VIDEO: Pete Kwiatkowski on Spring Ball Day 11's Kim Grinolds spoke Friday with Washington Defensive Coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski at length about the Huskies' D, the progress they've made through 11 practices, the personality of this year's defense, and more.

How much do you lean on guys from past coaching staffs for schemes and such? “My head coach at Boise was Lyle Setencich. A lot of my stuff, my foundation was from him. And my d-line coach and other guys over the years. It’s a big fraternity, no ones much out there. Basically if someone does it someone else puts their spin on it.”


How much new stuff is out there these days? “You know when all the RPO offenses, there was a lot of trying to figure out catch up and how to defend it. Just how to play different coverages like cover three or quarters or trying to figure out way to tweak those coverages and make them different interpretations of cookie cutter zone drop. That’s always a challenge nowadays with all the run-pass options.”


Are you content with the progress of the defense? “Yeah. You always wish you could speed it up and when you’re new there is always that learning curve as coaches and players. As you get into your second and third year the familiarity, the trust ,it’s all built. You can advance faster because all the verbiage, everything that’s thrown at guys when you first get here, it’s a lot. It takes a lot longer for guys to process and learn all that stuff. Expectations and then as you get further in the program, all that’s taken care of. You’re always managing it and talking about it, but you’re on to other new schemes, new ways to lift, always trying to push that envelope to get better.”


How tough is it to bottle in players that just want to hit? “It’s an ongoing process for sure. That’s why most kids get into football: to hit. You just have to keep educating them on you don’t always need to bang live all the time, but we’d like to. Like coach Petersen said, it’s not about winning spring ball. It’s about getting better, getting our work in, and getting better and then getting it to the season.”


On a lack of holes on the roster “We have some decent depth now and it’s not just bodies; it’s guys that have played a little bit, played a lot. We have guys that are coming back that have been freshman, redshirted, that are getting into the mix. Yeah, we do; we have a lot of guys. That’s the challenge of us coaches. You try to get all these guys opportunities and reps to show what they can do and you only have so many team reps. So we stress to them, it’s on you now. When you get those opportunities, whether it’s ten or it’s three, you need to make the most of your opportunity. That’s really talking to the guys that might be like third team or fourth team.”


Is the personality of the defense different than last year? “I wouldn’t say greatly. When you say different personality, yeah, the different guys that become the leaders, become older. They bring a little different flavor. I think the guys, they have a lot of confidence. Our challenge is we want them to play with that confidence but we don’t want them to be overconfident. It’s all about today; ‘how am I going to get better today?’ Stick to that process. What’s happened in the past is in the past and what happens in the future is in the future. What can I control? What I’m doing today. What am I going to do today on this football field and individual, so that’s the message you’re always trying to drill so these guys don’t get out ahead of themselves.”


Do you miss coach Choate? “I always miss coach Choate. It’s the second time he’s left me.”


Who’s stepping up this spring? “Shane Bowman. He’s going to be a sophomore. HE redshirted, was a redshirt freshman last year, played a little bit. He’s been making good progress. At the DB spot, Jordan Miller. He got to play last year a little bit. He’s continuing to get better. He’s not one of those guys – he’s got good players ahead of him – he’s not sitting back and ‘woe is me.’ He’s competing. Brandon Lewis is another guy – he hasn’t played a lot – that’s getting better. Jury is still out on some of these guys that redshirted, so until they get put to the fire, the true test, I don’t know.”


On Jaylen Johnson “Jaylen (Johnson) is an extremely strong, explosive guy. He can get some really good knock off on o-linemen and he’s got strong hands. He’s one of those guys. He could be a starter; he could be a back up. The way I want to look at it, you’re like ‘oh we’ve got three starting d-linemen.’ That’s the goal. Especially at the d-line, we have a lot of guys that can play. Only 11 guys can start, but they’re all going to play a lot.”


How much pressure does it take off knowing you have such a good secondary? “I tell the d-linemen all the time ‘how many times do we actually just blow by a guy and get one of those untouched sacks?’ I can count on one hand the whole season. Most of our sacks come off of coverage. The reverse to that, I tell the guys ‘how many times do you see when the quarterback has thrown on time and everything is comfortable for him do you see DBs get picks?’ You don’t.  They’re getting picks when they can’t step into their throw because you guys are getting push. They go hand in hand. Pressure forces turnovers like interceptions and great coverage gets d-line sacks. That’s a little symbiotic bond right there.”


What was going through your head when you saw Budda Baker lined up at wide receiver? “I didn’t see him over there at wide receiver.”

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