Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox after Tuesday’s practice:
(on Cal) You see a lot of deceptives. They’re going to throw the ball down the field, they’re going to throw it quick. The tempo is extremely fast. It’s all that.
(on playing a lot of base defense) You’re talking about base vs. nickel? Our goal is to get our best people on the field. And there’s times we’ve played nickel a lot more and there’s times we’ve played base a lot more, and there’s reasons for that. The reasons are maybe the run game out of four wide, maybe it’s the pass concepts out of four wides. So all that is taken into account when we put in the game plan. There’s also times when we feel like our base personnel grouping gives us the best chance to win. Sometimes it’s nickel. There’s also the fact that our outside linebackers are Shaq Thompson and Travis (Feeney) — they probably run as fast as any of our safeties.
(How did the guys respond today after taking Monday off?) I thought they responded good. They came out and worked. It’s obviously disappointing. We had meetings all yesterday, and they came out with good energy.
(You said that you’d been practicing well the past couple week. What do you want to see this week that maybe you haven’t been the last couple weeks?) The application in the game. Obviously, when you play good teams, the margin for error is very small. We’ve got to finish better. We have to be able to tackle better. We’ve got to cover better. We’ve got to win some one-on-ones, whether it’s in the pass rush or the open field.
(How do you go about that?) Practice. Evaluate where we’re putting the stresses on the defense, who we’re putting the stresses on. Are those situations where we feel like are best? Every defense is going to have a stress point; you can try and change it throughout the game to put it on certain people. When the offense runs a play that tests that stress, we gotta be able to win some of those.
(More living tackling in practice?) Yeah, we did some live tackling today. We did some last Tuesday. So we’ll continue to work on tackling.
(20 missed tackles vs. ASU. How disappointing is that at this point in the season?) We need to reevaluate everything we do, starting with me, on what we’re doing, from the schematics of it on down to how we’re teaching the schemes and the fundamentals. But at the end of the day, we have to get guys on the ground. Tackling (is) as important a fundamental as there is in football. No matter what you do, you gotta finish.
(on message to frustrated fans, because this has not been fun) It’s not fun for us. We love our fans. They’re as good a fan base as there is out there. We’re fighting like hell, and we’re going to continue to do that because that’s what we’re about. Nobody in our program feels good or is OK with what happened. We’re going to continue to work and continue to fight until we play better and better. One of the things about playing football is, you have to learn from what you did wrong; you cannot dwell on it. Because it affects what you do today. We don’t ever forget what happened, but we’ve gotta continue to build and grow. Because if you sit around and feel sorry for yourself or woe is me or start pointing fingers, it’s all bad. We love our fans and we want to play as good as we possibly can for them, for the university, for the team and for our kids individually.
(What’s the one thing that needs to improve on defense?) Tackling. Tackling.
(on overall depth) You have to play a lot of people, and we’re going to have to do it again this week. The teams are going to run 90, 100 plays a game; I would love to play 11 guys, too, but that’s not reality. We gotta play a lot of people. So we’re going to continue to roll guys and try to put them in the best situation for them, and ask them to do things they can do and continue to develop them at every position.
(on young depth … who has stood out?) Kevin Kevin was going to earn more and more reps; we’ll see how he does this week (with an apparent arm injury). The linebackers, we’ll continue to roll guys. The pace of the game will dictate how much we have to sub. Some games like that one (against ASU), we’ll have to sub more.
(on pass rush) We gotta continue to improve our pass rush. When we’re bringing five or more guys, we’ve gotta affect the quarterback. When we’re bringing four, we gotta do a great job of trying to affect the quarterback and keeping a good cage. And when he does break, we’ve gotta chase him down and go get him. The mobile quarterbacks, they can run. So it’s a culmination of all those things. When you start pressuring the team to help cage the quarterback, you’re stressing certain guys in coverage; when you’re maybe rushing four guys, now you’re putting the onus on the D-line to do a good job of keeping the cage and affect the quarterback and run him down if you’re doing a good job in coverage down the field. So you’re picking and choosing your times of when to do which; it’s based on game plan (and) it’s based on matchups.