CoordinatorSpeak - Wilcox and Kiesau

SEATTLE - It's been a brand-new spring for both Justin Wilcox and Eric Kiesau. Wilcox was hired as Washington's Defensive Coordinator just four days after their Alamo Bowl loss, while Kiesau became the last piece to Steve Sarkisian's coaching puzzle. caught up with both coordinators after Washington's Spring Game to get their thoughts on the progress made with their units, their adjustments to life in purple and gold, and what needs to take place next for the offense and defense to get ready for a tough 2012.

Defensive Coordinator Justin Wilcox:
On Spring - "They've done a great job working. It's a tribute to them and what's been instilled in them. But in terms of meetings and practice - those guys have been tuned in and working really well. We've got a long way to go, but we feel like we're in the right places right now in terms of where we need to get to. Now it's about them honing their bodies and taking care of their schoolwork and getting into summer workouts and carrying that through 'til fall."

On Danny Shelton - "Danny has had a great spring. Tosh and Johnny have done a great job with him and he's becoming more and more consistent. I don't think he's near where he can be, and I think he'd tell you the same thing. He's got some real talents. He's a good kid; he wants to do right and we're excited about where he's going."

On Nate Fellner - "I thought he did a nice job. Moving down, he didn't miss a beat - and to be honest there was a lot of carryover from playing a down safety position, which he did a lot. I thought he did a great job. Pete Sirmon met with him and got him lined up and he's got a good feel for the game. We're excited about Nate playing at that position."

On Josh Shirley - "I think it's similar to Danny in terms of being more consistent on every down to the point where people have to deal with him on every down. And he flashed it at times, no doubt - and he flashed it this spring. He's come a long way, even since the first day of spring, of becoming more and more consistent to where it's every down they have to deal with him. And that's the type of guy he needs to be for us."

On the secondary playing well - "I think we've got some veteran guys that have played a lot of football back there when you start talking about Desmond and Sean Parker and Greg Ducre…there's a couple of young guys that we're going to get in the mix that we're excited about. Obviously Nate moving down from that spot - those guys have a lot of snaps under their belts, and it shows, especially when you're installing a new defense because similar concepts or things they've done before - they pick it up a little bit faster. I'm excited about that group. They've done a nice job working and competing this spring - and that's most exciting."

On cleaning things up - "It's going to always come back to fundamentals and making sure we're doing the right things in terms of pad level, striking blocks, covering people - so that's always going to take precedent. But also cleaning up our leverages on coverage or tackling or whatever it is…making sure everything is really crisp. Because that's what it's going to take for us to become a really good football team and that's what it's going to take for them going through summer training their bodies and when they do their own stuff in summer 7-on-7 that they are working on the right things."

On the DB's taking away the top two pass options - "I wouldn't read much into it…again, the offense was pretty vanilla, we were pretty vanilla, and that's what you do in some of these spring games. But you still want to go out and execute at a high level. I'm not sure we did that all the time; I'm sure the offense felt like they left some plays on the field. I thought we did a good job at times of matching the people up in our routes on some of our zone coverages - so that's exciting. But I'd have to watch the tape to give you a thorough evaluation, and I'm sure there will be plenty to clean up once we watch the tape."

On his goals during the month - "The first thing was, we really wanted to develop our brand - just generally speaking who we are, not only schematically and a new defense, but what we're about…when people turn on the TV, what do they say about that team on the field, what do they say about the Husky defense? We wanted to improve our tackling. That's any defense, whether NFL, high school, college - you have to be a good tackling defense. You can cover people and you can fit the runs - but if you can't get 'em on the ground it doesn't matter. So we wanted to improve our tackling. And the third thing was to play mentally quick. And that comes with a little bit of repetition, a little bit of confidence…that's kind of a bigger picture thing, but be able to line up, play fast, and let your ability take over so that you're not having to think through every coaching point - it's just something that's automatic, and that's when your ability tends to shine."

On how did the defense do with those goals in mind? - "I thought we made tremendous progress; I still think we have a long way to go. It's coach-speak, but it's the truth. I thought our effort and toughness is continuing to develop; it slipped up at times during a couple of those weeks. The tackling is improved, but not close to where we need it to be. And I think a fair number of guys took positive steps in terms of playing mentally quick - lining up and knowing what they are supposed to do so they can go play fast and not have to think."

On any individuals that stepped up - "That's a hard one…a lot of guys did some really good things, and I'm really excited about them. If you want to single out a few - I think Danny Shelton, Josh Shirley, Jarett Finau, Talia - I think those guys at the Dline spots really got, for Spring Ball, really showed improvement. At linebacker, John Timu and Nate Fellner were the guys that seemed to pick it up. And in the secondary it was the usual suspects; I thought Des Trufant did well, Sean Parker, Justin Glenn was who his is - solid guy who comes to work every day and made some really good plays throughout spring. I could talk about a lot of them. If they continue to get better, that's what we're concerned with…that's what we have to be worried about during the entire summer and into the fall."

