Glenn, Batts Make the Switch

Justin Glenn doesn't live far from the Washington campus, but his head may have been a million miles away from the safety position he now inhabits. For Glenn, it was a shocking move back to a place that once was familiar ground, but now he realizes it's just another move made by the Washington coaches to get the most out of the players they have.

With all the positives that came out of Saturday's loss to LSU, there was one glaring hole in the Huskies' defensive effort. Safety Greg Walker was burned a couple of times for touchdowns by the Tigers' Terrance Toliver, part of a four catch, 117-yard evening.

"He didn't have the help around him that he needed to," Washington Defensive Coordinator Nick Holt said on Wednesday. "Now, he missed the tackle, but he should have had a couple bodies there to help him out. And a couple of the kids, that you wouldn't know because of the call, should have been in the vicinity, where, if the mistake occurred, they would've been there for the tackle.

"It's hard to ask anybody – an NFL safety – to make a great play in space on a big receiver. It's really hard. Greg didn't have any help from his corner, nor one of his linebackers. They were caught up doing some other things where they shouldn't have been."

In a perfect world, Walker would still be learning the ropes behind veteran Jason Wells, but with Wells out due to injury, the redshirt freshman from Bellflower, Calif. has been pressed into service. But he's not the only one.

"It's an open position," Holt said, matter-of-factly. "There are some other positions that are open on our defense. It's a good situation to have, and it's competitive, and the kids have to battle to get better every day. It makes for a good climate on your football team. Kids know they have an opportunity."

On top of that, Holt admitted that because of the lack of depth at some of the positions in the secondary has taken away some of the strategic options he would normally have at his disposal. One of those options is putting an extra defensive back in during pass situations - typically called nickel personnel. "It's unfortunate, because we've got to find those guys," he said. "We're looking at them in the nickel, and we weren't able to do any of that stuff the first game. We might not be able to do any nickel this year. Somebody has to rise up and do that stuff. That position is a hard position. We ask them to blitz, we ask them to play zone coverage and we ask them to play man. So we'll wait and see. Hopefully something works out."

Enter Glenn into the fray at safety, a position he knew very well as a standout defensive back at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo, where he picked off five passes and earned All-State honors as a senior.

"We're trying to find that competitive edge, the relentless pursuit," Holt said. "And that means finding our best players at positions. We're trying to mix and match and find things that guys can do well. David Batts is a tall kid that is athletic, and being a corner he can pick that up a little easier. Safeties have so many adjustments and he hasn't been in our system very long. I think that was a very good move for him. And Justin Glenn is a very heady football player, he's a very physical corner. And in this conference you get spread out and you have to have athletic safeties. And I think it's a really good move for him, and hopefully he can pick it up and hopefully in Saturday...he can get some positive reps for us.

Glenn was certainly hoping for time this Saturday against the Idaho Vandals. He just wasn't aware that he was going to be inside, instead of out. "It came kind of unexpectedly," he said of the decision to move him inside. "At first I was kind of iffy about it because we're already in the season, but now that we're out here and I'm learning it I'm having a lot of fun. I think it's a better fit for me. I like the freedom back there, reading the quarterback a little more and making plays on the ball."

Batts' unfamiliarity with the systems has also given Glenn a chance at another position - nickel. "It's fine with me," he said. "I'm having fun with it. There's a lot to learn at safety. You're like the QB of the defense. At corner you're on an island and take care of your job. At safety you have to know where everyone fits in - so it's different."

And speaking of fitting in, Glenn's biggest responsibility from here on out is making sure he knows where his defensive teammates fit in when it comes time to shutting down the opponent's run offense. "At corner you're always (run fit) outside in, but at safety it's a whole different ballgame. You have to watch everything inside out. It may seem like the guy is right there, but the next thing you know he's in the open field. So you have to really watch the angles when you are tackling. If you take one wrong's just one of those things.

"You just have to work on it. That comes with experience."
Youth Rules on the DL: With Darrion Jones doubtful for Saturday's game, it likely means Kalani Aldrich will earn his first career start. "Kalani's a guy who has a lot of potential, a lot of upside. I was encouraged that he got in the game and played the way he did. I think he can play even better."

And right behind him are a couple of true freshmen - Andru Pulu and Talia Crichton - that are barking at the heels of the seniors, trying to give them something to compete against so they can contribute in their own way come game time.

