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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

April 6, 2012 at 4:15 PM

Coachspeak — The assistants talk

I passed along lots of video earlier of four of UW’s new assistant coaches speaking to the media after practice today.

But I’m told by some of you that you prefer the old written word at times, as well — I assume that’s the over-50 set talking.

So after going through the tape of all of the interviews today, I decided to compile the best of what the coaches said (kind of like the best of the KISS solo albums):

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR ERIC KIESAU

On his reaction to being three practices in with the Huskies: “It’s been great and that’s the thing is a lot of the foundation Sark (Steve Sarkisian) has already set the last three years — there are a lot of similarities from the places that I have been and the things that we have done. There are some nuances that I have to pick up on, which has been going very smooth. Been a very easy transition from the players and the current staff and everybody involved.”

On Keith Price: “Love him. Absolutely love him. He’s a competitor, great smile on his face. He loves to practice. A lot of times you have great players, you have to convince them to practice. He loves it, he’s out here early throwing the ball, he’s very competitive. So all those things are going to make a great player.”

On Derrick Brown: “He’s a guy that really didn’t get a lot of reps last year but really spent a lot of time, when I first got here we spent a lot of time together. He’s really progressing well, physically he’s still got to work a little bit, but he’s making the transition. He’s on the right side of the field with his reads and where he’s supposed to be, so he’s got to continue to work on them throughout camp.”

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR JUSTIN WILCOX

On going to more 3-4 looks — is it the scheme he prefers or what fits the players here”: It’s a little bit of both. Kind of what we think is the best chance for us personnel-wise and also schematically for the teams we are going to play against, the style of offense that we see, guys that fit the skill set now. Whether you are 4-3 or 3-4, there is no magic answer — if there was, everybody would be doing what that is. You pick your philosophy, your scheme and then you move forward with it and teach it and make sure the guys understand what the expectations are and how to play it, and you’ve got to get better at it. And at the end it’s about understanding the expectations, down in and down out playing your technique over and over again and getting good at it.”

On the 3-4 being better against the pass: “You’ve still got to play the run, I don’t care — even teams that play one-back, it’s keeping edges to the defense, having guys who have some vision. I also think personnel wise it might fit us better with some of the guys we have out there. We’ll still play four-down principles — it’s not like we are playing a true odd (front, meaning three men) every snap. I think anymore you’ve got to have a little bit of both to make sure you can have an answer for all the different types of offenses you see.. the balancing act is that you have enough but not too much where your own players are second-guessing themselves.”

On the challenges of integrating the new defense: “Any time it’s new, new words, new expectations, new technique maybe. Defense in general, just like offense, there are concepts that are going to carry over from place-to-place, baseline principles of football. Maybe how you teach it, maybe how you play the technique might be a little bit different, the verbiage is a little bit different. When you get a lot of moving pars from the offense and the tempo and all that, sometimes you can get a little bit of consternation, so we have to work through that and correct it so we are not doing it over and over again.”

On when the players start to move instinctively: “You want it yesterday. It’s really different from guy to guy and what we’ve got to make sure is that we are going to make a mistake but we need to not make repetitive mistakes where we fix it, we move on and they might make a new one and we’ll fix that one, but what we can’t have is repetitive mistakes then either we are not teaching it the right way or explaining it the right way or they not doing a good jpob studying it. It’s usually somewhere in between.

On guys who have stood out so far on defense: “I think Desmond Trufant has done a really good job, has really good ability, I like the way he has handled himself in meetings. It’s two days. Sean Parker seems to me a guy who has stood out in terms of preparation. I could go on.”

On having Josh Shirley play more as a stand-up end: “Josh has got really good explosiveness, probably the best thing he does is get off the ball and rush the passer and obviously you saw that in his ability to rush the quarterback last year. He’s not a huge guy by nature, so we felt like some of the fronts we were playing we want to protect him a little bit more, and by protect I mean set the big bodies too him so he can play a little looser, stand up and play on the edge. He’s got a good skill set, but we also don’t want to take away what he does best by having him become a linebacker per se, so it’s definitely kind of a hybrid spot. But he’s with the D-line in meetings and we are definitely excited about his potential at that spot.”

