At Sunday’s scrimmage at Husky Stadium, I focused my attention on the defensive line. The giant concern of who will generate a pass rush was not clarified a great deal. There were a few sacks but nobody really stood out as a dynamic person to watch in that regard. Most of the sacks were generated by good coverage or a general collapsing of the pile.
However, the run-stopping ability was impressive, especially from the first unit defensive front of Colin Cole, Brandon Mebane, Red Bryant and Chris Clemons. Most of the decent run gains in the scrimmagge came against the second or third units. But against that first group … not much. Especially early, Bryant and Mebane had several tackles at or near the line of scrimmage. As expected, the 1,000 pounds of Bryant-Mebane-Cole should serve as a significant obstruction.
Stopping the run has several important tangent effects. 1) It sets a tone of toughness. 2) More practically, it can force an offense into tougher passing downs, and cause them to be more one-dimensional, which, in effect, should help pressure the quarterback.
“One thing we wanted to do going into this preseason is try to take away some of the (opponents’) strengths, and running is one of those,” Cole said after the scrimmage. “Adding Red Bryant out there at the 5 technique is going to give us a lot of strength out at that end. If we can stop the run, that puts our corners and safeties in great position against the pass … teams will be playing right into our hands.”
Coach Pete Carroll reminded that it’s hard to judge how well things are going when only playing against your teammates, and we’ll get a better assessment Saturday when the Titans come to town.
Still … “I really like what’s going on up front with the first defense. Those guys are playing together really nicely at this point. We’ve done some things different scheme-wise, matched some things up with different personnel, and we’re kinda liking what’s going on up there.”