Breske's spring emphasis will be teaching

IT'S NOT EXACTLY the way Mike Breske would draw it up it, but a large number of Cougar defenders are going to have a whole lot of opportunities this spring. In a wide ranging conversation, Washington State's defensive coordinator covers a lot of ground as the Cougs gear up for spring ball…

One of the central questions this spring is if Mike Breske has the cornerbacks, in terms of both starters and depth, to run his defense the way he wants to. In other words, does he have strong enough man-coverage to the point he can really turn loose on the blitz.

That question cannot be fully answered right now, said Breske. Not this spring.

"We've had, I think, 15 surgeries this offseason on defense," said Breske. "I'm anticipating only working with four (corners) this spring, so it's going to be a work in progress. Hopefully this summer everyone is going to be healthy. But there will be more evaluation this summer than spring because of the injuries, and not just at corner but at all the positions.

"Our goal isn't to find a two deep this spring, it's to teach them to play fast by the end of spring. It's going to be how good of teachers we are and how good of students they are. We'll work on the two deep in the in two a days in fall camp."

Breske declined to name the injured or the injuries, citing Mike Leach's policy of not talking about injuries.

"I'm hoping we're two deep, we have a lot of bodies out for spring... and it's also about things like who's going to be a gunner? We really don't know what our depth is going to be across the board. Everything is going to be up in the air," said Breske.

BRESKE ALSO declined to name the top performers in Midnight Maneuvers, the 2-week offseason conditioning drills the Cougs went through under Mike Leach.

"I'll talk positionally on that -- I was probably most impressed with our d-line in terms of effort and their leadership. By far, they were the best group in those terms. I didn't see any ‘loafs', I did see it from some of the DB group. I did see it from some of the linebackers. But also, I know our recruits better than our football team right now, that's the process of where we're at right now," said Breske.

He did later offer one name.

"I will tell you this, okay? Travis Long will be on the field," laughed Breske.

Long, as previously reported, could line up in as many as six positions, both d-end spots and all four linebacker positions, as WSU looks to put the opponent in a position where they never know from which angle he might be coming.

AS BENEFICIAL AS the Midnight Maneuvers are, it's not the same as seeing guys line up and take snaps, said Breske.

"On March 22 , our evaluation begins then," said Breske. "Juniors, seniors, sophomores, freshmen -- they're all equal…Most of our kids are doing what they're supposed to do, some haven't. And we'll know more after April 21, too.

"When I got here, I had an individual meeting with every defensive player, I called it their 15 Minutes of Fame, they could talk about anything they wanted. We're on a six month plan, not a 1-2-3 years plan. We're about going to a bowl game now. This isn't a long range deal. So let's get it done now. The future is now."

THERE ARE TIMES when a play is won or lost before the snap. And a correct pre-snap read doesn't mean as much if it isn't fully communicated. The Cougar linebackers in the 3-4, and primarily the inside guys, will be more involved in that regard.

"The safeties are still going to be my quarterbacks on defense," said Breske. "We've got to improve our communication skills, from the corners to safeties to the outside linebacker. That was one of the things I learned in those meetings. The difference is going to be we've got four linebackers now, having that one more person involved."

ASKED FOR THE greatest strength and weakness headed into spring drlls, Breske focused in first on effort. "The biggest strength is a want, a desire to be successful," said Breske. "The attitude has been awesome, they've been unbelievable. They're going to run through a brick wall, now we just have to teach them how to run through the brick wall. They're watching film on their own, watching cut ups on their own, it's been great.

"A weakness? I don't see one yet. Well, other than our numbers in terms of spring ball. And again, that goes back to the number of surgeries this offseason and the guys who are injured right now. So our overall health I guess would be the negative."

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