Smith Impressed With Colorado's Secondary

Washington offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith sees a lot of similarities between the Husky and Colorado defenses...

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Are there any similarities between Colorado’s defense and Washington’s defense? “Very similar. They have some similar things schematically and some of the fronts and coverages that they play. So they’re very similar. They are a veteran group. There are a lot of guys that have played a lot of football for those guys on defense. They’ve done a phenomenal job this year. It will be a great challenge for us.”

On the similarities between both team’s secondaries “They play an aggressive style. They can cover. They’re not scared to put those guys on islands and they’ve been really good at it. That’s similar to our guys. We’ve got some talent in this secondary and on this team and they’re similar that way.”

Do they gamble as much with blitzes as WSU or ASU? “No. I don’t see them gambling> I see them playing sound. They’re aware of some of the islands they put those guys on but they’ve had success. They change up their pressures. Again, the quarterback has to be accurate. We’re going to have to make some plays on the ball, because they will be contested.”

Would you agree that the offensive performance wasn’t clean in the first quarter against WSU? “I know the third quarter when we had three total plays of offense was not what we wanted. We went three and out on one series and they possessed the ball a long time. I was pleased with a couple of the drives where we started on our own two and we were able to finish the thing. Overall it’s never going to be perfect. There’s always going to be some things we want to do better. But any time find a way to win the game we’re happy with that.”

How have you found your rhythm after the USC lost? “Again I think it’s our balance, being able to run and hotter the ball. I think that’s helped us. I think guys started early and made some plays the last couple of weeks and made kind of a spark plug for us. You have to bring your ‘a’-game each and every week. We’re hoping to do that on Friday.”

What stood out about the first quarter on offense? “I think a couple guys made some plays. I think that first drive we were able to overcome some penalties and guys making some plays. Huge third down conversion by Drew Sample. I’m just thinking of the first series here. That was a big play. We got the trick play. Dante (Pettis) throws an accurate ball to Darrell (Daniels). Have another penalty and go backwards. Then to be able to finish on third and two, third and three. Hand it off to Myles (Gaskin) and the o-line got some good push there. Got to execute early and if we can do that and get a little confidence going that would be huge for us this next week.”

What goes into deciding to call the trick plays? “There’s a couple of things. You have to look on the film leading up to that point. Some of it is you want to get maybe one called earlier than later. Sometimes it’s just a little bit of a feel. There’s a lot that goes into it. Again, those things can be hit or miss. Dante has been great in his decision making on that particular play, so we were feeling confident about calling it early.”

Are you surprised that you’re getting an identity about calling trick plays but teams are still falling most of them? “I don’t know if we have an idea. I don’t think we’ve run nearly as many as we have in the past. It’s there. I think it creates an awareness to the defense and maybe they don’t chase quite as hard at some of those things. I think it’s fun for the guys and it’s been somewhat effective.”

How does Colorado’s toughness show up on tape? “I know they’re tough. And they’re just defensively very sound. And they’re veteran. They make a lot of plays. You don’t see a lot of big plays going on them. Overall statistically the quarterback position against Colorado’s defense has created less than 50% of their balls. That’s some good defense in this conference to have that going on. You can see how many points they’re giving up. They’re a good group. They’re sound. They’re tough. They’re physical. And there’s a reason why they’re in this championship game.”

What is most important for Jake Browning this game? “Well, throw it on time, recognition of coverage, understand that they’re good on defense. We’re not going to just be going up and down the field and scoring 60-70 points. I don’t see that coming. So being able to stick and grind through it. But when there are plays to be made we have to make them. I think it’s similar to you’re going to get maybe half a dozen plays in this game against a good defense. We have to make those.”

What has it been about the combination of Lavon Coleman and Myles Gaskin? “They have some similarities. They’re not just totally different runners. They’re definitely just a one-two punch. There aren’t particular schemes we want Myles over Lavon (Coleman) or vice versa. Those guys have been awesome for us. It’s been able to keep those guys fresh, You think about Myles not having to take too many carries because you’re feeling great about Lavon getting in there. Those guys have been huge to our success for sure.”

What has getting Chico McClatcher healthy done to help you as a play caller? “You mix it in. You want to get him a couple touches in different way.s It’s been nice because obviously the two other wideouts are playing at a high level. But you throw that element in there with Chico. It just adds to our variety offensively what we can do.”

Would you expect Colorado to put a corner on an island against John Ross? “I do expect them to challenge him. They’ve challenged everybody. At the same time they’re going to mix it up. They’re not going to sit there and let him be isolated the whole time. I do expect some plays where they’re going to challenge him.”

What has Jake Browning improved on the most since last year? “A lot of areas. I think his accuracy in the red zone has been at a high level really throughout the year. I think he’s improved there. I think his decision making when he’s extended the plays improved. Not forcing a couple balls where he did his freshman year. We’re putting a lot on his plate in recognition of coverage and changing plays. He’s improved in his overall command of the offense for sure.”

Does that improvement come from experience? “Experience and his work ethic. He’s worked at it. He studies it. Goes over it. Writes notes. He’s been working at it for a long time and it’s paying off.”

How successful do you think Jake Browning has been at finding guys down field? “He’s been successful. There are always going to be some plays where he misses them or didn’t see them. That happens. We feel pretty confident he’s going to continue to play at a high level.”

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