Wrapping up Tuesday’s Huskies news with a few late-night links.
--- As the headline suggests, our story in today’s paper is about Kevin King and his new role as not only a cornerback, but a tall, rangy nickelback with three interceptions from that position already. An excerpt:
After Kevin King spent two seasons as a tall, skinny safety, Washington Huskies coaches decided it was best to move him to cornerback, the position he played from Pop Warner through high school.
And through UW’s first three games of the 2015 season, King has already produced, snagging a total of three interceptions – one each against Boise State, Sacramento State and Utah State.
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But none of them have come with King lined up at corner.
Instead, King, a junior from Oakland, grabbed all three interceptions from the nickel position, a spot where Huskies coaches believe he can be just as valuable as he is at corner, where he started UW’s past two games. His play has contributed to a UW pass defense that is tied for 16th nationally in yards-per-pass-attempt allowed (5.3) and 11th in opponent passer rating (91.85).
Huskies defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake said King’s length and athleticism — at 6-foot-3 and 183 pounds with long arms, he’s the ideal size to play corner — make him even more of a turnover threat at nickel, where he’s often matched up against smaller, shorter slot receivers.
In UW’s base defense with three linemen, four linebackers and four defensive backs, a linebacker would be responsible for covering the offense’s fifth receiver on a pass play. But when the Huskies take a linebacker off the field and replace him with King — with Sidney Jones and Darren Gardenhire at cornerback — the matchup can turn in their favor.
“I feel like it’s a great advantage, because we’re taking a linebacker out and putting the best athletes on the field to match up with their receivers,” Gardenhire said. “So they can’t really pick on anybody once he’s out there, because you can’t put a slot (against) a linebacker when there’s a nickel out there.”
--- The Bears are preparing for a tough assignment themselves. Here’s Cal coach Sonny Dykes on UW’s defense: “They had three first-round picks (last season). That’s pretty unique on one side of the ball at one time. But the guys who have taken their place are playing at a very high level, and they’re good football players. I don’t see much drop-off at all on their defense.”
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple