UW's Locker will be badgered by Arizona's talented pass-rushers
TODD MILLES; Staff writer
Defensive ends rarely forget the ones who got away.
Running around and chasing after Washington quarterback Jake Locker is a taxing, laborious experience – something Arizona’s Ricky Elmore remembers well from last year’s 36-33 UW victory at Husky Stadium.
“Yeah, (Locker) had the huge run early on in the game,” said Elmore with a hint of disgust still lingering in his tone. “He never gives up easy sacks. He’s a guy who will stiff-arm you, and roll out on you.”
Of course, Elmore also recalls a key missing piece of the Wildcats’ pass rush was in street clothes, watching from the sideline – Brooks Reed.
The two fifth-year seniors for Arizona have spent a good portion of their careers that way. When one was healthy, the other wasn’t.
“When you’re playing without somebody, you’re trying to do the best you can to make up for someone else,” Elmore said.
This season, Elmore and Reed have stayed on the field together, and produced the results their defense needs.
“Me and Ricky are finally healthy, and we’ve perfected a few moves that seem to be working,” Reed said. “We’re cashing in on opportunities on one-on-one pass rushes.”
Elmore’s six sacks lead the Pacific-10 Conference; Reed’s 41/2 are tied for second.
As defensive-line tandems go, only Fresno State’s Logan Harvell and Chris Carter (141/2) and Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers and Andre Branch (12) have combined for more sacks this season.
“They have all the pass-rush moves – the speed rushes, the spin moves, the up-and-unders, the bull rush,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said. “It makes them a tough matchup.”
Elmore, from Simi Valley, Calif., is a prototypical defensive end. At 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, he’s long and lean. He has natural strength and an underrated burst. His first step toward the quarterback is his key in creating backfield havoc.
And when he needs insight into what an offensive lineman is thinking, or about blocking adjustments, Elmore has a personal resource – twin brother, Cory, who played on the offensive line for two seasons at Arizona.
“Me and Cory never went against each other (in blocking drills) until we got to Arizona,” Elmore said. “He told me what he didn’t like defensive ends doing to him, so that was what I did.”
Reed is a hometown hero from Sabino High in Tucson. As a prep star, he was a running back.
“Some schools recruited me as a defensive end. But when I went on recruiting trips and saw these offensive linemen, I said, ‘No way (I play defensive end).’ Plus I wanted to carry the rock (football),” Reed said. “But it ended up working out for the best switching to defense.”
Shorter and stouter (6-3, 262), Reed is more a technical pass-rusher. He gets an edge when he’s able to outwit an offensive tackle with the right move to get past the blocker.
Neither pass rusher moves around much, so from the right side, Reed will tangle with UW left tackle Senio Kelemete, and Elmore will go up against right tackle Drew Schaefer from the left end.
At the outset of preparation this week, Sarkisian declared the way the UW offensive line handles Elmore and Reed would be as big a factor in the game as any.
“Man, that’s a good compliment,” Elmore said.
Maybe it was a midweek false alarm. Locker (soreness, leg bruise) took almost all the snaps with the first-string offense Thursday at practice, and is ready to go Saturday at the 15th-ranked Wildcats.
Also set to play are offensive lineman Erik Kohler (mononucleosis) and receivers Devin Aguilar (hip pointer) and Kevin Smith (fractured hand). Smith will play with a cast on his hand.
Sarkisian said he did not see President Barack Obama on campus in person, but did watch his speech online. “He’s a tremendous speaker,” the second-year UW coach said.
Asked three questions about Wednesday’s announcementr of the new Pacific-12 Conference football alignment, Sarkisian blew off the subject. “We’ll worry about 2011 next year,” he said.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 email@example.com