Spoke for a few minutes after the Huskies’ fall camp practice this morning with defensive backs coach/co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake, who said the Huskies now have more depth in the secondary than any he’s ever coached.
Here’s everything else he said.
(On managing reps with so many defensive backs) “It’s really about making sure all these guys get reps. I told the guys last night, this is probably the deepest (group) I’ve ever coached, in terms of just how many corners, how many safeties we have, how many nickels. Now, also, college football has changed, especially in the Pac-12, everyone plays with three, four wide receivers, so we’ve really matched all those receivers with getting more DBs in here. So we play with a lot of DBs – five to six sometimes on certain downs – so we need to have depth like this. But I definitely made a difficult situation for me, because I’ve got to make sure everyone gets their reps and they’re happy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a great problem to have.”
(On progress since the end of the season) “Well, there were four guys that needed to gain weight, since the end of the bowl game, and those four guys really took it serious and they gained weight. We just had to get some more weight on their bodies, No. 1, to make sure they stay healthy, and then two, it’s going to help them be a more effective player on game day. Budda took the challenge, gained a ton of weight. So did Sidney Jones, gained about 10 pounds – going back to Budda, he gained about 20, 21 pounds – then also Jordan Miller and Kevin King. They did a really good job of watching what they consume. Emma did an unbelievable job, our nutritionist, of really being on these guys, and it’s going to pay off this year.”
(On defensive backs learning every position in the secondary) “It’s a constant fluctuation. That’s gameplan-wise stuff that we’ll do to each team. But I want these guys to know all positions. Budda can play any position in the whole secondary. Kevin King can play any position in the whole secondary. I make sure the corners, they have to know the nickel spot as well. So having all this depth, we’ve got to make sure everybody knows all the other positions as well. Now that we’re going into Year 3 of this thing, they understand the techniques, they understand the scheme now, so it’s really starting to come together.”
(On Jordan Miller staying hungry despite playing behind veteran starters) “Oh, he’s hungry. He’s hungry. He is a competitive, competitive young man. He led us in interceptions in spring. Obviously, Day 1, he’s leading us right now with the two he had today. But he is a player that plays with a chip on his shoulder, which we all love. He’s competitive. He did a great job of putting on weight over the offseason, 10, 11 pounds. And I’d expect you’re going to hear his name here for the next few weeks. he’s going to be a playmaker for us.
(On Austin Joyner’s status) “Austin’s 100 percent healthy, and there’s another guy – I’m sure he’s going to have a chip on his shoulder. We’ll see him this afternoon. … He’s 100 percent healthy, he looks great, he’s fast just like he was when we recruited him. I know he’s going to be excited to show what he’s got to his fellow teammates and his coaches.”
(How quickly did you identify in 2014 that you needed to sign so many DBs?) “As soon as I walked in the building. We looked at who we had and were like, whoa, we are woefully under-scholarshipped, under-manned. That’s why we signed seven DBs the first year. Four of them ended up playing. Then we signed another crew and some guys played last year. It was definitely a process. This is where we’d like to be, in the situation we’re in right now.”
(Is it a unique situation for so many of those signings to work out like they have?) “...Darren Gardenhire ended up playing the most snaps of anybody on the whole team last year. I call him our utility man. He can do anything for us. Big-time special teams player, obviously played really good corner for us last year. And obviously Budda and Sidney Jones have played a ton of reps around here, definitely panned out for those guys. And then yeah, we’ll see where we go from here. What we’ve got to make sure is nobody gets complacent. That’s my job as coach of these guys. And I don’t think you’ll see that. We’ve just got to keep working. Everything we did last year is not going to help us this year. We’ve got to make sure we are continually keeping that chip on our shoulder and trying to prove to everybody that we can be the best defense again.”