VIDEO: Washington Defensive Line Coach Jeff Choate Tuesday Briefing - Apple Cup spoke Tuesday with Washington Defensive Line Coach Jeff Choate, who talked about his experience with the Apple Cup as the Huskies and Washington State Cougars square off for the 108th time Friday at Husky Stadium.

On if the Apple Cup feels different than other games “I think we feel the urgency too. I recruit in-state and I’m a northwest native so this is a game that I’ve paid attention to for a long time. I think it’s really important for us to have momentum. We don’t want to be the guys that are walking around the state wearing purple and everybody else talking about how the Cougs won. That’s a huge goal for this program, to make sure that we keep the Apple Cup in Seattle, and it’s a very important game not only for us as coaches and the players on both sides, but obviously also for the alumni and the community.”


On the difficulty if staying on top of execution when stakes are high “I think that’s always something you have to battle; we kind of talk about the performance anxiety curve. You have to have a high level of focus but also a high level of intensity and you can’t let one override the other. If you’re not intense enough and you have plenty of focus you’re a little lackadaisical. If you’re way over the board in intensity you’re probably not going to have the attention to detail and execution that you need.”


On if the Cougar QBs hold onto the ball long enough for pass rush to make a difference “I think they do a really nice job of kind of mixing things up. I think they’ve done a better job of running the ball a little more consistently. I think their screen game is much improved, which slows the rush down. And then they know they’re getting heat they do a really good job of getting the ball out. I think their system allows a quarterback to get comfortable and know where he’s going with the ball. I think, regardless of who plays quarterback, we know they’re going to throw it and they’re going to throw it efficiently.”


On how different the Cougars look from when he was over their coaching “They look quite a bit different. A lot of the same guys, especially on the o-line; a lot of those guys were playing as young guys over there or were on the scout team that I was working with. They look different. They definitely do. I think they’re a more mature football team. They’ve got a couple of wrinkles on offense. I remember him talking about he didn’t believe in empty or motion and they’re doing both now. He’s kind of evolved a little bit and I think that’s helped them on offense. Obviously they’ve gotten tremendous play out of their perimeter guys. I think their running backs have been very good. I think their o-line is very improved. Probably the biggest difference – you know we follow these guys in a lot of games and I have a vested interested because I recruited a lot of those guys on the defensive side – they’ve really done a nice job of tightening up their scheme on the defensive side.”


On the challenge the Cougars offensive line’s splits cause for defenses “I’d say that it’s just one of those things that we can’t fall into a false sense of security. I think we’ve got to do a good job of keeping our eyes on our keys. A lot of times when they’re moving you can have a tendency to get out of your fits, especially if they’re going sideways on the run game. In their vertical pass sets you have to resist the temptation to do a whole lot of dancing. I tell out guys all the time ‘don’t cha cha.’ We have to get into our man and hit our fit; don’t worry about being fancy in pass rush. It’s just about collapsing the pocket and doing a good job of keeping it dirty.”


So no barrel rolls? “That wasn’t fancy in pass-rush, that was pre-snap. Danny (Shelton) was the 12th overall pick in the draft; you earn a little bit of credibility to do that kind of stuff.”


On Elijah Qualls “He’s practiced this week. I think you’re going to see him in the game.” Top Stories