"They are physically gifted," Sarkisian said. "Without the physical tools it would be hard. And between Nick (Holt) and Johnny (Nansen), they are getting well coached. They have good work ethics and they are starting to make plays. It's encouraging."

Pulu and Crichton - as well as DT Semisi Tokolahi - are thriving under a system that allows freshmen to come in and compete, provided they are ready to play. Fans have already seen it happen with WR James Johnson and CB Desmond Trufant.

"I think every kid we recruit, right away that's what we tell them," Nansen said Wednesday afternoon. "If you want to compete for a starting job and you want to play right away, we'll give you that opportunity. In our camps, we put 'em in those situations. You see Talia and Andru running with the ones. It's what we preach to the kids and it's what you're seeing it now."

"I didn't expect to play defensive end," added Pulu, who was a bruising middle linebacker under Federal Way Head Coach John Meagher. "I thought I was going to play linebacker, but it's been a good change. I trust these coaches."

At 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, Pulu has the size to be a real force at DE. But according to Nansen, that's not the only thing the frosh have going for them. "They come from great high schools," he said. "Obviously Talia played in one of the real elite leagues - the Moore League. They play (Long Beach) Poly and all that. He's prepared for that competition, and when we recruited him we knew he would be ready. And Andru Pulu has been working out with our team since he got done with high school, so he's prepared himself to be in that situation."

"I'm just going to be on the sidelines, waiting for my name to be called," added Pulu. "I'll be ready. I did all the summer workouts, all the lifting. I worked hard with the team and the strength coaches."

Dream Come Tru: Tacoma's Desmond Trufant is another reason why Justin Glenn could be moved to safety. The 6-footer from Wilson High School, despite missing half of fall camp, has come in and be a solid performer at cornerback for the Huskies. "He's obviously a very talented kid," Sarkisian said of Trufant. "He put in the time in the summer and showed that he could be a real factor. Unfortunately, it just didn't start the way we wanted it to. He couldn't practice at the beginning, and that kind of slowed down his progress. But he's starting to show up more and more."

"I was behind, so they just threw me in there, see what I could do and how I'd adapt," Trufant said Wednesday. "It was sink or swim. I think I did all right. It gave me a lot of experience. My head is still swimming, still trying to get these plays and learning these schemes, still getting used to everything. It's coming together."

Trufant comes from the first family of cornerbacks in the NW: His brother Marcus was a standout performer at Washington State and his other older brother, Isaiah, was an All-Big Sky performer as a senior at Eastern Washington. "They both gave me advice, and told me to go hard, no matter what," Desmond said. "You are going to mess up, you're new to it – just go hard, use the athleticism and that will make up for it."

Facing the Vandals: So have any of the UW coaches with Idaho ties been thinking about going up against their former team? "I haven't even put any thought into it to be honest with you," Nansen said. "I've got a job to do here and they've got a job to do there after the game we will go out and look each other up but I haven't talked to any of them yet. A lot of people are putting a lot into it but really its not. I've got a job to do to get these guys ready to play Saturday.

Holt is in a unique position, having been a head coach at Idaho. After going 5-18 during the 2004 and 2005 seasons with the Vandals, Holt was poised to leave Moscow, Idaho for a job with the St. Louis Rams and another coach with Idaho ties - Scott Linehan. But he was then lured back to USC, where he had worked under Pete Carroll from 2001 to 2003.

What makes Holt's situation even more unique is the fact that many of the Idaho players he recruited for the 2006 class are still there, including QB Nathan Enderle, DE Aaron Lavarias, S Shiloh Keo, DL Jonah Sataraka and RB Princeton McCarty.

"It's been four years since I've been there," Holt said. "There are still some of the kids that I recruited, fifth-year seniors, they're playing really well. I wish them all success, just not on Saturday. "I'm sure they were disappointed and mad at the time, but that was so long ago. That was four years ago, and they've moved on. Some of them may have been happy with the change. You look back on it and it's unfortunate because I loved those kids that we recruited and they were great kids that played their ass off for us. We would have loved to see those kids through and seen them graduate, but they are there and they are doing a nice job. And coach (Robb) Akey is doing a really good job with that program. It's worked out for the best."

Injury Update: Sarkisian said Wednesday that OT Skyler Fancher has had surgery to repair his injured ankle. And while not ruling him out, calling Darrion Jones' knee bruise 'day-to-day', it seems doubtful the senior DE will play. Top Stories