Washington Defensive Preview

Washington's defense has been inconsistent this season. Read on for a breakdown on who to watch and what Arizona needs to do to be successful against it.

Arizona's game against Washington on Saturday in Seattle figures to be a high scoring contest, as the Huskies are allowing 33.7 points on 431.1 yards to their opponents so far through seven games.

The strength of the UW defense has been the front seven, as it allowing 146.7 yards per game on the ground to its opponents, good for seventh in the Pac-12.

The standout along the defensive line is defensive end Everrette Thompson, a 6-foot-6, 244-pound senior. Thompson's 26 tackles are good for fifth on the team, and he's also tied for the team lead with two sacks.

Lining up alongside Thompson is defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu, who has been disruptive thus far on the interior this season. The 6-foot-3, 330-pound senior has racked up 18 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, as well as 1.5 sacks this season.

UW's other defensive tackle position has been very inconsistent thus far in the season, as Sione Potoa'e and Lawrence Lagafuaina have combined for just four tackles and one sack on the season.

The defensive end position opposite of Thompson has been a bit of a problem area as well for the Huskies on defense, as it can't seem to get any consistency from Andrew Hudson or Taila Crichton. The duo has combined for just 11 tackles, and a sack has not been recorded from that position yet this season.

The Washington version of the 4-3 is unique in that it uses three outside linebackers, one used primarily as a "rush" linebacker. Josh Shirley, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound redshirt freshman, has only recorded 11 tackles from that position, but has made plays in the opponent's backfield, recording 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.

The defense's best player is inside linebacker Cort Dennison, who with 63 tackles is the Pac-12's leading tackler. The 6-foot-1, 236-pound senior has been a force in the middle of the defense for the Huskies, and has added 4.5 tackles for loss as well as a sack on the season.

When Dennison needs a break he'll be relieved by 6-foot-1, 251-pound sophomore Thomas Tutogi, the younger brother of Arizona's Taimi Tutogi.

The outside linebackers for Washington have been steady, but not standout players this season. Of the two, Jamaal Kearse has been more dependable, as the 6-foot-2, 230-pound redshirt-freshman has recorded 18 tackles, including one for loss.

Garret Gilliand has done a little bit of everything for the Huskies; as the 6-foot, 215-pound sophomore has recorded 17 tackles, 1.5 of those coming for a loss, a sack, and an interception while appearing in all of the team's seven games.

The secondary for Washington has been a major disappointment this season, at it has allowed opposing quarterbacks to throw for 284.4 yards per game, good for 11th in the Pac-12.

While the unit as a whole has been a disappointment, Desmond Trufant has done a solid job this season locking down opposing receivers. The 6-foot, 177-pound junior ranks second in the Pac-12 with 11 passes defended and third in the conference with nine passes broken up. He also has the team lead with two interceptions, and has recorded 38 tackles and half a sack.

The other cornerback position has been a bit of a problem area for the Huskies, as it is shared by 6-foot, 200-pound Quinton Richardson and 5-foot-10, 170-pound sophomore Gregory Ducre.

Ducre has had the better season of the two thus far, as he's recorded 23 tackles, an interception, has broken up three passes and four passes defended. Richardson has been less active, picking up just 13 tackles and three passes defended and broken up.

Junior free safety Nate Fellner has missed three games due to injury, but 5-foot-11, 203-pound junior Justin Glenn has done very well in his absence. Glenn ranks third on the team with 42 tackles, two for loss, and has broken up and defended a pair of passes.

The final starter for UW is 5-foot-10, 200-pound strong safety Sean Parker. The sophomore is second on the team with 50 tackles, and also has an interception to his credit.

Keys to the game:

1. Turn Foles loose: Aside from Arizona, Washington has the worst passing defense in the Pac-12. This bodes well for UA's senior quarterback, who is the nation's top passer at this point in the season.

2. Get it to Criner: Against UCLA, Foles got it to Criner whenever he could, and in doing so, he opened up the passing lanes to get the ball to UA's other receivers. Trufant will likely match up with Criner, but that should not prevent Foles from trying to get it to his main target early and often.

3. No turnovers: This game is likely to be a shootout, and Arizona is likely going to have to score a lot of points in order to stay in the contest. UA will need to put the ball in the end zone and can ill afford to give Washington any extra chances to score.

4. Protect: Due to its ineptitude at stopping the pass, UW is likely to bring extra defenders to try to force Foles into quick throws or in completions. If the UA can keep its quarterback upright, he'll likely have one of his finest performances of the season.

5. Keep it rolling: The Arizona offense played looked innovative and confident, which is something that it has not had all season long against UCLA, and by duplicating that effort in Seattle, it gives itself the best chance its going to have at getting its first road win of the season.

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