On Taz Stevenson moving to linebacker: “As far as Taz Stevenson we were looking at the linebacker group and there is going to be a competition in there and we needed to add some bodies to that competition and Taz was the most natural guy by his skill set and his size, he was probably the most natural one to move down and he was all for it.”

On a couple of fundamental things UW is working on this spring: “Obviously whatever scheme and defenses you have, we need to make sure we are good at playing that. It’s really different by each position. Up front we’ve got to be great striking blocks and be great with our hands and our eyes — that’s a huge emphasis for us this spring. In the back end it’s going to be covering people, and if a linebacker it’s going to be taking on blocks, matching people in your drops, good footwork. So those are the things we do every day, ,really getting back to basics every day. And as a defense, tackling is goig to be paramount and we will tackle every day. When you get out here and helmets and everybody is tagging off and you’ve got two hands on your hips and you look real sweet doing it, that’s not real football. You get a little bit of a wakeup call when the pads go on and things happen a little quicker and you get bounced around, so we’ve got to be able to finish. You can draw up every defense in the world but if you can’t get the guy on the ground, what’s the point. So we are going to tackle every day and we’ve got to improve, I don’t care where you are at, you can be in high school, college or the NFL, you’ve got to be a great tackling team in order to play good defense.”

DEFENSIVE LINE COACH TOSH LUPOI

On Danny Shelton: “I think he’s a gifted athlete, so I am excited to be working with him and it’s going to be a day by day process of getting better here but he’s showing some potential and I think he’s got a great future ahead of him.”

On initial impressions of his players: “Just the thing that really stands out is these guys their thirst for knowledge and getting better, their attention in meetings and practice. The thing that stood out the first day, the whole group is out here early doing extra work on their own, working the stuff we are talking about putting in motion, so I love the overall culture so far of these guys of how hungry they are of trying to get better on a daily basis.”

On things being emphasized this spring: “It’s just it’s a new defense for the guys a lot of new coaching and teaching so just addressing it every day and seeing it out here on the field and again in the meeting rooms, everything. It’s a totally new foundation for them so trying up front to really encourage these guys to strike and be able to lock out and really working for knock back up front as opposed to racing for the gaps, so trying to get that foundation with these guys to strike and come out of their hands and hips.”

On the transition for him to UW: “So far its been awesome. I couldn’t be happier. Just the culture here and what a big deal football is in this state and this area and the city of Seattle. I feel at home here and it all starts with the culture that is created from the top with our athletic director our head coach and it’s an incredible environment to be a part of where football is tremendously important here.”

DEFENSIVE BACKS COACH KEITH HEYWARD

On initial impressions of his position group: “We’ve got a solid group. I think we’ve got some good experience from past years, the guys playing and Marcus Peters, the redshirt freshman, is going to be good. But overall form the safeties and the corners it’s going to be a good group as far as depth. They can play I’ve just got to do my job in making sure I’m teaching them the defense.”

On other young guys standing out:Tre Watson is pretty smart and he does some good stuff, too. The young safeties are kind of held back right now because of injuries, (Travis) Feeney and James Sample, but they’ve both shown some good stuff. James is good with his arms and pressing playing down in the slot and Feeney has tremendous range and I hear he is a pretty good tackler.”

On his transition to UW: “At first, like any transition is, it’s kind of just a little bit awkward at first. But coach Sark is an awesome dude and the rest of our offensive and defensive staff we are in that same age, so it’s been a good chemistry and a good mixture from that standpoint. The only thing I find tough to adjust to is the cost of living. But other than that it’s been an easy integration.”

On it feeling weird wearing UW colors: “No it doesn’t. This is the uniform and these are the colors. At first, you know, you throw it on it’s like ‘oh my God that’s purple and it’s a W.’ But now this is what I wear and this is what it’s about, the W.”

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