Pete Kwiatkowski is Washington’s defensive coordinator, and as such calls the Huskies’ defensive plays.
But as UW head coach Chris Petersen says, “it’s not any one guy’s final decision or show.” Kwiatkowski takes input from UW’s other defensive assistants, and when it comes to defending the pass, Petersen said “it all comes from Jimmy Lake.”
So Petersen said it was “fitting” that he decided last week to formally promote Lake, the team’s defensive backs coach, to co-defensive coordinator.
“They just work really well together,” Petersen said Sunday, the team’s final day in Seattle before its Monday departure for Dallas. “And I’ve said this — it’s like we’ve had a few coordinators on that side of the ball. So I think the promotion for Jimmy is well deserved. He’s a really, really good coach, and it’s well deserved and it’s fitting.”
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Under Lake, UW’s defensive backfield matured from a liability in 2014 into perhaps the team’s greatest strength this season. The Huskies allowed only nine passing touchdowns and totaled 15 interceptions in 2015, and had two players, sophomore safety Budda Baker and sophomore cornerback Sidney Jones, named first-team All-Pac-12.
So Petersen promoted Lake, perhaps in part to prevent him from pursuing opportunities at other schools. Asked if other teams tried to hire Lake away, Petersen replied: “We have guys coming at all of our coaches. When you have good coaches, they’re going to come try to get them. So what we’ve always said is we try to take care of them as much as we can. We try to make this job one of the best jobs they’ve ever had.
“But with that being said, we’re always about helping guys achieve their goals, so if there’s a job that fits what they’re all about and that’s really what they had in their sights — just like Coach (Jeff) Choate being a head coach (at) Montana (State) — that’s what we want to help them do.”
Choate, UW’s defensive line coach and special teams coordinator, will remain in that role through the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Dec. 26. He was named Montana State’s head coach on Dec. 4.
Petersen said he hopes to announce a replacement for Choate “soon.” Reports indicate that ex-Husky defensive back Ikaika Malloe, currently the defensive line coach at Utah State, has been offered a similar position at UW, but nothing is official.
“I know how things go around here, and things get out really fast and all that, but sometimes my hands are tied in terms of when we announce things and all that,” Petersen said. “But we’ll get it out as soon as we can.”