregon and Oregon State. It’s just a matter of playing consistently all the time. It’s really going to be an emphasis going into spring just taking care of your own position.
Will the fact that the team is now in the third year of your system help with that consistency?
BAER: The first year, certainly mistakes were made because I don’t think they understood the entire defense. There’s a lot to what we do in terms of making adjustments, as there is with any football team. I thought we were much better a year ago, but we’re still not where we need to be. But I really believe we are going to be that much better this year, although we are going to play young guys at inside linebacker. But they are really talented and I’m excited about that. Most of the line comes back so there’s experience there. The depth in the secondary is a huge concern right now. But the guys we have coming back have played some and we like them a lot.
Can you discuss the defensive line?
BAER: If you look at it, that should be our strength because all of those guys returning there have started.
The guys who started there last year return across the board.
There’s (defensive end) Daniel Te’o-Nesheim was a first-year starter last year and played very well at times. He’s a kid who has a hard time keeping weight on because he’s so active and involved in so many things, he’s involved in track and a lot of things outside football. If we can get him bigger and stronger …. I love how he plays the game and his work ethic.
(Defensive tackle) Wilson Afoa is back inside and he’s been a starter for a couple years now and he should be that much better. We just have to keep him healthy. He had a few nicks last year that slowed him down a little.
Greyson Gunheim (an end), that day he got hurt in camp (in August) probably set him back a few weeks, and when he came back, I’m not sure he played full speed all the time.
Jordan Reffett (tackle) may not be the most talented guy, but he plays hard and he’s a good leader and he brings a lot of energy.
Those four guys you can probably say are our starters right now, and we should be that much better with those guys back.
Erick Lobos (tackle) is a guy who I think is healthy now and should be a key backup for us.
Caesar Rayford (an end) is a guy who had a tremendous winter for us. I think of some of the little things he did for us a year ago that were huge in terms of his confidence — the field goal block against Fresno State, the sack against Washington State, two or three other things. We’ve gone through as a staff and made tapes of all of our guys of the great things they’ve done to show them. He’s a guy who could have a tremendous year but we just have to do a great job of using him. He’s never going to be huge, it’s just not the body that he has. But I know he’s stronger than he was. He’s always in the weight room. And I know this is important to him.
Cameron Elisara (a tackle) is a guy who has to play for us this year. We actually came very close a couple of times last year of taking the redshirt off of him. He’s got a great work ethic, he’s one of the strongest guys on the team.
Darrion Jones (an end) is another guy who’s very strong and has got some talent, though he has a lot to learn, still. An there’s guys like Derek Kosub (Anthony Atkins) — all those guys have a chance to do something for us.
NEXT: A LOOK AT THE LINEBACKERS AND SECONDARY

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