Defensive coordinators can look – and sometimes behave – like regular people.
But they’re not.
And some of the good ones – take Washington’s Nick Holt and Nebraska’s Carl Pelini, for example – have the kind of rip-roaring appearances fit for a remake of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”
When it comes to mad-dog intensity, the action is bound to get a little crazy Saturday when eighth-ranked Nebraska plays at UW in a nationally-televised, nonconference game at Husky Stadium.
“They are a really, really good football team,” UW quarterback Jake Locker said of Nebraska. “(They’re) disciplined, well-coached, fast and (they) try to capitalize on your mistakes. So it will be important that we try to minimize our mistakes and play as fast and physical as they do.”
As for these two defensive coordinators, study their expressions – look into their steely eyes – and it’s a guarantee you’ll shudder.
Glance at a mug shot of Holt, past or present. During his days as coach at Idaho he had dark, wavy hair. He looked like a young and stylish Lou Ferrigno.
These days, Holt – who turns 48 next month – has changed. He shaves his head, which lends definition in his facial features, including his scowl and goatee. Think “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
“The last thing you want as a defensive coordinator is to be the squeaky-clean nice guy,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said. “I don’t know how well that comes across.”
Pelini – as well as younger brother, Bo, who is the Nebraska head coach – keeps his hair short. He, too, can make faces as though he’s about to erupt.
“There’s a reason they have that look,” Huskies linebacker Cort Dennison said. “It’s because they’re kind of crazy.”
As much as Holt and his staff – and Carl Pelini and his guys – draw up aggressive schemes, they preach more about working hard, playing fired up and playing together.
Players who linger outside those parameters get a refresher course in enthusiasm.
“On defense, you’ve got a job to do. You can’t breeze your way through things. You have to keep your nose to the (grindstone),” said Jared Crick, a starting defensive tackle for the Cornhuskers.
“With Carl and Bo, you see the fire and the anger in them a lot of the time. You can tell right away they’re defensive-minded coaches. There is no BS allowed. Yeah, they’re definitely intimidating.”
Nate Williams, the No. 1 strong safety for the Huskies, said those who lurk on the fringe of the program should have an idea what it is like to be around Holt daily.
“You guys know the gist of Coach Holt,” Williams told reporters. “But you only see a little bit. He definitely lives up and surpasses everything you guys think and can imagine.”
Holt is a grinder. He’s demanding. He’s outspoken. And if players fall out of line, they’ll feel his wrath.
Still, players from both camps note that as pugnacious their defensive coordinators can be, they also – on occasion – show a light side.
“He has that really intense side, but at the same time, he can also crack a joke, and have everyone in the meetings laughing,” Williams said of Holt.
The Huskies have added Eastern Washington to their schedule in 2014. The Eagles will make their first visit to Husky Stadium next year. … Running back Chris Polk (extra rest) sat out individual drills Wednesday, but did participate in scout-team work for the first time this week. “He’s a little sore,” Sarkisian said. “Twenty carries (against Syracuse), man, it’s a pounding.” … Tailback Johri Fogerson (upper leg) is again doubtful to play against Nebraska. … Linebacker Victor Burnett (concussion) did not practice.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442