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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

August 31, 2010 at 7:08 PM

Tuesday practice notes — A day for the defense

Just as the Huskies now move into a gameweek mode, so does the media. During game weeks, we get to talk to defensive players and coaches on Tuesday, offensive players and coaches on Wednesday.
So inevitably, the focus was on the defense after today’s two-hour practice, held at the Dempsey Indoor with a steady rain falling.
And that’s where the story appeared to be during practice, as well, as Everrette Thompson (right) again took a regular amount of snaps with the number one unit at defensive end and afterward pronounced himself good to go for Saturday’s game.
“I’m feeling good, moving around a lot, running with the ones,” Thompson said. “So now I’m just trying to get mentally prepared for the game.”
Thompson was projected as a starter before injuring his Achilles shortly before spring ball and sitting out. Coaches have called his return to health a key for the defense, and it looks like it’s going to happen.
“Right now I’m just 100 precent,” he said. “I’m not limiting myself or thinking if I’m 100 percent. I’m just going out and playing and having fun.”
Thompson’s fellow defensive end, Kalani Aldrich, got a little bit of work, but defensive coordinator Nick Holt said it’s still unclear how much he might help Saturday.

“He’s getting better,” Holt said. “We’re going to use him throughout the season. He might still be a little ways away. The problem is he’ll go, and then it’ll swell up and he’ll have to stay off it a couple of days. We’re just trying to get it to where it doesn’t have swelling after practice.”
Thompson’s return, though, return bolsters a defense that coaches have said throughout camp has a chance to be a lot better than some outside observeres have predicted.
That was the theme of some of the questions sent the way of Holt, who said it’s obvious that the continuity of coaches and players being in the second year of the system is making a big difference.
“The scheme, the players, we know what the players can and cannot do,” Holt said. “And they’ve all gotten better they all know the package a lot better so they are playing faster. There’s not a lot of doubt. So obviously we feel better. We know what to expect. We’ve been in the games with these guys before. There have been some heartaches and some great things that have happened so we know what to expect of our guys, and they know what to expect. They trust us and we trust them.”
That will be critical this week against a BYU team that rarely struggles to move the ball at home.
“Very talented, very talented, especially at their place and an opener when they have a bunch of maybe new things that they are going to do with all the new type of personnel,” Holt said. “They lost a lot of good players last year, but obviously they’ve got a lot of good guys coming back, but they’ve got some new faces at the skill – especially quarterback. So you’ve got to make sure that you’re covering a lot of bases here on what they could do – whether who is in the game or having both in the game at the same time. You’ve got to be ready for that stuff nowadays. So it’s like any opener; you spend all season getting ready and you still don’t know what you’re going to get. Bottom line is you’ve got to show up, tackle real well, play hard and get some turnovers.”
The Huskies are having to prepare for both of BYU’s QBs, Riley Nelson and Jake Heaps. Said Holt: “It probably doesn’t matter (who plays), but we’ve had enough time to prepare for an opponent, regardless of who it is. It’s time to play ball here in a couple days. See what we have and hopefully we come ready to play. There’s some defenses we like better than others with certain quarterbacks or receivers in the game, or tight ends in the game. Who knows their tight end situation, there are all new guys. We have to wait and see what they give us and go from there.”
Here are a few other thoughts from Holt:
On cleaning things up at the line of scrimmage for the defense: “Being onside, for one – not jumping. Cotton in the ears, so to speak…watching the ball and not being sloppy in your alignments where your head or your hands are in the neutral zone. Just being sharp on the details – whether it’s during a regular snap from scrimmage or on a field goal block or on a safe punt situation…just being on the details. That’s having your i’s dotted and t’s crossed as far as defensively and the defensive line. I think it goes also in your coverage where you’re not grabbing guys all the time. Sometimes you get sloppy in practice when you’re grabbing guys and tugging on ’em…and I’m talking about the DB’s in one-on-ones or linebackers in zone coverage. You can’t be sloppy with your hands and be real sharp at the line of scrimmage with your defensive linemen. And it also talks about our pad level and playing lower, getting our pads down and our pads out and using our hands and being very, very sudden with being able to strike with our hands and being able to get off blocks. That’s what we’re talking about being really sharp at the line of scrimmage…no dumb penalties and playing with really, really good pad level. Sometimes you can move around too much and you create your own problems. We like to get set, get our cleats in the grass and then go. Sometimes we have an advantage being able to move in and move out of stuff, but in the long run sometimes that can tie you down too.”
