Like many others, Washington Huskies defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake says he was surprised by junior cornerback Darren Gardenhire’s decision to transfer from UW.
Gardenhire announced Monday morning that he is leaving the program. The Seattle Times and ESPN reported that his decision stemmed from his refusal to take a university-mandated drug test.
Asked about Gardenhire’s departure on Tuesday, Lake repeated coach Chris Petersen’s statement that the player left because of a “difference of philosophy.”
“Definitely surprised and still stunned,” Lake said. “I love him. I’ll always love him. I recruited him, spent a lot of time with him, and I wish him the best.”
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Here is more of what Lake said Tuesday about Friday’s Apple Cup game, Washington State’s offense and more.
(On the difficulties of preparing on a short week) “It really is, but this is what we do for a living. I love football. I have a passion for football. Obviously a passion for this game, the Apple Cup. I couldn’t wait – we finished off the Arizona State game, then we had some time that night. I was already watching WSU that night, and then woke up early in the morning about 5 in the morning and started watching again. I love football, I love my job and so this is part of the deal.”
(On WSU’s offense) “This system, they have a big-time quarterback, they have great wide receivers, leading with (Gabe) Marks. This system comes from Texas Tech – Texas Tech is currently No. 1 in the country in pass offense, and guess who’s No. 2? Wazzu. There’s no mistaking that this is an excellent offense, it’s very, very challenging, they put a lot of pressure on people, and it’ll be a challenge for us.”
(On covering WSU’s running backs) “No question. They have two running backs that have 40-plus catches, so we have to deal with them in the pass game, but also new this year, and I think it’s been well covered – they hand the ball off a lot more than they did last year. So they’re more balanced than they’ve been in prior years, which makes them more difficult to defend.”
(On depth behind Darren Gardenhire) “Guys have got a number of reps in our non-conference games, and at the end of some of our games that we were up by a lot of points. So I’m real happy with our depth. We have a number of guys that I think are game ready and they’ll get their opportunity this Friday.”
(On Kevin King’s one-handed interception) “That was an impressive one, right there. It’s got to rank up there as one of the best I’ve seen, for sure. I saw the angle on the sideline first, then I knew we got the interception, then I had some time to look up at the scoreboard and see the replay, and that’s when I was really in awe. I’ve seen him do it in practice. I talk to guys all the time about his tremendous ball skills, and it was awesome that he got to show the nation what kind of ball skills he has.”
(More of a challenge facing Luke Falk this year instead of a backup?) “This will be our second time going against Luke. Two years ago in Pullman we went against Luke. So we’ve already faced him before. That was when all of our DBs were freshmen, and he was a freshman, so this will be the second time we’ve faced him. We’re looking forward to it.”
(He’s a little bit of a different player now, though) “And so are we. Sidney’s different, and so is Budda.”
(Is he the best QB you’ll face this year?) “He’s up there, for sure. Nothing against Falk – I think their scheme is a big-time scheme, and if you look since Leach has been there and all the quarterbacks he’s dealt with, they all have basically the same numbers. It is a genius scheme that gives a lot of high output for wide receivers, receiving-wise, and obviously quarterbacks, yardage-wise. I don’t think any of his quarterbacks haven’t played good. So I give a lot of credit to the coaching staff, and, obviously, Falk is a good player.”
(What allows them to complete so many passes?) “I guess it helps when you throw the ball 50-plus times a game, but also, they have a number of different routes that they can adjust to off of which coverage you’re in. So they basically have an answer for everything. You bring pressure, they’ve got an answer. You drop everybody, they’ve got an answer. You play this coverage, they have an answer. It’s a scheme they’ve done for a long, long time, so they know a lot of the answers to a lot of the challenges that defenses will give them.”
(Is it good that you’re facing a scheme like this in the last game of the season?) “Yeah, I think so, but you turn on every single tape, they run the same stuff, over and over and over again, and they’re really good at it. So it’s just one of those deals, we know it’s coming and we have to stop it. You just turn on any tape, they run the same thing. It’s not like different opponents where they’ll change their scheme and surprise you here or there. They really do what they do, and they do it really, really well.”
(Is this the kind of game a DB really looks forward to?) “Our guys can’t wait. This is such an unbelievable opportunity for us. Defensive backs, of course we like to stop the run and do all that, but we really want the ball thrown. That’s what we want. We’re more excited to play this game as opposed to like a Georgia Tech or an Air Force where they’re going to run the ball about 80 times. We know they’re going to throw it 50-plus times. It’s going to be a challenge. But that’s exactly what defensive backs want. We have that mentality that we want the ball thrown, and we want the opportunity to make plays.”
(Sidney Jones knew he would get a lot of action covering Chad Hansen when you guys played Cal. Same deal for him this week?) “The way their offense works, I don’t think they care one bit which corner or which safety is on any wideout. He is throwing to the open guy. He’s going to read the coverage and throw the ball. So both corners are going to get challenge. Everybody on the back end is going to get challenged. It’s an exciting challenge, and we can’t wait.”