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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

April 5, 2009 at 7:56 PM

A few words with Johnny Nansen

Much has been made of Steve Sarkisian’s memory of his trip to Husky Stadium as a player in 1996 as quarterback of BYU, and how he hopes to again turn the venue into one of the toughest for an opposing team in the Pac-10.
Another member of the playing staff who had some similar experiences is new defensive line coach Johnny Nansen, who was a three-year letterman at Washington State from 1994-96, a team captain as a senior, and played a couple of times at Husky Stadium.
“We’re going to get it back like it was back then,” Nansen said, remembering a couple of loud WSU Apple Cup losses.
As a senior at WSU, Nansen was a co-winner of the school’s J. Fred Bohler Award, an award voted on by teammates for a player who best exemplifies the inspiration of the former Cougar coach.
Nansen’s hoping to put those same qualities to use now to reinvigorate Washington’s defensive line. Along with defensive coordinator Nick Holt, who also spends a lot of time working with the line, Nansen helped orchestrate one fairly significant change, deciding to use Daniel Te’o-Nesheim inside as well as outside.
“We want to put Daniel in a position to make plays,” Nansen said. “We know he played end last year but we want to move him inside because he will create more one-on-ones at the three technique. This defense is built around a great defensive line so we want to take a good look at everybody and see where they fit.”
Asked for players that have caught his eye through three practices, Nansen mentioned Te’o-Nesheim, and DTs Cameron Elisara and Alameda Ta’amu. But he also cautioned that it’s really early.
“Next Saturday it becomes a whole different deal when we put on full pads and start tackling people,” he said. “But right now, they all look good.”
Ta’amu, who played last year as a true freshman, is one of the most intriguing. Asked what he weights right now, Nansen said “he told me 348 this morning and that’s without breakfast.”
That will make Ta’amu an imposing force in the middle, but Nansen said the Huskies will hope he weighs in a little slimmer next fall.
“He’s working hard and he’s only going to get better,” Nansen said. “He understands football, it’s important top him now. If we can get him, he’s going to have a great spring and a great off-season and you’ll see a totally different kid.” Nansen said if Ta’amu slims down some “he’ll play a lot faster. But he understands that.”
Nansen also likes what he has seen so far of another frosh who was forced into starting duty last season, DE Everrette Thompson.
“Everrette is doing some great things,” Nansen said. “He’s an athletic kid. Obviously, some of these guys played young and they understand what it takes to play in game situations. But we have to develop them, break them down so they can learn the base, how to play defensive line. Everrette will be playing on the edge because he’s so long and tall. We’ll put him in situations to make plays.”



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