Cartoon analogies apt for divergent defenses

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.comSeptember 20, 2013 

SEATTLE — “The Jetsons” first aired in 1962 and was set in futuristic 2062, with everyone from rowdy pet dog Astro to bumbling patriarch George flying around via zippy contraptions.

The cartoon went on to run through the ’80s, ending in 1987, six years before Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton was born.

Yet, here was Shelton referencing the Space Age cartoon and its Stone Age companion “The Flintstones” when talking about Washington’s defensive personnel groups Wednesday.

Against spread-out and speedy Illinois, Washington often sent in the Jetsons, a light and swift personnel grouping designed to be more mobile. Defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha, the heaviest member at 250 pounds, moved inside from his typical end spot.

Conversely, the Flintstones are a jumbo package anchored by defensive tackles like Shelton and Lawrence Lagafuaina.

The lighter unit is something defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox sketched out in the preseason and specified for the game against Illinois.

Throughout the first half, Illinois tried to throw against the package. It didn’t work.

In the second half, the Illini shifted to running from their first-half formations, something they had not done earlier in the season. They found success with it.

“There are times where we might be a little bit softer at the point of attack not only because we might be in a certain pass-rush front but because our biggest guy out there is 248 pounds,” Wilcox said. “There’s just physics involved at that point.

“You’re going to give a little to get a little. We knew we were giving up weight, and if they did decide to run the ball we were going to have to make some plays getting off a block.”

Of Washington’s 10 remaining regular-season games, nine will be against teams that run some variation of up-tempo or spread offense. Even Idaho State will to try to force tempo.

“You’re always going to give and take,” Wilcox said.

Because of that schedule, the Jetsons package may end up feeling like a rerun by the end of the year.

TIMU STILL BANGED UP

Starting middle linebacker John Timu was limited in practice this week, wearing a no-contact yellow jersey when he left the field Tuesday and Wednesday.

Timu bruised his rotator cuff late in the second quarter against Illinois and did not play the second half. If he can’t play Saturday, which appears likely, senior Thomas Tutogi is expected to start at middle linebacker.

Tutogi is built for games against opponents like Stanford. He’s a downhill run-stuffer. Because Idaho State wants to pass the ball about 75 percent of the time, the Huskies will likely rotate linebackers, including Princeton Fuimaono and Shaq Thompson, into the middle and play split-front defenses.

DWAYNE WASHINGTON LOOKS FOR REBOUND

Redshirt freshman running back Dwayne Washington had two carries and two fumbles last Saturday vs. Illinois.

Coach Steve Sarkisian immediately said after the game Washington will be all right. Sarkisian reminded the media that Bishop Sankey fumbled a kickoff his freshman season.

Washington had the ball knocked loose on his first fumble. On the second, he let the ball go as his leg was being awkwardly bent underneath him.

“I kind of let it get to me and I kind of released the ball,” Washington said.

Washington chalked it up to road game inexperience. It was his first appearance away from Husky Stadium.

“Just being at a different stadium, my first time being on the field somewhere else, there was a lot of distractions,” Washington said. “I just let it all get to my head.”

Jesse Callier took Washington’s place as the No. 2 back. He had 66 yards on six carries. Callier said an extended visit to the ice bath has him feeling good after his largest workload in more than a year.

Callier tore his ACL in last season’s opener, ending his year.

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Todd_Dybas

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