SEATTLE – Here’s what Washington co-defensive coordinator and Eastern Washington/North Central grad Jimmy Lake had to say after practice Tuesday as the Huskies’ Pac-12-leading defense (13.7 ppg) prepares to play Oregon’s Pac-12-leading offense (45.6 ppg) on Saturday in Eugene.
Reviewing UCLA game: “As coaches, we’re always hard on ourselves and hard on our players. So it’s always like, ‘We could have done this better, we could have done that better.’ Really proud how we went down into an environment where we had not won a lot of football games down there, and I was proud of the way the guys fought. … We knew we were heading into a team that had us circled and wanted to beat us with an offensive coach that changed football as we know it. So we knew they were going to have their best stuff for us, which they did.”
On UW’s lack of a pass rush: “We’re always trying to get after the quarterback. It’s a huge emphasis in the offseason – turnovers and getting after the quarterback. It’s continual. It’s every single week, whether we’re doing to do it with the defensive line, the linebackers, with defensive backs. We’ve got to find a way to put more pressure on the quarterback. For sure, there’s been some teams we’ve played where their game plan has been to run the ball and shorten the game and keep the ball away from our offense, which is an explosive offense. In turn, you’re not going to get as many opportunities to get interceptions or get after the quarterback when they’re handing the ball off.”
On changes to Oregon’s offensive scheme with new head coach: “There’s not a huge difference. They want to run the football. That’s what they’ve been since we’ve been here – they wanted to run the football back with Coach Helfrich. They’ve been a run-first team and they’re still a run-first team.”
On Oregon QB Justin Herbert: “He’s very talented. He was talented a few years ago when we played him and we knew it. He can make all the throws. He can run. He’s obviously got great size. He’s smart. He’s definitely a talented guy – one of the more talented guys in the country.”
On energy at Autzen Stadium and whether he enjoys that environment: “Heck, yeah. Of course. We’re all competitors. Coaches are competitors, players are obviously competitors, and we wouldn’t want to be coaching on some island somewhere and there’s like two people in the stands. We want to coach in these environments, we want to coach against good competition week in and week out and that’s what the Pac-12 is. Any given week, anybody can beat anybody in this conference. So nobody should be surprised if, ‘Oh, Utah beat Stanford!’ That’s not a surprise. Anybody can beat anybody in this conference.”
On what makes rivalries special in college football: “For us, we’ve got to treat this as the next game. We’re preparing and we’re watching their film and trying to put our guys in the best position to make plays to make sure we come out on the other side with the win. All the other outside stuff is really for the fans, which is awesome and that’s why college football is awesome. … But we can’t concentrate on that. We just have to concentrate on having a good practice today, which we did, and then going to have a great meeting tonight, clean up, add and then go have another great practice tomorrow. That’s where our focus is at.”
On whether the third-down defense is still a work in progress: “No. Actually, third down is – so is first down, so is second down and fourth down. I am worried about every single down.”
On whether the players get an edge from getting everyone’s best shot: “I think so. We’ve got to continue to prepare for that for the rest of the year. We know the bull’s-eye’s on us. We know that, and the guys have to know that. We are going to get everybody’s best shot. We’re going to get their best plays, their best preparation and their guys are going to be as motivated as they’ve been all year and that’s going to be week in and week out, and that’s the way we want it.”
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.