Nick Holt isn't the sit-in-a-rocking-chair and ponder the future calmly type of defensive coordinator, but it's becoming more apparent that the Washington Huskies' defensive boss is more at ease with what he's seeing with his unit.
Yes, it was against lowly Washington State – and at times, its fourth-string quarterback - but the Huskies easily had their best outing in a 30-0 victory in the 102nd Apple Cup in Seattle.
And it wasn't just the shutout talking.
It was the soundness in which they executed the game plan.
"They're feeling really comfortable with the scheme, so they're playing faster, and making less mistakes," Holt said. "You should feel better the more you do it."
This is 2009, and it's almost over.
What about the future?
Holt addressed a couple vital issues:
• Who gets to take on the Daniel Te'o-Nesheim "hybrid" role on the defensive line next season, playing both outside and inside?
Sophomore Everrette Thompson appears to be that guy.
"I'm hoping somebody will rise up," Holt said. "With Everrette's body size and his body profile, he's the logical choice. Now he needs to have a great offseason and work at it."
• Is there a legitimate heir apparent to middle linebacker Donald Butler, who could be a Pacific-10 Conference defensive MVP candidate?
"Well, not at the moment," Holt said. "Tim Tucker, he's the main candidate at that linebacker spot. Hopefully you can get E.J. (Savannah) back. We're not counting on that, but that may be a fantastic piece of the puzzle."
If Savannah is granted a sixth year by the NCAA, it would greatly stabilize the linebacking corps. He and Mason Foster would likely occupy the outside spots, with Cort Dennison, or event Tucker, moving inside.
Holt also admitted that a few true freshmen from the 2010 recruiting class will have to see playing time next season, dictated by the lack of depth.
Other things from Tuesday:
• UW defensive tackle Cameron Elisara (neck stinger) came out of the WSU game feeling fine. He practiced Monday. But on Tuesday, the lingering ailment struck again – enough where the junior sat out of practice.
"It was bothering him. He couldn't get out of individual (drills)," Holt said. "I think he's going to be OK."
• Center Ryan Tolar again missed practice. Coach Steve Sarkisian noted afterward that the junior was ill, and his absence was not headache-related, such was the case Monday.
• Safety Victor Aiweya (head) and running back Chris Polk (shoulder) wore the non-contact red jerseys Tuesday, but were full practice participants.
• Dennison (right shoulder) had a bag of ice over his shoulder after suffering what appeared to be a stinger at the end of practice.
• It was easily the chilliest practice of the year at Husky Stadium on Tuesday – 42 degrees and clear.