04/18 Scrimmage report – the defense

It was a nice day and finally felt like spring outside at Husky Stadium and it was an equally nice day for the defense for the second scrimmage of spring practices. With a pretty decent sized crowd attending the scrimmage, the defense set the tone for the day early by getting great penetration on the line, making great pursuit behind them, and making big time plays to give the high-powered Husky offense a run for their money.

The first unit for the defense consisted of Graham Lasee at REB, Manase Hopoi at HUSKY, Terry Johnson and Jerome Stevens at DT, Greg Carothers at SAM, Joe Lobendahn at MIKE, Scott White at WILL, Roc Alexander and Derrick Johnson at the corners, with Jimmy Newell and Evan Benjamin at the safeties.

Brandon Ala had the first big defensive play of the day when he muscled his way into the backfield to meet Shelton Sampson at the line and bring him down.

Ala had three tackles on the day and mostly played with the second unit at REB behind Lasee.

Owen Biddle caused the first turnover of the day. Casey Paus found Andy Heater at midfield to make a third down conversion but the undersized Biddle made an open field tackle and caused the fumble.

It was a sign of things to come for Paus was rattled by the defense all day and had pretty much had a day he would like to forget.

When they were not getting the open field tackles, the defense chased them down. Cody Pickett made a short dump pass to Chris Singleton who took it and made it past all the defenders on his way to score. Singleton saw nothing but green and an easy six but Benjamin showed good speed from his strong safety position and chased down the speedy tailback to prevent the score.

That play was huge because a couple plays later, White intercepted Pickett in the end zone to take the ball back and prevent the offense from scoring.

With Paus back behind center, it was the defense that had their way. Mike Mapu made his way past the line and knocked Paus flat on his behind to rattle him even more. When Paus did get the ball in the air, the receiver either dropped it or was too well defended to do anything.

In one case, Paus was looking for newly converted Jordan Slye down field but came up empty because Chris Massey had a good lock on him.

Isaiah Stanback did not fare much better. Stanback bumbled a snap, which gave Mapu just enough time to pounce on his prey for a sack. Mapu had a strong showing today with two tackles for losses and a sack but the only knock on him today was that he could not keep his hands off the quarterback (if that really indeed is a problem).

All three quarterbacks at one point today felt the wrath of the big JC transfer.

But the defensive star of the day was Lobendahn. On one drive in particular, Lobendahn was everywhere the ball went. Whether it was tracking down Singleton near the line or making an open tackle on Williams, Lobendahn was absolutely a terror.

"Jo-Lo" finished the day with seven tackles to lead the team, with four coming solo, and three in that one drive alone

Another player who had a good day on the D-line was Jordan Reffett. The big guy out of Moses Lake led the team with two sacks on the day. On one play, Reffett sliced his way through the offensive line like a hot knife through butter and literally ran over Stanback who hardly had any time to react.

The defensive line in particular stood out today and the one player who can tell you that from first hand experience was Paus. One of the Paus-led drives just looked like a bounty was out on Paus' head.

The defensive line showed no mercy at all as the ENTIRE first-team defensive line blew past the offensive line. The referees had to quickly blow the whistle to make sure they gave all four linemen enough time to stop and not run Paus over.

Matt Fountaine and the secondary had another good showing. A lot of passes were beautifully defended, and a lot of the times, the walk-on receivers just helped the secondary out themselves by not catching those catchable passes. Fountaine returned a kickoff for a touchdown, but also had the hard task of matching up with Reggie Williams.

Williams scored the offense's first touchdown with Fountaine guarding him tight, but there's just so much you can do legally to keep the ball out of Williams' hands.

The secondary was working on a few new things implemented by the coaching staff. By no means were they perfect today, but their play drew good reviews from co-defensive coordinator Phil Snow.

"I think we've made a lot of progress this week," said Snow. "The things that we didn't do too well today, we just put in the last couple of days so I'm encouraged and we're playing better. Are we good enough yet? No, but we're definitely getting better."

The new thing that Snow referred to was the addition of the "cover-two" scheme. In one of Williams' two touchdowns on the day, the secondary made the error of letting him get outside instead of funneling him inside like the scheme was intended to do.

"We just put it in and we'll get it corrected. The stuff that we've been two weeks, we've gotten a lot better. The coverages are a lot better than a week ago."

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