On Desmond Trufant: “He’s really improved. He’s a year older, he’s a year stronger. He knows the defense really well. He’s a special player and he’s going to get even better.”
On the benefits of having an NFL brother for Trufant : “He comes from a football family. I think there’s no question that’s helped, growing up with a bunch of brothers that probably beat him up and throwing you around playing catch in the hallway and all that stuff…he has bloodlines. He comes from a football family and it’s rubbed off. He’s a product of his environment. He’s been around good football players and he’s a good football player himself.”
On the improvement since the second scrimmage: “I think we have progressed. The second scrimmage was kind of sloppy and we didn’t tackle real well. But I think we have gotten better in some of that stuff — we better, it’s time to play. Hopefully it shows on Saturday.”
On the challenges of playing BYU: “They give you a lot of different formations, a lot of motions. But it comes down to they have really good offensive linemen. They are big and physical. They get in the shot gun, big old splits, so it creates a lot of passing windows or running lanes because their splits are so huge. And they are really good at what they do. Look historically they are one of the best programs in the country year in and year out. And I’m sure playing at their place is difficult with their crowd and them being able to function with their noise and feeling good in their place. I think the biggest problem they pose is just them being who they are and being really good at what they do, whether its all the quick game stuff, the high percentage passing game. Spreading you out but then dinking it around. And then when they want to run the ball they do a good job at that because they are big and physical. They do a nice job with their offense.”
On playing three safeties together: “When they are all out there together it’s some of our nickel stuff. And hopefully we can do more of that this year, it remains to be seen. Last year we didn’t have the bodies to do it, now we do. We’ve got some corners, we’ve got some safeties, we are healthy still. So we can maybe do some of that throughout the year. We are ready to do some of it, maybe not this week but when we get some more wide out things, open spread stuff that we see sometimes in our conference. But we’ll have to wait and see. This might not be one of those weeks that you do all that stuff. But we keep working it and getting guys on the field in case someone gets hurt and moving guys around mixing and matching stuff. So it’s been good for those guys.”
On the starters and being eager to see them play: “I’m eager to play a ball game against whoever is out there. I think there are some backups that need to sharpen up the next couple days, but they’ve come a ways the lasts couple days and gotten a lot better. Some of the young linebackers really need to step up and they are starting too which is really cool to see.”
On people talking about the defense : “I really don’t pay attention to some of that stuff. We are going to do what we do, we are who we are. We are going to play hard, we are going to be hopefully tackles well and be physical and tenacious defense and play smart and hopefully we get the ball back for our offense and in the final outcome win a lot of games.”
On playing more man defense and pressuring more: “We’ll do what we do and we’ll just have to wait and see if that’s the type of offense with a running quarterback and all that kind of stuff that we could see this week, blitzing and all that kind of stuff may not be the smartest thing to do. Just depends on the offense we play week in and week out what we can and cannot do., I think athletically in the secondary there are opportunities to play more man coverage, but really if you look at it percentage wise it will probably end up being the same as last year.”
— WR James Johnson got a lot of work and looks substantially improved in his recovery from a sprained ankle. We don’t get to talk to UW coach Steve Sarkisian afterward, however, so no official progress report.
Keith Price took most of the snaps with the No. 2 offense while Nick Montana worked primarily with the service team, wearing the jersey number of Nelson.
— The team was in full pads but no full contact this close to a game.
Nate Williams had one of the highlight plays with a tumbling interception of a tipped Jake Locker pass during the team period.
— There were no apparent new injuries or changes to the depth chart.



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