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Washington defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski and defensive line coach Jeff Choate appreciate the old-school mentality Stanford will bring to Husky Stadium on Saturday. Phone-booth football, Choate called it.
There won’t be a whole lot of deception when Stanford has the ball: They’re going to run it with power and run it some more (and then try an occasional play-action, throw-over-the-top pass). This game will be decided in the trenches, and it’s a matchup UW’s defensive coaches relish.
“I don’t like what’s happened to football,” Choate said. “I love Stanford’s style. Hey, let’s go play in a phone booth and find out who the tough guys are. I respect the heck out of that.”
UW’s defensive line has certainly garnered some respect with its play in the first month of the season. Senior nose tackle Danny Shelton and senior end Hau’oli Kikaha rank 1-2 in the nation in sacks, and Stanford coach David Shaw called them both “superstars.”
“We’ve got a veteran crew in our front seven, and I expect them to go put on a show,” Choate said.
Here are some highlights from Kwiatkowski’s availability after practice Tuesday:
(Stanford offense) “They are definitely a different style than we’ve seen so far this year, so we’ve got to play with great pad level, we’ve got to be physical, leverage blocks, get off blocks — and tackle. They’re going to stick to the run game and they’re going to keep coming. We’ve got to match that physicality and intensity.”
(on Kevin Hogan) “He’s mobile, but he only does it when he has to. He’s athletic enough (that) in critical situations he’s not afraid to pull it down and run or run the zone-read.”
(on Ty Montgomery) “They’re going to find different ways to get No. 7 the ball. He’s a really good player. He’s really dynamic with the ball in his hands, so whether it’s shot plays or getting the ball to him in the screen game or on reverses, they’re going to get him the ball and get him his touches.”
(What have you learned about your front four through four games?) “They are tough, hard-working; practice great. At the end of the day, they go out and no matter what the circumstances, they just keep competing and keep battling. They’ve done a good job of worrying about what they can control and that’s how they play.”
(Is this a game that a guy like Danny Shelton is built for?) “Yeah. He’s a big-ole body that can get some knock-off on the O-line. He’s got to have a big game for us to keep those linebackers clean so they can scrape over the top of the ball.”
And here’s more from Choate:
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(Do you feel like you match up well with Stanford up front?) “I like us having a veteran group there and guys that have played well against Stanford in the past. I remember watching these guys in 2012 before we played then when I was at Washington State, we stole a lot of the ideas in terms of some of the things Justin (Wilcox) did when they beat them at CenturyLink. And last year they competed extremely well against them, too. So our guys have confidence; they understand what they’re getting in to. They have the right mindset, and it’s going to be a fun game.”
(on Danny Shelton and Hau’oli Kikaka being 1-2 in nation in sacks) “I think it’s awesome that they’ve been able to accomplish that up to this point. We probably haven’t run as many sub packages in our pass downs as we have in the past here, so that’s given guys like Danny an opportunity to do that. He does a great job of pushing the pocket. It’s a pretty good 1-2 punch when you’ve got a guy that can burn the edge like 8 and a guy that can push the pocket like 55.”
(on Stanford’s jumbo package. How do you deal with it) “We’ll have a plan for that. It may be an extra linebacker, it may be an extra defensive lineman. The goal is always to get our best 11 on the field in some way, shape or form. I think there is some familiarity with our crew.”
(as a defensive coach, how much do you appreciate Stanford’s style?) “As a football coach, I like it. I don’t like what’s happened to football. I love Stanford’s style. Hey, let’s go play in a phonebooth and find out who the tough guys are. I respect the heck out of that. They’ve found a great niche for themselves; it’s worked very well. They don’t just play to that style, they recruit to that style, and it’s been really, really effective for them. I’m excited to see us go ‘fit’ power.”
(on first half vs. Georgia State … ) “You’ve got to respect every opponent, and there’s no question that at least certain guys overlooked that opponent. So we got our mind right and came out (in the second half) and did our thing. I thought our guys were pros in the second half. They didn’t blink. They went out and took care of business. They know what they’re getting into this week. Every game from here on out is a Pac-12 championship game. And we’ve got a veteran crew in our front seven, and I expect them to go put on a show.”