I had a chance to ask UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt a few questions looking back at spring football, and ahead to the season, after practice on Friday. Here’s what he had to say:
General thoughts on spring ball: “One thing is it’s unfortunate that we had five or six guys that our potentially really good football players not go through spring ball — that’s two linebackers, Cooper Pelluer, Princteon Fuimaono; and then our three defensive back, Greg Ducre, Sean Parker and Taz Stevenson. We count all five of those guys in our two-deep and it really kind of put a little damper on some stuff as far as the progress we could have made because I think those guys are going to be good players. So that was a little bit of a negative.
“On the other side of it, the guys that did participate in spring ball, I thought all of them got better. We still have a long ways to go but even some guys who have never really played a down for us, they got better, they tried, so in the long run we will be a better defense for it because a lot of guys got a lot of reps that might not have gotten reps if the other guys were healthy. So I think going into fall camp, hopefully we have a great summer conditioning, which I know we will, and then come back and everybody is healthy and ready to go. I like our kids — they are kind of our kids, they know what we expect of them, a good group of kids, but we are nowhere near where we need to be to be quite honest with you. So thank God we still have about 30 practices in fall camp — we are going to need them. And hopefully we can stay healthy through fall camp and just continue to improve. We are going to have to play pretty good defense this year — you always do — but no more Jake Locker and some guys and I think maybe we will become a little different team. I think we are going to be better in the long run, though.”
On specific areas that needed to improve in the spring and the ball: “I thought there was one goal, that we want to rush the passer, and I think we are getting a lot better at that. And hopefully that will lead to more turnovers. We didn’t create a lot of turnovers in the spring and a lot of it is the quarterbacks aren’t live and you can’t hit him, but a lot of it is I think the offense did a phenomenal job with ball security. The quarterbacks didn’t make bad decisions and they are scrambling and pretty athletic. I would have loved to see a lot more turnovers in the spring but hopefully we get that when we go live. That would be one thing that really sticks out.”
On a few guys who really stood out in the spring: “The normal guys that we are counting on had good springs. The two corners had good, solid springs and very coachable for two guys that are vets, that’s Quinton (Richardson) and Desmond (Trufant). I think Alameda (Ta’amu) had a good spring. I think Everrette Thompson had a good spring, Hau’oli (Jamora) had a really good spring, and then Josh Shirley and Andrew Hudson did some really good things and they are going to help us. The linebackers is a position where it’s still in flux. We’ve got a lot of guys there and they all got better but someone has got to rise up, some guys got to kind of separate themselves. So we need to get that done this summer. We have a lot of prospects, but nobody has really taken hold, other than Cort (Dennison) of the other two positions. So we’ve got to hopefully with the new guys that are here they will learn the stuff better so somebody can separate themselves from the other guys. That’s the biggest disappointment, but it’s kind of something we expected.”