As I mentioned earlier today, we had a chance to talk for a while after practice with UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.
Here’s the story for the Sunday paper that resulted.
And here are a few more thoughts from Wilcox that didn’t make it into the paper:
On the defense this season: “I think we took a step in the right direction and we can continue to build on that.”
On what needs to improve for next year: “It’s really going to be position specific and a couple of spots. We’ve got to play better man coverage in the back end, at the safety position. We have to tackle better up front, as well. Pressuring the quarterback with four guys has got to show improvement. … but they did a lot of things well and we showed improvement as a group at each position in certain areas.”
On Boise State: “They’ve got every formation, shift, motion and gadget play — they do it all. I know those guys well and I know they will have them coached up and ready to go. Everybody thinks it’s an advantage that you get to coach against them (since he had coached there for six years) but unless they tell us what play is coming it isn’t really an advantage. … You watch the tape and it’s the same thing. It’s the same offense and they’ve got good kids running it and they coach it really well. Unless coach Pete (Chris Petersen) tells us what play they are running before hand there is really no advantage.”
On which players showed improvement this season: “That’s a hard one. I think a lot of guys showed improvement. Huddy (Andrew Hudson) up front really had a solid year for us. I think the linebackers, the true freshmen (Travis Feeney, Shaq Thompson) got better and better for us, John Timu started to progress the way we needed him to. Desmond (Trufant) really started off played good, got dinged up, I think that hurt him a little bit, One guy that probably played better and didn’t get a lot of notoriety was Justin Glenn. He was a key guy for us back there. It was hard to pick one guy but there were a fair amount of guys that made progress.”
On Shaq Thompson’s move to linebacker: “If you watched his high school tape it wasn’t like he played a ton of safety. He played a little bit of defense and when he played defense he was like an outside linebacker for him, so it really wasn’t a move because he hadn’t done much of that to begin with. So Pete Sirmon did a great job with him and to be as productive as he was was impressive, not only physically but to pick up on things is a pretty big change.”
On how the defense can become more consistent: “Execute better, whether you are playing a certain coverage or certain technique, execute it better. It’s practice, it’s technique, it’s attention to detail. It’s all of the above, It’s abillity, so it’s all of those things.”
On his tenure at Boise State: “I was a grad assistant there to befin with and then left and came back a great program. They do a great job, coach Petersen is a phenomenal person and football coach and it’s the same (now as then). You look at the video, they are multiple, they give you a lot of issues. They execute really well, they only allow (a few) sacks, not many turnovers, they never beat themselves and it’s been that way for a while.”
On what Petersen taught him: “A lot of things, and they are similar personality in a lot of ways to coach Sark — just a real positive teacher and leader and very smart, detailed. A lot of things about what coaching is.”
On why it’s not an advantage now that he used to coach there: I said, ‘well we used to scrimmage them and they would run the ball up and down on us in scrimmages and I knew them just as well then.’ So how is it different (now)? It’s the same as our offense — just because we practice it every day doesn’t mean we are going to stop them. We are going to put our best game plan together and have an idea of what they do on offense, but at the end of the day it comes down to executing the calls and they are going to be ready and have gameplan stuff for the game.”
On the penalties against WSU and how to fix them: “It’s technique. Seven penalties, seven 15-yard penalties in one quarter. You can’t stop anybody doing that. It’s seven first downs, automatic first downs. So it’s technique breakdowns, maybe getting a little anxious and not playing with that calm and confidence that you had prior — those types of things. A couple of them got hands to the face, poor pad level. It’s not because we weren’t trying, it wasn’t an effort issue. It was technique and approach to the play and mentality and all of those things, and it showed up all at once, back-to-back-to-back. It was horrible.”
On the pass interference penalties: “There are going to be times throughout the season you are going to get pass interference calls when you are playing coverage. You have to know how to play through the man to the ball, and when there is a time to play the ball and when there is a time to play the hands. And those are just decisions that we’ve got to make on the fly at a pretty quick tempo and we made some poor decisions in playing the ball.”