Huskies Insider Blog

Jeff Choate talks special-teams, Andrew Hudson and big penalties

Here's what Huskies defensive line and special-teams coach Jeff Choate told reporters after Tuesday's practice.

(On the windy conditions helping the defense against ASU) “Not to throw too much of a play on words out there, but I think it was kind of a perfect storm for us, with them coming in, Taylor Kelly, first game back, the elements take away a lot of the passing game, and we really felt like we hadn’t done a very good job the week before in the run game against Oregon. And we took a lot of time and energy into making that a priority for us, and it just so happens that’s all that was available. And I thought our guys did a really good job being disciplined with their eyes, doing their job, taking care of their responsibility. Tremendous defensive effort. I think the difference in the game from our standpoint really comes down to three things – their specialists handled the elements better than we did. We had some errant snaps, balls all over the place in the punting game. It was the same conditions. Their punter and their snapper did a really good job of dealing with those elements, and I think that was one of the factors in the game. And I think we had the opportunity to swing the game on a couple of plays in the kicking game, and unfortunately, those got called back. So you’ve got to find a way to push through that and make another play, and that’s what we needed to do. Obviously we got the pick-6 from (John) Timu which was a huge play, huge momentum swing, but if we could have got one of those, got a plus-50 possession, I think that could have made a tremendous difference in the game.”

(On the defense scoring six touchdowns this season) “It’s pretty cool to see those guys. One of the things that’s most impressed me about this group is really the resilience that they have. There’s no division on our sideline. In a lot of situations like that where one side of the ball is struggling, you get guys that turn on each other and our guys haven’t done that. They’ve hung together and tried to pick each other up, and I think that’s one of the things that’s been most impressive to me, and one of the ways they’re doing that is by taking it on themselves – ‘hey, score or get the ball back. Let’s go.’”

(On trying to sack Sefo Liufau, re: his size and Colorado’s protection) “I think it’s a little bit of both. Body-type wise, he’s kind of like a Kevin Hogan who doesn’t get sacked very often, either. Part of that’s scheme, because it’s all play-action oriented stuff for them at Stanford, and part of it, he’s a really big, physical guy. You even saw when we played Stanford, we had a lot of opportunities to get Kevin, but we bounce off of him and he picks up a little scramble yardage and you see that on film with 13 (Liufau) from Colorado as well. And then the other piece of it is, they are dialed up for a lot of quick-game and scat protection where he’s going to get the ball out of his hand quickly.”

(Andrew Hudson seems to be exceeding expectations …) “It’s interesting you say that, because I didn’t go back and watch film from two years ago when we got here, but I did watch film from last year, and he wasn’t on that film, by and large. So you don’t really know what you have. I know he’s a guy who expressed on a number of occasions his desire to have a good senior year here, and the first thing that he did was have the best offseason of anyone in our program. If you ask coach (Tim) Socha who was the best guy in the offseason program, without hesitation, he says Andrew Hudson. So I think he worked himself into that position. I think he’s very much bought into what we’re trying to do and his role, and not trying to do too much and let the game come to him, and the guy plays as hard as anyone on the field. He’s got a high motor. And so he’s been awesome. It’s fun to see a young man who works that hard get rewarded with some success.”

(Is that just him being a senior and knowing this is his last chance, and also a second chance?) “I definitely think that was a part of his mindset was that he wasn’t going to be in a situation where he looked back and had regrets. So he put everything he could into making sure that he was going to have the best senior season he could have. And I don’t think his mindset was about producing and being the starter. I think his mindset was about enjoying his experience, his teammates, leaving the University of Washington and saying, ‘yeah, I look back 20 years from now and I had a good experience.’ And the byproduct of his attitude being right is that he is having that kind of production on the field.”

(On the wind affecting punting) “It was one of those nights where – usually you’ve got a prevailing wind. There was no prevailing wind. That thing whipped all night. One minute you’ve got a little bit of wind at your back and you’re feeling like, OK, we can flip the field here. The next minute it’s in your face. Some of these snaps, Korey (Durkee) had a rough night. But I’m just glad he caught some of the balls. If you look at the end zone copy of some of those, ball’s starting here and ending up over here at the last second. It’s like a hard slider. That was no fun, but they had to deal with it too. That’s not an excuse. We’ve got to simulate some of those conditions. That’s hard to do. We’ve been through it and now if it happens again it’s to our advantage because we’ve been in those elements. It’s frustrating, but they had to deal with those conditions as well.”

(On the holding penalty on the big John Ross return) “I’m not going to comment on the officiating, but obviously it’s frustrating for all of us. It’s extremely frustrating. Again, we’ve got to control the controllables. What my message to the players was, we know we’re dynamic and explosive in this phase. We just have to tighten up – if we need to be perfect, we’ve got to be perfect. That’s fine. We’ll be perfect. We know that we’ve got a guy (John Ross) that if they kick him the ball, he’ll make something happen. I actually think the (penalty) on the blocked punt, that one I think was just as impactful. That was another 20 yards of field position. And on a night like Saturday night, 20 yards is a heck of a lot of field position. And if we end up with a plus-50 possession and two first downs and the wind is right, maybe you’ve got a chance to get three (points).”

(Did you hear back from Pac-12 on those?) “We’ve turned them in and we haven’t heard what the ruling is, but I think that’s an interesting one because we need an interpretation on that, because I need to know how to coach our guys. Some of the time, the blocks in the back and the holding penalties, those are a little bit subjective. But you need to know what the rule is (on the blocked punt) so you can instruct your players as to how to handle those situations. So we’re looking forward to hearing back on that.”

(On Durkee’s response to rough game) “He’s been good. He actually had a really good practice today. We were indoors, so that helped. He responded well. That’s one of the things that Korey and all of our players have to do, is learn to push through those negative experiences and you come out the other end better if you handle it correctly. We try to be positive with them. One thing I know, not one of those kids goes out there with the intent to screw something up. We have to understand that as coaches. As frustrated as we may be, we still have to understand that they aren’t trying to go out there and make a bad play. Our job is to coach them through that, both on the emotional side, as well as the technical side.”