Huskies defensive line coach and special-teams coordinator Jeff Choate spoke with reporters earlier today to preview Washington's game Saturday against Stanford, an old-school team whose style Choate appreciates. Here's what he had to say.
(On Stanford) “They’ve got a veteran quarterback and they’ve got talented skill players. It’s kind of one of those deals where they’re going to just insert another big body on the offensive line and do what they do. A little bit more 11-personnel, perhaps, than what we’ve seen, but I think that’s all just oriented around what happens during the course of the game. If they feel like they’re moving guys off the ball, they’re going to stay with the big personnel groups, and you’ve got to stop the run, first and foremost. If you can stop power, stop their gap schemes, force them into third-and-uncomfortable situations, that’s what we’ve got to do. So it starts with us having the right mindset all week, understand it’s going to be a physical game, very different than perhaps some of the other teams we’ve played up to this point. For our defensive line guys, they’re excited, they’re excited about the challenge. This is their kind of game, let’s go play in a phone booth and see what happens.”
(How do you think your defensive front matches up with them?) “I like us having a veteran group there and guys that have played well against Stanford in the past. I remember watching these guys in 2012 before we played them when I was at Washington State. We stole a lot of the ideas in terms of some of the things Justin (Wilcox) did when they beat them at CenturyLink in ’12. And last year these guys competed extremely well against them too. So I think these guys have confidence they go out there, they understand what they’re getting into, they’re going to have the right mindset and it’s going to be a fun game.”
(On Danny Shelton and Hau’oli Kikaha leading nation in sacks) “It’s awesome they’ve been able to accomplish that up to this point. We probably haven’t run as many sub packages on our pass downs as we have in the past here, so I think that’s given guys like Danny an opportunity to do that. He does a great job of pushing the pocket, and it’s a pretty good 1-2 punch when you’ve got a guy who can burn the edge like (number) 8 (Kikaha) and a guy who can push the pocket like (number) 55 (Shelton).”
(On Stanford’s jumbo packages) “We’ll have a plan for that. And maybe an extra linebacker or an extra defensive lineman. The goal is always to get our best 11 on the field in some way, shape or form. I think there is some familiarity with this crew, with our guys. I had an opportunity to compete against these guys in 2012 when I was in the pac-12 as well, and it’s not a lot different. It’s the same dudes doing the same stuff. Might just be a guy here or there. They’ve got excellent skill talent, they’ve got kind of a bevy of running backs they roll in and out, Hogan’s a veteran quarterback. They do what they do on the o-line, and they’re good at it. So it’s a great challenge. I’m glad we’ve got them at home and it should be a great environment on Saturday."
(Do you have an appreciation for Stanford’s style?) “As a football coach I like it. I don’t like what’s happened to football. I love Stanford’s style. I love, hey, let’s go play in a phone booth, let’s find out who the tough guys are. So I respect the heck out of that. They’ve found a great niche for themselves there. It’s worked very well. They don’t just play to that style, they recruit to that style, and I think it’s been really, really effective for them. I’m excited to see us go fit power.”
(Special teams question: Dante Pettis and his returns? What made them work?) “He got opportunities. A lot of times in college football it’s hard to get returns just because you see so many different styles of punters. And this guy was a good directional punter, we knew that going in, and it gave him a couple chances, and we did a nice job at the line of scrimmage. If you win at the line in that phase, that’s where the explosive returns come. They don’t come by guys fitting guys up downfield, it’s by guys creating the cushion at the line of scrimmage that develops as the play progresses. I think our guys on the hold-ups did a great job giving him room, he did a good job making decisions, putting his foot in the ground, getting vertical and the seams were there. Got tackled a couple times and I’m sure he would have liked to get in the end zone. There’s no question that made a huge difference in the game.”
(Do you agree with Chris Petersen in his disdain for college punting rules?) “We’re part of the problem because I’ve been doing this since 1999 at Utah State with the rugby punt and multiple formations. It’s one of those deals where he doesn’t like it, but as long as they’re going to let us do it, we’ll keep doing it. I think it definitely does take one of the more exciting facets of the game out of it a little bit. That’s up to the rules committee to decide. But as long as they have the rules they are, we’re going to take advantage of them, and so are a lot of other teams in the country.”