On if his plan for spring worked out during camp - "You're always going to be adjusting a little bit. There are still some spots that we've got to continue to develop, and guys that have shown improvement this spring have to continue to improve. We're still not where we need to be; I keep saying that, but it's the truth. I think some guys made improvements, like the people we talked about. In terms of shaping it for who we are personnel-wise, I think we got a better idea and I think when we get into fall - as those guys continue to develop during summer and they are doing their own workouts and 7-7's - they are going to get better with the scheme. And then you have however many guys showing up on defense in fall that we're going to get in there and see what they can do, the new guys. So it'll continue to kind of develop as we get through fall camp."

Offensive Coordinator Eric Kiesau:
On the vanilla offense - "That was very vanilla. We knew going in that we had to do that. It was a vanilla day because it had to be."

On if anyone jumped out to him - "Not particularly. We have a lot of improvement we have to do over the summer and in fall camp, so no one really stood out in general."

On the offensive line working with so many youngsters - "It is difficult, but that's no excuse. When those guys are in there, that's their opportunity to get better. We have to see improvement from those guys and really the whole group as a unit, as we look forward into summer and fall camp."

On some trick plays being thrown in - "We had a few up our sleeve just to make sure we had some fun and just so it wasn't power every down or whatever, but we had a few. We tried to throw some deep balls as well and gave some guys some chances to make some plays down the field which was good."

On how concerned he is in general - "I don't think it's concerns really. It's just more, we've got to continue to get better and improve and we're replacing a lot of good players from last year which gives a lot of these young kids the chance to develop and get better and move forward. Concern is not really the right word. Now if we had everything going today and it looked like this then it'd be, probably, a concern."

On what needs to improve - "I will say that the one concern was that we have to execute better. It's not just he execution, it's the details and execution, the penalties, the self-inflicted wounds when you hurt yourself. You have a good play on first down and it comes back and it's second-and-17, that kills you and that's the stuff we need to clean up."

On Jesse Callier not getting a lot of carries - "That was just kind of how the game was flowing and we had Bishop (Sankey) in there and, quite frankly, we were in a lot of second-and-longs so it was harder to run the ball there, so we had to kinda throw a little more than I wanted to to be honest, but there was no calculation on why Jesse was or wasn't in there."

On getting the ball to Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins - "We tried a few times and they definitely will be (targets this fall). Those are two great athletes and we'll definitely use them more and that's kinda the down side with being vanilla and the things we had to do today was you didn't get to expose everything, where we have some plays for them to get open."

On Josh Shirley being a pain in the butt for the offense - "That's the good thing, even though sometimes it doesn't look that plain…you're getting young offensive tackles and young offensive linemen exposure versus real good defensive players up front. So it's good. It's good for them, and as they grow and develop…during the season you're playing against the best, so it's good for them right now. Even though it doesn't look that clean, it's good film for them to correct and get better as we move forward."

On how does it feel so far coming up from Cal - "I love it. I really do. I love the culture, I love the players. The staff is awesome. The way Sark runs things is awesome. It's very different, but I'm enjoying it a lot. I love coming to work every day."

On how it's different than Cal - "It's just more the culture more than anything. It's not a bad thing; it's just the way people run their programs, and I really enjoy the way Sark does. And the rest of the staff, they make you feel very welcome when you're an outsider coming in."

On if either Callier or Sankey have an edge going into fall - "I think they are both even, and they are both good backs. They both do different things well. We'll carry that competition into fall camp, and that's the good thing about competition; when you have guys that are competing, you bring out the best in both of them. So we want to continue that nature."

On Keith Price - "He's a special player. He's a joy to be around, just his personality and his smile and the way he carries himself…obviously he's a phenomenal football player. I'm very excited to work with him."

On who made the biggest strides on offense - "I think James Atoe and Bishop Sankey did a great job this spring. I think Kasen has had some flashes. But those guys stand out the most are definitely James Atoe and Bishop Sankey."

On how he found his way into Sark's offense this spring - "It's minor details, really - just little things you probably wouldn't notice with the common eye because it's so similar. The schemes are so similar and we're doing the same things…you probably wouldn't notice it too much. But it's been good. The few things I've brought to the table Sark has taken them in and really likes it and we'll see where it goes through fall."

On if he thought it was going to be that good of a fit - "I had an idea just because over the years being at Cal and obviously you study other opponents…and when you study SC and what they do offensively you saw that there was a lot of similarities to what we do. We started talking on the phone. We started to learn the offense and going through the terminology and everything…it was an easy transition. The hardest thing was learning the new language. It's all the same stuff; it's just in how you talk, how you communicate."

On adding anything to the receivers mix - "I've tried to not do that, because I didn't want to be that guy that comes in and say look at the receivers and my experience with receivers…Jimmie, I've actually sat in on his meetings and he's a very knowledgeable and good coach…little pointers here and there I might have given him, but really it's just echoing what Jimmie is already doing. He does a great job. It's all the same, really."

On approaching spring a little more philosophically than the defense because the defense typically has the upper hand - "For us, it's more…we're trying new things, we're trying new schemes. So sometimes the defense is a little more ahead, but the thing I like about our defense is that they play with great energy and great effort. They really get after it, which is what I like. The one thing we have to always remember is that we're all on the same team here, so it's good when they do good. As bad as it feels for an offensive coach when they kind of beat up on you a little bit, it's a good thing knowing that are team is growing as an entire unit - which is good." Top Stories