Midseason Grades - Defense

We're at the midway point of the 2013 football season and Washington is sporting a 4-2 record. Here's a look at each defensive position group and how they've fared so far this season as well as what to look forward to during the second half of the season...

Secondary: This unit has played the best of any position group on defense. For the most part CB Marcus Peters and S Sean Parker have been playing at All-Conference levels while S Will Shamburger and CB Greg Ducre have been solid if not spectacular at different times. Losing Desmond Trufant to graduation could have really been trouble for the Dawgs, but Ducre has stepped in and played well at times although he's been a bit inconsistent of late. Peters struggled vs. Oregon last weekend, but he's been one of the best corners in the conference this season, playing well in man-to-man and also being very stout against the run. His stop of Kevin Hogan on 3rd-and-1 in a key moment during the Stanford game was outstanding and showed why some of us think he could be the best corner to come out of Washington in years. Parker is the enforcer and like a coach on the field. He never seems to be out of position and he's a sure-tackler against the run. Shamburger's play has been a pleasant surprise. He's long and athletic and he's at his best against the run and the short passing game. His only issue is he can't cover receivers one-on-one and Oregon found a way to exploit that last Saturday. As far as the depth is concerned, senior Tre Watson has been a key backup for the Dawgs as he's able to play the nickel corner spot and some safety while freshmen Trevor Walker and Kevin King have been solid in spot duty at safety while we have yet to see much from guys like CB Cleveland Wallace and S/CB Brandon Beaver.

Midseason Grades: B+

Linebackers: The starters have been Shaquille Thompson and Princeton Fuimaono outside with John Timu inside. All three have been solid if not spectacular, but the feeling is they can be even better in the second half of the season. Timu doesn't overrun plays like he used to and he's looked at as one of the leaders on the defense. Thompson racks up tackles like crazy, but most feel he hasn't reached his full potential yet. Fuimaono is a big-hitter and very physical for his size and he's been good in space and pursuit. The senior leads the team with 44 tackles (28 solo) and generally he's been the most consistent of the group. The top two backups are Travis Feeney, last year's starter outside, and Thomas Tutogi. Feeney is a big hitter and he "plays on the edge" quite a bit, toeing that fine line of physical and illegal. His biggest issues have been in coverage where he's blown several and that seems to have made the coaches a bit skittish in playing him as much as you would expect. Tutogi is what he is -- a between the tackles linebacker who isn't quite athletic enough to play in space. He struggles with fast teams and that is why he hasn't seen as much playing time as you'd think. Jamaal Kearse and Scott Lawyer are both solid special teams players and they've seen some time on the field with the defense, but it hasn't been consistent.

Midseason Grades: B

Defensive Line: The play of NT Danny Shelton has been outstanding. He's almost immovable and he stuffs the run well. He's a big reason the Huskies have been so stout against the run. The junior from Auburn also recorded his first-ever sack during the first half of the season. Next to him, it's basically been a turnstile with players like Lawrence Lagafuaina, Sione Potoae, Andrew Hudson and Evan Hudson all seeing time inside. Evan Hudson has been the starter at one of the defensive end spots while Cory Littleton and Josh Shirley have battled it out on the other side while Hauoli Kikaha and Connor Cree have both rotated in as well. Kikaha has come back from a knee injury that forced him to miss over a year and a half of action to lead the team with 3.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles-for-loss and he's generally been disruptive when he's been in the game. When the Huskies want to go to a bigger package along the line, they put Shelton and Evan Hudson inside with Kikaha and either Shirley or Littleton outside. Shirley has seen limited reps, but still ranks second on the team with three sacks while Littleton has posted 24 tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks. When Washington wants to go light to add more speed to their front four, they have put Littleton and Shirley on the edges with Kikaha and Andrew Hudson moving inside. With teams like Arizona State, Washington State, Oregon State and California on the horizon, you can probably expect to see more of that front in the coming weeks. Also, as they get more experience, expect to see freshmen Joe Mathis and Marcus Farria start to see more reps at defensive end.

Midseason Grades: C+

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