Eriks ready for battle

Ty Eriks is used to having his head on a swivel. At the beginning of the 2003 season, Ty was entrenched as Zach Tuiasosopo's backup at fullback. Two games into the 2003 campaign, Eriks switched positions, due to lack of playing time and a need for a true speed-rush specialist. At 6-2 and 245 pounds, the junior-to-be from O'Dea High School is primed to break-out as that guy after a trying season of learning the ropes while in the ring.

"When you're thrown into the fire and don't know the position all that well you find out what your weaknesses are pretty quick," Eriks told Dawgman.com. "Definitely you try to work on those during the season, but you can only do so much while you are playing. So this off-season I tried to bring everything up to speed. In the weight room I worked on my bench (press) so I can get better punch off the line and I worked on getting lower, bending my knees. I had a lot of time to work on those things during the off-season, and I've gotten pretty good at what I need to do."

While he's not one-hundred percent sure about whether or not he'll be playing the rush end backer position or the HUSKY defensive end spot, Eriks will be doing his best to hold down his end of the fort. A lot of that will be determined later when Rashaad Goodrum comes in from finishing classes at Los Angeles (Calif.) Valley College.

Goodrum is ineligible to compete this spring, but is expected to be in Seattle soon. That gives Eriks an opportunity for more reps and more face time with Randy Hart. "I love him as a coach," Ty said when asked about the long-time UW defensive line coach. "He sits down with you and tells you exactly what needs to happen. He lays it all out, and if it doesn't happen, it's all on your end. He gives it to you straight, one-hundred percent. He gives you every opportunity to be the best player you can be. I can't ask for anything more."

Even though Ty will be most likely competing with Goodrum for a starting spot, Eriks sees Rashaad's arrival to Montlake as a very important one when looking at the larger picture. "He's going to be a great addition to our defensive line," Eriks said. "We have to work more as a group, as opposed to trying to compete against each other because we play a lot of people all the time. It's more about how were going to gel as a group and make sure everybody does their job, stays in their gap. I think the focus more this off-season has been working more as a group and also turning up the tempo. Everything is full-speed. We had problems with that last year, so this this it's been running to the ball a lot, going full-speed.

"We have a lot of speed in me, Rashaad and Brandon Ala. All three of us have good speed, as well as Mike Mapu too. He looks good, pretty agile. I see a lot of speed, and I see the whole D-line working hard in the weight room, getting a lot stronger. Everybody's boosting their weights and it's reflecting in how they are maxing out."

Ty is also impressed with the new defensive coaches, Jimmy Lake and Chris Tormey. "Even though there are some new coaches around, surprisingly there's a lot of team unity too," said Eriks. "I think everyone came together as a team when all this turmoil happened and now that it's all settling down I think we're better people and a better team for it. You can already see guys gelling with their coaches pretty well and definitely taking in everything they can from these new coaches."

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