The Huskies have been good at limiting turnovers this season. Their nine giveaways is the second-fewest in the Pac-12 Conference, behind only Arizona’s eight.
A focal for Washington lately has been creating turnovers on defense, which has been a struggle. UW’s 11 takeaways is tied for the second-fewest in the Pac-12, with eight interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
“We’ve got to do a better job of forcing the ball out,” UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said. “Sometimes maybe you’re going to get them off mistakes the offense makes, but there’s gotta be more times where we’re forcing it, whether it’s a tipped ball or we’re stripping it from the offense. We’ve got to create more turnovers that way.”
Trying to create a turnover can be a fine line, though, for a defender who is also trying to make a tackle. And, yes, tackling has been a recurring issue for the Huskies.
“You work on strip tackles where you try secure it and then force the ball out (with) your second man in,” Wilcox said. “We chart all the strip attempts (in practice). … It’s been good. It was good through fall camp and for some reason in certain games or a stretch of games, it doesn’t seem to come out as much. Obviously, the bigger you play, the more aggressive you play, the more you’ve seen certain routes or certain concepts, you have a tendency to play a little faster and get a hand on the ball. And then you gotta catch ‘em and you gotta run to the ball and get it when it’s on the ground.”
Wilcox continued to rave about true freshman safety Kevin King, who seems to be better after a recent shoulder injury. He could be a factor against Colorado on Saturday if senior safety Will Shamburger is limited. Shamburger wore a yellow no-contact jersey during Tuesday morning’s practice; his injury is unknown.
True freshman cornerback Jermaine Kelly also stood out during the bye week, Wilcox said. (Kelly is still on track to redshirt.)
Steve Sarkisian on Monday had talked about trying to incorporate freshman defensive linemen JoJo Mathis and Marcus Farria more.
“Those guys are both active guys. They’re still learning a lot,” Wilcox said. “Physically, they’ve got some good tools. They’ve still got growing to do, obviously physically and mentally in terms of knowing the game. But they play hard and they’re active guys, and they can be difficult to block at times.”
Asked about Colorado’s offense, Wilcox said: “Their offensive line is totally underrated. Their quarterback (freshman Sefo Liufau) has provided them a spark. They have big, physical running backs that have broken tackles. They are playing with a lot of confidence and you see the difference in the attitude they play with.”
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