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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 24, 2010 at 1:05 PM

Martin talks corners

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I had a chance yesterday to talk a little bit with UW cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin about his position group, part of a secondary that statistically is performing better of late.
Defensive stats can always be spun a few different ways, and the fact that UW has allowed the fewest touchdown passes of any Pac-10 team during conference games (seven) is surely related in part to the fact that UW has allowed the most rushing touchdowns (24 — three more than anyone else in the conference despite playing one fewer game than four other teams).
But the UCLA game was undoubtedly one of the better played by a UW secondary in a while as the Huskies held the Bruins to 6-25 passes and picked off three passes, all three setting up Husky touchdowns — including one returned by Quinton Richardson for a critical score in the fourth quarter (which is pictured to the right in a Dean Rutz photo).
So I thought it made sense to check in with Martin and get some of his thoughts:
— Martin said he thinks that while Richardson’s play has been cited of late for its improvement, he thinks the junior has been “pretty solid this year from the get-go. He just hadn’t had as many opportunities to make plays on the ball as some of our other defensive backs until the last couple of weeks. So people are starting now to see his improvement now when you couldn’t really until now because he wasn’t getting opportunities.”
— He said he thinks added maturity has been the key this year for Richardson after what was a somewhat rocky 2009 when he began the season as a starter and ended it as a reserve. “It’s clear to him now who he needs to be on the field and off the field and academically and in his personal life,” Martin said. “He struggled some last year but I think it was due to a maturity factor of not knowing and not trusting and having that confidence. I believe a lot of the guys in the secondary were playing not to make a mistake instead of playing to make a play.”
— He expanded on that last statement, saying that “Our whole secondary we’ve had our problems at times with coverage and pass interferences and all sorts of things that could all be due to wanting to please us as coaches and wanting to not let the team down instead of just going out there and making a play. I think now that kind of the guard is coming down to where we have given them the freedom to play fast, play free. We understand there is going to be a mistake or two — just make sure there isn’t a mistake that kills us — but go ahead and make your play, too.”
— He said he thinks Desmond Trufant is beginning to get past some early-season struggles by also letting the game come to him a little bit more. “Same type of thing that early in the yeara he was pressinng to make the big play,” Martin said. “He wasn’t really holding back as far as ‘I don’t want to make the mistake.’ But his thing was ‘I’ve got to make this play.’ We’ve told him he doesn’t have to do everybody’s job, just do your job. Just do what you can do to make plays.”
— Those two have emerged as the two players to get most of the plays at corner with safety Sean Parker usually used as the nickel. But Martin said that doesn’t mean other players on the roster aren’t vying for playing time. He said Adam Long has really played well in practice of late and has gotten more time on special teams. “It’s kind of like last year where he really came on in the second half of the year,” Martin said. “I kind of joke with him that he’s a second-half player. He looks so much faster and fresher now. He is doing well.”
— Also vying for time, he said, is true freshman Greg Ducre. “He is doing well,” Martin said. “He is going through some growing pains but he’s coming along. His athleticism stands out as far as his speed and catching and tackling ability, that’s why he’s been getting a lot of run on special teams.”
— He said sophomore Anthony Gobern has also had some good moments in practice lately and has been playing more on special teams. “He’s one of our faster guys back there, too,” Martin said. “His thing is just learning the defense. One thing people forget about Tony is that this is really only his second year playing cornerback. He was a quarterback in high school and then he was hurt (his first year at UW). Last year was his first time getting a full year at cornerback.”
— And he said sophomore Anthony Boyles is “doing well, he just still has a little bit of freelance in him and that’s what kind of hurts him. He’s a good physical speciman and he’s good in man-to-man stuff. But we call upon our corners to do a lot more stuff than just play man-to-man.” He said if Boyles can master the rest of the defense he can find his way on the field. Boyles, however, is also used sometimes as a receiver on the scout team if the Huskies want to give the No. 1 defense a look with a bigger receiver. “He gives us a great look emulating the other team’s best receiver,” Martin said, adding that Boyles has been “flip-flopping” between whether he wants to remain at cornerback or go back to receiver. He said a decision will have to be made after the season about where Boyles best fits long-term and then will have to work solely at that position the rest of the season. He said that it hasn’t probably helped Boyles get on the field to have him also spend some weeks at receiver, but it’s helped the team and Boyles has volunteered for the duty. “He’s got to get his mind set on where he sees himself in the future,” Martin said.

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