Secondary a primary focus

Talk to any player in the Husky secondary this spring and they will tell you the same thing; it's a whole new ball game this year. Coach Phil Snow has added a whole new dimension to the team, instilling a philosophy that everyone we've talked to has openly embraced.

The latest Husky to speak highly of the new ways under Snow is Derrick Johnson, who will be a fourth-year junior this season. Johnson has already had two different cornerback coaches - Chuck Heater and Bobby Hauck - so learning under a third hasn't been much of a concern.

"Spring is going pretty good," said Johnson after Friday's scrimmage. "We're learing new techniques, and it's putting us in good positions to make plays on the ball. We are just working on getting better right now."

Johnson says Snow has already helped teach some of the nuances of football that he never knew existed.

"It's exciting because I am learning things I never knew, and if (Snow) wasn't here I still wouldn't know those things."

Johnson says the emphasis this spring has been on learning the little things - reading alignment, knowing the down and distance, how to position your feet. Those, he says, are some of the things that weren't as stressed in the past.

"I love the changes because they give us better opportunities to be successful on the field," said the cover corner.

The loss of Nate Robinson to basketball and Eric Shyne to academics will leave Johnson vying for time in the cornerback rotation with Roc Alexander, Chris Massey, Sam Cunningham, and Matt Fountaine in 2003. Johnson says the unit will have to stay injury-free to make up for its lack of depth.

"It's very important because we have a lot of experience out there now," said the junior. "We need to stay healthy and put a good season together as a core group."

With Coach Snow in the fold and a group of athletes that believe in the new philosophies being taught, the future looks bright for Johnson and company.

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