Husky DL coach Jeff Choate talks about bowl preparations and splitting his time between UW and Montana State

As the Huskies continue their preparations for the Heart of Dallas Bowl, Husky defensive line coach Jeff Choate is splitting his duties between Washington and his future home, Montana State and he updated Dawgman.com about his days as well as what young players are standing out in bowl practices...

On his style as a special teams coordinator “That’s an interesting question because I kind of got thrown into the lions den when I was at Utah State. I was a graduate assistant for a year and then I took over as the special teams guy. There was a guy named Sean McNabb that maybe nobody knows about. This guy was the special teams coordinator at the University of Utah and he was kind of semi-retired. He came up and sat down with me for about a week and gave me the crash course on special teams. That would be the guy I really learned probably the most from in my first couple years of doing it. Over time just sharing a lot of ideas with a guy named Chris Tabor, who’s the special teams guys for the Cleveland Browns; he and I actually worked together at Utah State. Tom McMahon who’s the special teams guy for the Colts, he and I worked together at Utah State. It was kind of an interesting group of guys there at the same time that shared a lot of ideas. It was a good situation.”

 

On how he defines his style “I think I’m unorthodox. I think I always have been. I think we try to be sound in what we do in terms of how we teach the fundamentals of the game. I want to try to create problems for the opposing coordinator in terms of his preparation and give him some headaches now and then and I know what bothers me and I try to include that into our game plan. I think my work body speak for itself. It’s been pretty successful most places I’ve been. I enjoyed that part of doing the game. I enjoy that part of doing the game. I think it’s a great way to interact with the whole team.”

 

On coach Gregory taking over as special teams coordinator “He’s probably not as happy as I am. Nobody wants that job. Bob (Gregory) is going to do a great job. I think it’s going to allow him to grow in a different way as a coach. He’s been a defensive coordinator and a really smart guy, a very detailed oriented guy. A really good fundamental football coach. I think he’ll add his own spin to things and things will go really well here. I’m excited for him to get that opportunity and I’m sure he’ll kind of put his spin on things and it’ll continue to improve and grow.”

 

On what his days are like now “I bounce back and forth (between UW and Montana State) quite a bit now. Really kind of my experience here is going to be doing what we do. I kind of know how we game plan week in and week out. A lot of the support staff I can kind of delegate some responsibilities. I’d be the front man on special teams and with the d-line at the practices and that’s pretty normal for me. I’ve been doing that a long time. I’m calling guys that are on the existing roster at Montana State, finalizing my staff, talking about transition, recruiting 2016 prospects. It’s kind of like you spend 15-20 minutes doing this, 15-20 minutes doing this, and 15-20 minutes doing that. But I’ve always kind of been a multi-task guy anyway. Even the job that I had here was two fold with the d-line and the special teams. It works out okay.”

 

On how long his days are “I’m out of the house at 5:45 at the latest. It depends on the day. Today we had a little bit earlier practice. I’ll probably get home around 5:00 or 6:00. Last night was about 9:30. It just kind of depends.”

 

On if he works from home for his head coaching job “Yeah, a lot of the calls. I can make calls there and do things of that nature. I can call my existing staff there, guys that I’m trying to get on board, take care of the players there, and talk to the administrator. A lot of that stuff I can do on the phone.”

 

On advice he got about the move “Coach Petersen and I, some of the staff guys see us talking in the hall and be like ‘oh, it’s head coach stuff.’ There are so many things you don’t really think about. The one thing that dawned on me almost immediately after getting the job was I can’t really have a selfish thought during the course of the day because I have to think about what’s best for the existing players, what’s best for the guys on the staff, my family, I’m the last guy I can think about. When you’re the assistant coach you’re taking care of the guys in your room, your family, and yourself. You’re thinking about what’s best for me and you can’t have that mindset to be a really good head coach; you have to think about what’s best for other people.”

 

On if he told coach Petersen right away “Oh yeah, absolutely. That wasn’t even really a thought for me. We actually had a conversation ‘what happens if this happens?’ I said ‘I don’t know.’ There are certainly arguments on both sides. When I said ‘I think I’m going for this job.’ He said ‘well, I’d like you to stay.’ It was an easy decision.”

 

On young guys that have stood out in practice “The two that would jump out to me right away would be Vita Vea, who I know has gotten more and more reps as things have gone on, but he’s a guy that I think is a special talent and is going to be a really good player the Dawgs. And Shane Bowman has made some strides too. He’s played more in the last few games. He’s come along. The redshirt guys, a couple of those guys have had just some minor things they’re getting cleaned up right now so they aren’t going through the bowl practice, but Ricky McCoy has flashed a bunch in the last couple of practices. I think he’s going to be a really good player here. It’s going to be tough to get snaps with the interior defensive line. There’s a really good group of guys there. It’s going to be a dog fight, to coin a phrase I’m sure, to get reps with those guys because you have Vita (Vea), Elijah (Qualls), Greg Gaines, Jaylen Johnson, and Shane (Bowman) and Will (Dissly). Then you throw Ricky (McCoy) into the group and Benning (Potoa’e), however he fits in the future, is obviously a guy that’s a special player as well. It’s going to be a fun group to watch.”

 

On Ricky McCoy’s position “I think he’s probably going to be more of a three (technique). A nose-three in a four down stuff and I think he’ll translate to that well. There’s a walk-on kid named John Clark; the guy is a warrior man. He’s a kid from Marysville Getchell and he’s done just an unbelievable job. Jared Pulu is guy that has a high, high ceiling and he’s really matured as well. Jason Scrempos has a little shoulder thing he’s getting cleaned up. He was making strides. I’m not leaving the cupboard bare, let me say that.”

 

On Benning Potoa’e maybe playing BUCK but maybe growing into a different position “Yeah, which is the position he’s been playing as a redshirt. I think that that whole position versatility thing is really important because if he can do that then he adds value in terms of him being able line up a really dynamic player in a number of positions. I think he can do that and he’s proven that. It will be interesting to see how he develops.”


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