Huskies defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake met with reporters for a little while this afternoon, covering a range of topics -- yes, Budda Baker was one of them -- as UW prepares for its Saturday opener at Hawaii.
(What are you like on game day?) “If you’ve done the preparation correctly, you’re still going to have those butterflies. You’re just more excited and ready to go. We’ve done so much preparing all the way back from January on, we knew who we were playing opening day, so we’ve done so much preparation for this game against Hawaii. It’s going to be very nice to watch these guys roll out there and play.”
(On being excited to watch Budda Baker and young DBs) “No question. Even some of these other guys. We knew they were talented players and we also saw currently what we had on the roster, and we knew four to five of these guys were going to end up playing. So right now, obviously you see Budda is a starter, some of these other guys, they’re going to be in there playing too. They may not start the game, but they may be in there the third series. So it’s going to be fun to watch all these young guys fly around.”
(What stood out most about Budda Baker?) “I think I said this last week. We try to measure their effort. They have to go four (to six) seconds from point A to point B every single play they’re in there, and he did that, a million miles an hour. If he was making a mistake, he was flying around and he was making it as hard as he could. Or if he was making the right play, he was flying around, too. Just his effort, and also picking up the defenses as we were installing them was very, very impressive. His attention to detail. Now we still have to go prove this on game day. Just because you’re penciled in as a starter … no one’s done anything in our secondary except for one person. And so we have a lot to prove on the back end.”
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(What makes Baker more ideal at safety than at corner?) “His toughness. Very, very tough. He’s the type of guy that you have to slow down during practice. ‘Hey, this is thud tempo, not live.’ He wants to fly around and hit people. He’s very instinctive and there’s a lot of guys over the years of football that you could say were undersized but they’re extremely tough. I think we have one of the best undersized safeties in the world right down the street in Earl Thomas. Everyone said he was undersized coming out of Texas. You see how fast he plays, how tough he plays, how instinctive he is and how much he studies the game, and that sets him apart.”
(Unfair to compare him to a Thomas type player? He obviously hasn’t played yet) “Yeah. Exactly. I wouldn’t compare him to anybody right now. He still has not played a college football game. We want to start making comparisons after game 10, game 11, after we’ve done some things … I wouldn’t even make that comparison after game one. These guys have got to understand – one game, and all right, we’re on to the next game. Win, lose, whatever, let’s go, we move on to the next game. That’s the stories for you guys to right, but we’re not going to compare him to any great player like Earl Thomas.”
(Budda Baker’s attitude rubbing off?) “It’s so early. We’re still in training camp and now we’re into game week mode, we still haven’t played a game yet. So I think that’ll start to rub off as we get into game time, and we’ll see how that transitions into a game. I think that effect of a young guy on a team is going to be when he starts making plays on game day. And obviously we haven’t played a game yet, so I don’t think you’re going to see that effect happen.”
(Marcus Peters and leadership?) “I’ve been very, very impressed with him. He’s come into work every day. New information thrown at him, new plays, new techniques, new ways of doing things and he’s grasped onto them, and it’s going to help him become a better football player. I really love that he’s been open-minded. He’s come to work every single day, and now it’s just about that grind of day in, day out, day in, day out of bringing that same energy and that same focus.”
(Pleasing to force so many turnovers in camp?) “It is. That’s our job. Our job is to score or get the ball back. We’re trying to score on defense. If we can’t score, we’re trying to secure the ball for our offense. We may have different calls, be ready for different situations, first down, second down, third down, but our guys know what our job is when we take the field is to get the ball back for our offense.”
(Who had most interceptions in camp?) “In our room, Brandon Beaver won the best hands in the room. We have a little award that goes in training camp, and he had the most interceptions. It was a tight race.”
(What did Brian Clay do to earn a scholarship?) “He brought his lunch pail to work every single day and he was ready to work and ready to grind. He’s a great reserve safety for us right now. Knows both safety spots. Also knows corner, played a lot of corner in spring. And is just going to be a huge special-teams asset for us. And a guy that comes to work every day like that, we have to respect, and he’s going to do so many things for us this year, it was just a well-deserved scholarship.”
(Anything extra on long trip with young guys?) “No question. There’s a ton of things. A lot more tests given out, a lot more pop quizzes, make sure these guys are on the details of the defense. Walk-throughs before practice, walk-throughs after practice. Really got to spend a lot more time with these guys to make sure they’re really on the details of the defense and what their techniques are and what we’re calling for them in the scheme. As we move forward and we get on that plane, they’re going to expect to see a quiz there right in front of them, don’t take a nap just yet, don’t eat your lunch. They’re going to be tested all the way through until game time.”
(Will any freshmen DBs travel who aren’t on the depth chart?) “Just the guys on the two-deep right there. Those are the guys that will travel and most likely play.”
(What have you seen from Naijiel Hale so far?) “The same things we saw in high school – he was a very ferocious player, very, very tough, very instinctive, and he’s really brought that the first couple weeks of training camp and moving into game week. As a coach, you just always have to respect those guys that are tough football players. Naijiel is one of those guys. It’s just on him to really learn his role in this defense and what ne needs to do to excel as a corner. As soon as he gets that figured out, combined with that ferociousness, we’re going to have something special.”