Run prep is the challenge, says Breske

THE STRENGTH OF the Washington State defense in 2012? It'll be the linebackers, says defensive coordinator Mike Breske. The biggest challenge for the defense? That looks to come during fall camp and the practices during game week, and it has to do with the downside of practicing against the Air Raid offense.

Breske filled in Tuesday for Mike Leach on a Pac-12 conference call. Breske said going against an offense that throws it 70-75 percent of the time doesn't help much in preparing to stop a running attack.

"I think the biggest challenge defensively is manufacturing the run sets," said Breske. "In terms of the running game, we're obviously not going to see the spread week in and week out. This spring we started manufacturing a run offense, we'll just continue that this fall in two-a-days with our scout team.

"But the two-back scenarios, the heavy sets, two tight ends, power football, split zone – those types of running plays we're obviously not going to see from our offense... But in the passing game, we get all the practice we need."

WSU IS YOUNG and inexperienced at linebacker, save for BUCK Travis Long, a senior. But the Cougs will run a 3-4 and while a defense is always going to try and funnel an offense towards its linebackers, it's even more a necessity in the 3-4 -- for starters, because of how the numbers are situated in the tackle box.

"Our linebacking corps is going to be the strength of our defense," said Breske. "…Eric Oertel, a junior for us, really had an outstanding spring at the SAM linebacker position. Again, going in wide eyed as a defensive staff, (he was) very consistent from day to day the way he practiced, the way he was productive. (Sophomore) Chester Sua, a WIL linebacker..a very athletic linebacker, got a lot out of him. Great surprise and again, we're young at the linebacker position and these are the guys that are going to have to play for us and they're athletic.

"On that note, (R-Fr.) Darryl Monroe… nursing a hamstring but we got some limited reps out of him this spring and we got a fairly good idea defensively of what he can do. So those three, along with the senior Travis Long at the BUCK position, (he was) very productive."

SPRING BALL WAS a learning process for both players and coaches, said Breske. Going up against the Air Raid also took some getting used to.

"Speaking for my first go-around with Coach Leach going through spring ball, it was a little unusual with 70-75 percent of the balls being in the air from a defensive perspective… I think what we got to practice 15, I think we accomplished a lot of things we were looking for going into spring," he said.

Breske also said he doesn't envy the opposing defenses this season.

"I think they better have lights, because the ball's going to be in the air and we're going to be explosive on offense. We're going to be aggressive on defense, and also on special teams. I think it will be a different brand of Washington State football… a ball in the air type mentality, an explosive offense and hopefully an explosive defense," said Breske.

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