Montana beat writer offers clues about Breske

TO FIND OUT more about new Washington State defensive coordinator Mike Breske, we went to the guy who has covered him every day at Montana for the last two years.

A low-key approach, says Fritz Neighbor, the Grizzlies beat writer for the Missoulian, isn't in Mike Breske's DNA.

But the blitz? Now that's hard wired in.

"He's an intense guy who really gets on the players during the week but always has them prepared -- with a couple new blitzes dreamed up each week to boot," said Neighbor.

"He loves the zone blitz, and for that manner any blitz -- one of the great things this season was after a few games of seeing teams not even throw to Trumaine Johnson's side of the field, he used him a lot on corner blitzes and to great effect," said Neighbor.

For what it's worth, Breske himself says his blitzing reputation is overblown. In an interview last March with the Billings Gazette he was asked to describe his philosophy, and said: "It varies from game to game. People think we blitz all the time. We don't. It's a misconception. We are multiple on defense, and I feel we have to be to take advantage of our kids' strengths. And then we try to manage that as coaches — get our kids in the right position against what we're seeing that particular week, and then hope like heck that it works out."

AS FOR THE DEFENSIVE LINE, expect WSU to show a healthy amount of odd-man fronts under Breske, who looks to scheme in ways that are out of the box, says Neighbor.

"The short answer is he mixes things up a lot, including a 3-4 look that he used against Tennessee (and won with, when he was Wyoming's DC). He was quite a change from the last DC, Kraig Paulson, who is rather by-the-book (but also had great success)," said Neighbor.

So what's the bottom line? Did the Cougars score on this hire?

"I think the Cougars got a really good man. He's usually coached the safeties as well as being defensive coordinator at all his stops...A lot of Griz fans are going to be sad to see Breske go," said Neighbor.

  • Brad Bunting, who played safety for Breske at Northern Colorado in the 1990s and later worked as graduate assistant for Breske, was quoted in The Tribune of Greeley, Colo., a year ago in a story about Breske being in the final five for the head job at NCU. "He was an excellent X's and O's guy and he really drove people to perform on the field through his intensity."

  • Breske earned a bachelor's degree at South Dakota State in 1981 (where he was an all-league defensive back) and a master's at Northern Iowa in 1982. He and his wife Tami have three children and four grandchildren.

  • Breske is an Iowa native.

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