Editor's note: The Everett Herald's Scott Johnson was at practice Wednesday, and filed quotes and injury updates.
Maybe it's because Nick Holt monitored Southern California's defense for six years. Or because lowly Idaho put up 412 yards on the Huskies last week.
Or maybe it's a realization Holt has come to in the 10 weeks he's evaluated the UW defense on the field.
"I think we’re getting better," Holt said. "I think there are some deficiencies there with personnel. But we’ll make do."
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Holt has always been a high-effort boss. That has been step No. 1, and so far, the Huskies have passed the test.
For the most part, Holt said he's been pleased with the pass rush, especially considering he's run in a lot of young guys, including Talia Crichton, Kalani Aldrich and Andru Pulu, in the absence of Darrion Jones.
"At times, I thought (quarterback pressure) was really good. We got three sacks. And we missed a couple sacks against LSU. In fact, the one for a safety, they said it should have been a safety. So there’s another sack. We have four right now in two games, probably should have six," Holt said. "Our numbers right now, compared to what it’s been around here, they’re going to move up."
What stands to improve is the coverage by the three experienced linebackers – seniors Donald Butler and E.J. Savannah, and junior Mason Foster.
Savannah had his difficulty keeping track of Idaho receiver Max Komar on a few occasions Saturday, and Butler was no match for the Vandals' tight ends. Foster did have a key second-half interception and pass defense, and consistently shows to be the most aware where the ball is.
Practice notes:• Jones (knee, ankle) returned to practice for the first time since suffering his injuries in the first quarter against LSU, and could play Saturday. Also, offensive guard Gregory Christine (fatigue, ankle soreness) returned to practice.
Defensive tackle De'Shon Matthews (bruised knee) has been ruled out for USC.
Coach Steve Sarkisian said he'd also like to get safety Nate Williams (general soreness) some rest.
• Just when placekicker Erik Folk starts getting on a roll, something else creeps up. This time, it's the lack of depth on his kickoffs.
His 52.9-yard kickoff average is almost seven yards shorter than the rest of the conference. Some of that is skewed by the pooch kicks the Huskies used against LSU. And some of it is Folk's leg strength.
Sarkisian was pragmatic explaining it.
"In a perfect world I'd like to kick it out of the end zone every time," Sarkisian said. "It's like having a pitcher that's either pitching 88 (mph) or 95, and our guy is at 88 (mph). We have to paint the black."
• Cornerback Quinton Richardson was not made available to the media Wednesday after reportedly saying after the win against Idaho, the UW would beat USC, too (an anti-Sark comment, to say the least).