6 questions for WSU d-coordinator Chris Ball

THERE'S A REASON Washington State defensive coordinator and assistant head coach Chris Ball has a reputation as a major league recruiter. He's personable and gregarious, yet frank and professional, and all at the same time. CF.C found that out first hand in a wide-ranging interview the other day.

Ball is in his third stint at WSU, coming in with Paul Wulff in 2008. In his two previous turns in crimson he was the Cougars' defensive backs coach from 2000-02 and a graduate assistant on Mike Price's first staff in 1989. In between it all he's coached at Pitt, Alabama, Idaho State, Akron and more.

In other words, he has perspective, which we recently tapped into.

CF.C: How do you compare where the Cougar defense is right now, with where you were at this time last spring?

Chris Ball: Quite a ways forward from that -- I feel much better than I did this time last year. Guys understand the defense, we have some depth, you're not having to coach running off the field and, all the little things. It reminds me of 2000, the 4-7 season, when the players were taking care of the little things. When you get where you can now concentrate on coaching 'ball, and not worrying about the little things because the players are taking care of that for you. It means you're making some strides.

CF.C: On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rate the overall defensive depth at this stage of spring ball?

Ball: If we had (injured defensive linemen) Travis Long, Jordan Pu'u-Robinson and Brandon Rankin, I'd feel really, really good about it, like a 7-8. But it's much better than it has been. We still have a few spots where we could be better, where we could be a little deeper -- like the d-line. But we have some juco d-linemen coming in the summer, which will be nice, and three high school guys too who are pretty dang good players.

CF.C: If you had to pick just one player in the history of Cougar football to build a defense around, who would it be and why?

Ball: Oh come on, you're going to make me pick only one? Forget it. Can I pick more than one? (long pause) Well I have to mention Marcus Trufant, he just knew he was going to have it locked up out there -- which allows you to do a lot of things. Erik Coleman -- Coleman because he could get you lined up right, make the right checks. Your safety has to be your QB on defense and if it's not right (pre-snap), he's got to make you right. Guys like Billy Newman, Lamont Thompson, I could go on and on -- they were all great, great players to have. And over on offense you've got Jason Gesser.

CF.C: What are the differences or changes new assistants Chris Tormey and Todd Howard bring to the defensive staff?

Chris Ball: Experience. Usually you like to go out and visit other schools (for coaching ideas) in the spring but we didn't do that. They brought some things with them, little things you can throw in your package, things they like and have used.

CF.C: Without giving away state secrets, what differences should fans expect to see this year on defense.

Ball: More speed. A lot more speed.

CF.C: What's something people should know about Paul Wulff.

Ball: Well, he has a plan. And I know some people don't believe that. But he has it, and he's sticking to it. It's a great plan. And it's going to work.

STAY TUNED LATER THIS WEEK AS CF.C WILL HAVE MORE STORIES STEMMING FROM OUR VISIT WITH COACH BALL. THOSE STORIES WILL TOUCH ON THE POWER OF MESSAGE BOARDS IN RECRUITING; EXAMINING A 4-3 COVER 4 DEFENSE VS. A 3-4 WITH NICKEL-TYPE PACKAGES; AND MORE.

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