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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 23, 2009 at 9:16 PM

A few words from Nick Holt

This being Wednesday, it was also our first chance this week to talk to UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt, who helped guide a Husky defensive effort Saturday that by any objective measure could truly be called “awesome.”
But he also made one apology — for the sideline interference penalty he drew in the third quarter giving the Trojans a first-down of a third-and-17 play. Holt said he was imploring a UW cornerback to make a tackle and I was “getting so involved for him to make the tackle and I got too close to the sideline. I wanted the kid to make the tackle and it was my fault. It was totally, totally, totally bad, irresponsible football coaching by myself, caught up in the heat of the moment making a bad play.” He said that hadn’t happened to him recently but that “in my younger days, as a youth as a coach, I had a couple of them.”
As for the game itself, Holt agreed that it wasn’t all that bad — while also making some comments that give some additional insight into how he and this coaching staff approach things — saying that “take those (first) two series out of the equation, statistically it would have a good game as well as watching it on film.”
One of the keys to the turnaround after the first two series was the defensive line switch up front — Cameron Elisara moved from what the coaches call “three-technique” to nose tackle in place of Alameda Ta’amu with Everrette Thompson moving in at Elisara’s spot.
Holt said Thompson did well enough but that “the important move was getting a faster nose guard on their center so he couldn’t get off on our linebackers and Cameron was quicker and he got it done. We had to find someone to play his position and Everrette had played in games, he’s long, lanky and he’s very smart and he’s tough and he went in there and got the job done.” It was a move made in part to combat USC’s zone blocking up front and it’s likely the Huskies will revert to the Ta’amu-Elisara combo this week to face a more straight-forward Stanford O-line. Talia Crichton also moved in at one defensive end spot essentially for good after the first two series, as well.
“We made some personnel changes because some guys weren’t doing things right correctly, whether it was physical or mental — a little bit of both — and then we just settled down and played,” Holt said.
Asked how the changes evolved, Holt said: “We always look, that’s our job as coaches, to find out what the breakdowns are and to make changes with those breakdowns. We know exactly what they were and, okay, after one breakdown it’s ‘come on, let’s go.’ And after two or three you have to go with somebody else, and that’s what competition is all about and those guys know that. They are not mad that some of those guys got replaced. They understood they weren’t getting the job done. We’ve got to get guys that get the job done.”
Holt said the win and the way it happened could have long-reaching ramifications for the defense.
“This week was huge because i think now the kids are really looking at buying in and saying ‘maybe these guys kind of understand a little more than I do and I’m going to do it his way. And I think in two days we’ve made a ton of progress just in our assignment stuff.”
A win like that, he said “gives you credibility as a coach they start believing more and more and now we can take them places where they might not want to be taken, so every day it’s a process with these guys.”
Holt compared it to a 27-0 win that USC had over UCLA in the first season there for Pete Carroll, a game many of the Trojans have pointed to as a turning point in Carroll’s rebuilding. “At the end of the year, kids were believing,” Holt said. “It’s a process.”
Another key player in Saturday’s win was Justin Glenn, who has secured the free safety spot and had seven tackles, including on two of USC’s big early runs, helping prevent TDs on each.
“He’s done a good job playing in the middle of the field,” Holt said. “He has corner skills, he can redirect and he can tackle people and so he’s made a world of difference because as you saw last Saturday, there were a bunch of plays, a bunch of plays, where he was all by himself and he made some huge midfield tackles. They weren’t pretty but he got the guy down so we were allowed to play again.”
Like Sarkisian, he said Glenn has made a quick transition since moving from cornerback.
“We are always tryingto improve our club and unfortunately we can’t get rid of guys or bring guys in every week — we have to deal with what we have here,” he said. “So we are always looking to better our guys, and he was one of the guys we did that with and with him, he’s a smart kid and you have to be a good football smart kid to be a safety. He can pick it up and he is doing a great job with it.”
As for Stanford, Holt agreed it will be another stiff test of UW’s run defense.
“Every week is big for the run defense,” he said. “You always) want to stop the run first and make the offense one dimensional. These guys are a good running football team, as is USC (averaging 204. 7 yards per game) and No. 7 (Toby Gerhart) is a good good running back. And they are a committed run team. They use two-tight ends quit a bit in their package and they are good at it. So you’ve got to be solid and be ready mentally to be physical.”
Ultimately, Holt said the team just has to keep improving at knowing its assignments.
“If we can eliminate more of the mistakes mentally we have a chance to be really solid,” he said.

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