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Huskies defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski talks USC, JuJu Smith-Schuster and up-tempo offenses

Spoke with Huskies defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski for a few minutes after UW’s Sunday morning practice. Here’s what he said about the Huskies’ preparations for USC.

(What are the challenges of defending USC?) “They like to start fast, play with tempo, and then they settle into their gameplan and it’s run the ball, take shots and spread it around to the wide receivers. Really balanced, and they’ve got some really good skill guys.”

(They run a lot of up-tempo?) “They mix it up, but they do that real fast tempo and they keep running plays within 10, 12, 14 seconds, and then they mix it up. But when they go fast, they go fast.”

(What are the challenges of defending that tempo?) “Just getting the call, seeing the numbers, the formation, getting lined up and then executing. When teams go tempo, it adds a stress level. Guys have got to get their eyes right from the sideline to the formation, and then we’ve got to be able to execute.”

(That makes it harder to sub, right?) “You’ve got to be careful how you sub, yeah. When they do that, they aren’t subbing, so we can’t sub for anybody.”

(Is it easier to defend up-tempo offenses now that a lot of teams do it?) “I think everybody’s a little bit more used to it, but it’s still hard, because when teams are going with that tempo, you’re stuck with who you’ve got on the field, and whether that’s base or a sub package, you’ve got to roll with those guys until they go out of bounds on their sideline or something, they sub, and then you can roll your d-linemen or give them a different personnel group. That’s the challenge, besides the fact that they’ve got to get their eyes to the sideline, they’ve got to get the call, they’ve got to find the ball, they’ve got to see the formation. There’s a lot of moving parts there, it’s happening, and they’ve got to process fast.”

(USC’s offense look similar to what you saw from UW in 2013 season opener?) “There’s a little it of that, but it’s a combination of that, and what they did in the bowl game when we played them before they went to up-tempo. There’s a lot more pro-style stuff when they’re max protecting and taking shots, and that type of stuff.”

(That give you an advantage at all?) “(We’re) teaching kids to try to be aware of their looks, but they gameplan, so they’re going to have different formations, they’re going to have different motions, they’re going to have different looks. But at the end of the day, they’re running the ball and they’re going to pick and choose their opportunities to take shots, and then get the ball into their athletes’ hands.”

(On defending Adoree Jackson) “Our guys need to be aware when he’s in the game, because when he’s in the game, he’s in the game for a reason. And he’s very dynamic with it, but at the same time, they put him in and use him as a decoy, too. They’ll set up some other things, because they know that we know he’s in the game.”

(Are USC’s receivers, particularly JuJu Smith-Schuster, the best you’ll see?) “Those receivers last week were pretty good, Cal. These guys (USC) are really good. The thing that’s impressive about Juju, is that kid, as talented as he is, when he’s not getting the ball, he’s going 100 percent. When he’s blocking, he’s going 100. That guy is a football player that happens to be very talented. And when I say football player, he does it all. And that’s – as a coach, that earns a lot of respect from me, because the guy is doing everything.”

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