5 Minutes with Kalani Sitake

the defensive coordinator talks about his unit's struggles during the first scrimmage....

Tough day for the offense. What happened out there?

Too many missed assignments, just the fundamentals of football. We started out well and had a lot of pressure on the quarterback and did some good things at the beginning of the scrimmage. Had too many guys making mistakes. We have three weeks to correct it. We'll get better. I feel comfortable with our group, comfortable with their athleticism and speed. Just have to do a better job of coaching them. When one guy makes a mistake with 11 out there, Jordan Wynn and Terrance Cain will make you pay.

It seemed like a lot of the problems were in the back seven with tackling and missed assignments. Can you attribute that to inexperience?

Inexperience is not an excuse. These guys are grown men. We've just got to play ball. We're going against a good offense. The mistakes, they weren't that crazy. One guy out of eleven not doing their job and when that happens, this offense will make you pay. Aaron and Dave are doing a great job coordinating the offense. We've got to apply more pressure and do more things. We'll get better in the back end, we'll be fine.

A week into camp, who is standing out so far?

How much time to do you have? There are a lot of guys doing good things, but we also have guys that need to improve some stuff. Even guys that have been here for awhile like Sealver and Kruger, they have a lot of things they can work on too so we're just trying to make everyone better. We're only as good as our weakest link so we're trying to get all of our guys on defense better and put the best 11 on the field. This scrimmage is going to help us decide who our best 11 are and who the best guys in the backfield will be.

You have a true freshman in Brian Blechen at strong safety. It's not uncommon for a true freshman to come in and play here a little bit. Talk a little bit about Blechen and the impact he's made.

He's been really impressive, he knows football really well. He played quarterback in high school and also safety. He's just a tough kid that hits. I've just really been impressed with him and his knowledge of the game. We just decided to play the best guys and he is standing out and I think he'll be a good player. He made some mistakes today, but that's why we scrimmage; put him out there and put him in a game type situation so he doesn't do that against Pittsburgh. I feel confident in him and in his coach, Coach Scalley, and I'm confident in the other safeties too. We have a good group, but it's not set. He's got to battle it out and win that spot.

You've got a guy like Brandon Burton at one corner. What does having a guy like that do for your defense. How much does that open up things for other guys?

We've had some good corners here. Sean Smith and Brice McCain both in the NFL. RJ. Stanford got drafted too. Brandon Burton is a good one too. We have a lot of good corners. It's comforting for a DC like me to have a guy that can lock down man to man. I'm going to lean on him heavily in the back end. I feel comfortable with Lamar Chapman, Conroy Black, Kamaron Yancy, Reggie Topps, we have a good group.

You guys seem to have a lot of defensive ends rotating in and out. Who are the guys that look to be ahead of the rest right now?

Christian Cox, Junior Tui'one, Derrick Shelby- coming off of that knee from last year. Trvor Reilly and Joe Kruger, those are the five guys right now. We'd like to use 4 or 5, depending on the situation in the game, who's the best pass rusher, who's the best run stopper, stuff like that, gives us a lot of flexibility.

Where does James Aiono look to fit? D-tackle or Defensive end?

We used him at both. Today we used him a little more at D-tackle. That's the good thing about him, he can play both. We have a lot of guys that can do that in Derrick Shelby, Junior Tui'one, they can play inside and out and now with Aiono it gives us a lot of flexibility.

How does Latu Heimuli look so far?

Really good. Really good. If we just keep him healthy he's going to be a special player.We're looking for him to do some things for us and just trying to pace it so we can keep him healthy and count on him in the game.

What are the goals between now and the Pitt game in three weeks?

Our goal is to be better for tomorrow. We're not really focused on Pitt. We're just focused on getting our base defense in. We have about 90% of our install in, if we can get the rest in, just fine tuning it, sharpening it up, I think the next scrimmage we'll show a little bit better.

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