Okay, so I erred yesterday in naming the USC “school song” that the Huskies are playing over and over and over and over and over and over and over in practice this week. It’s actually Tribute to Troy, which I will now be hearing in my sleep after it permeated the entirety of practice for the second straight day as the Huskies prepare to play at USC Saturday. (They really ought to just go all the way and rent a horse to circle the track all week and get the full effect).
Anyway, enough with that.
Being Tuesday, it was our day to talk to defensive coaches and players after a two-hour full pads practice. In the best news from practice, there didn’t appear to be any new injuries.
In the most interesting news, for the second straight day the Huskies had a lot of defensive fronts that featured Everrette Thompson back at tackle and Cameron Elisara out at end.
“We’ve switched those guys,” said defensive coordinator Nick Holt afterward.
Part of it is simply an attempt to find the best defensive front in the wake of the Nebraska loss. But part of it also is that Thompson played well at tackle against USC a year ago, coming in early as the Huskies decided going with a little faster front was a good way to combat the Trojans (the other starters in that alignment today remained Talia Crichton at end and Alameda Ta’amu at the other tackle).
Holt said that Elisara “is a little quicker. Everrette is really lanky and long, which is really good for some things. Cameron has a little quicker step which might help being outside.”
Thompson said he likes the move.
“I think we are trying to stick with the same lineup we had last year,” he said. “I feel pretty comfortable in that position, too. I played it a lot last year.”
Holt explained the move further as “just rotating guys. And he (Thompson) does a really good job in there. It’s where he played last year, so maybe we can do some better things when he’s in there. He was doing okay at end but I think he’s feeling real comfortable in there.” Holt said that Sione Potoa’e will also likely get increased reps at tackle and Hau’oli Jamora at end.
“We’re just trying to get our best guys on the field and trying to rotate guys,” he said. “We just have to see if it proves to be correct.”
Holt also made it clear that he’s eager to get back on the field and show that the UW defense is better than it looked against Nebraska.
“Wouldn’t you want to go play again if you are a competitor?,” he asked. “You’d want to go play again, right? I was ready to play again Saturday night, quite honestly. Because you know you’re better than how you looked, and you want to prove that all the time.”
In some non-defense news, Daniel Kanczugowksi appeared to split reps during much of practice with Cody Habben at right tackle. Also, Nick Montana took most of the snaps during the final team sessions as the backup QB, though he was wearing a scout number and mostly worked with the scout team earlier in the practice. We don’t get access to UW coach Steve Sarkisian after Tuesday practices, so not sure what the deal is with either of those. James Johnson again took a lot of reps at WR and appears on the way back.
Here’s more of what Holt had to say about the defense and facing USC:
ON WHETHER IT’S BETTER PLAYING A MORE TRADITIONAL OFFENSE THIS WEEK: “That remains to be seen. Ask me after the game. They pose some different threats. They come at you at all angles. Their quarterback obviously is not as fast as the guy we faced the other day but they have a lot of weapons and they throw the ball a little bit better than the people we haave played against, I know that. I think they might be a little more balanced, quite honestly, so they are good at running and they are good at passing, so they have a little more threats than some of the other people.”
ON USC RUNNING MORE THIS YEAR: “They might be running earlier a little bit more. I think their running backs are doing a nice job. I think the guys are a little more committed to the run game, maybe, than in the past. They always tried to be balanced and you look at them and they are pretty dang balanced and doing a nice job of that.”
ON THE USC OFFENSE BEING A LITTLE DIFFERENT CARROLL: “There are some different things. A lot of similarities but they are doing some different stuff. They really like to run the ball, they really do, they are a committed running team, and that’s a tribute to some of their coaches who are passionate about the run game and they are doing a nice job of that.”
ON WHETHER LANE KIFFIN WAS THIS RUN-ORIENTED DURING HIS EARLIER TIME AT USC: “I think maybe as you get older you get to appreciate the run game a little bit more. Because it takes so much pressure off a lot of other positions such as the quarterback and the defense and I think that as guys get older, and especially if you have some good running backs and offensive linemen you want to be physical and control the ball and see the time run out. They still like to score a lot of points. They love to put up big numbers, but it all starts with the run game, it really does.”
ON UW’S TACKLING: “I hope it’s better than it was against Nebraska — it couldn’t get any worse. You guys are out here quite a bit, we work on that stuff all the time, It was just one of those bad days and hopefully it won’t be a bad day on Saturday. They are goinig to get some of their yards just because they are pretty good but we can’t let them have all that extra stuff because we aren’t doinig a nice job putting a face on people.”
ON THE SEASON FEELING LIKE IT’S STARTING OVER: “It seems like. … when you play the way you played and we should kind of stop talking about it because we’ve kind of moved on, but it seems like forever. You want to go and play the next day so you can erase all those bad feelings you have, how disgusted you really are. But we had to swaller (editor’s note —- that’s what it sounded like he said) around in just this crap these last two weeks thinking about it, but you’ve got to move on. And so it seems like it has been forever that we’ve played and its time to play a game man, jeez, it’s time to get going — it’s already October just about.”
ON IT BEING GOOD TO HAVE A BYE WEEK BEFORE FACING A PHYSICAL TEAM: “You need to get healthy which we were. We weren’t banged up, not too bad. So, get back to fundamentals, quite honestly. Get back to good fundamentals, good hard work, good practices during the bye week. Get in the weight room, get fresh, and get our bodies feeling good again and come back with a nice fresh frame of mind, and I think we accomplished that last week and this week so far has been a good week.”
ON WHETHER IT HELPS KNOWING A LOT ABOUT USC: “It helps because you know the scheme a little more than some of the other stuff. Sometimes it doesn’t work out exactly the way you want there’s always some new wrinkles people put in. But it’s not the option or things like that.”
ON WHAT THE USC-WSU FILM SHOWED: “They looked really good knocking guys off the ball and they were just kind of superior in talent last weekend. So hopefully we go down there and play our type of game and do really good at the line of scrimmage and compete. Thats the bottom line. We know them real well. They’re physical up front, but no more physical than some of the other teams we play.”
ON WHAT USC LOOKS LIKE OFFENSIVELY: “They’re pretty balanced right now if you look at their statistics. But they do a nice job running the football. They get you committed to stopping the run and then they hit you with some bit play-action passes, and thats kind of what they like to do. They’ve got a quarterback who can throw the ball, and theyve got some running backs who can run the ball, theyve got a couple of nice wide-outs who can catch the ball. They’ve got a lot of weapons, and theyve got some really nice things they do. Youve got to do a nice job with your stuff and be in turn with all the stuff.”
ON ANY CHANGES IN THE BACK END: “Well, Sean Parker will get more reps because he’s getting better. That’s kind of solidified. He’ll play more.”
ON FUNDAMENTALS WORKED ON DURING THE BYE WEEK BESIDES TACKLING: “Well, pad level, peeking and not defeating the one-on-one blocks…trying to do too much…just good, fundamental technique. We weren’t very good at a lot of positions, but mostly it showed up front, especially the front four. It wasn’t very good.”
ON DEFENDING AGAINST USC’S PROPENSITY TO GO FOR TWO AFTER TOUCHDOWNS: “Golly, it’s like Oregon. They are all over the place. We leave our defense out there anyway for field goals and stuff like that. But you have to be able…when they have four guys over there, you have to make sure you have enough numbers over there. If they have two guys here, you better have enough numbers right there. And then five guys on the other side? You have to match up with them. And you have to be in tune, because they do it really quick. It’s another thing you have to really work on, and I think it’s half the reason why people do that – just so defenses have to spend some time working on that, as opposed to some other stuff.”