Spoke for a bit today with Huskies defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake, who talked about defending a Washington State team that might throw 60-70 passes.
(On the Apple Cup) “It’s a huge deal. A lot of these guys we recruited also. They’re in-state guys that we know about. Our players know their players. They know our players. It’s definitely a different feeling. There’s a lot of family rivalries involved, too, around the state, my neighbors. There’s a lot riding on this. It’s a huge, huge game, our guys understand the implications of this thing, and they’re ready to go.”
(Seems like they have a lot of receivers who are good in space) “They really do. They have a talented receiving corps. I give a lot of credit to Mike Leach, also. Wherever he’s been, whether it’s Texas Tech or Wazzu, they have highly productive offenses. He puts his receivers in good position to make plays. He makes it easy for the quarterback to deliver the ball and get it out. And then you put that together with some talented guys like Marks and Dom Williams on the other side, and they are tough to deal with.”
(What did you do to succeed against them last season?) “It was still a hard-fought game, even though the score (was) the way it was – they moved the ball. These guys move the ball. They’re the No. 1 pass offense in the country for two years straight now, and so we ended up making some plays on the football. We played a physical game. We tackled really well. And really it comes down to getting pass breakups and interceptions, and we did that when it mattered.”
(On Gerard Wicks and WSU’s running game) “Yeah, they’re running the ball really well. What they do a good job of is, you’re dialed in, you’re thinking about the pass, thinking about the pass, and all of a sudden, if you donate too many guys to stop the pass, they run the ball. It’s really vice-versa of what everybody else does in the country. Everybody else establishes the run, establishes the run, then they try to hit you. These guys are the other way. They’re hucking it down the field, kind of nitpicking you apart, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, and all of a sudden, when you drop everybody, they hand it off to Wicks and he roars for a big gain. It’s definitely a different animal that we’re facing this week. We’ve had a good couple days of practices here. We’ve got to finish strong and make sure we play good on Friday.”
(Do you get the sense that the defensive backs embrace the challenge of playing a team that throws this often?) “They’re excited. From a DB perspective, we’d definitely rather play an offense like this than play an Air Force or a Georgia Tech, that’s for sure – which that’s an unbelievable challenge there, those two teams. But from a DB perspective, this is fun. It’s challenging. It’s an awesome scheme with really good players, talented quarterbacks – and I’ll tell you what, again, I give a lot of credit to Coach Leach and that offensive staff. Connor Halliday threw for a billion yards last year. No one knew who (Luke) Falk was, and all of a sudden he comes in and he throws for a billion yards this year. If Falk plays, he’s going to try to throw for a billion. If he doesn’t, we’re fully expecting this other guy, Bender, to come in there and just pick up where the last quarterback left off. It’s a really great scheme. They do an awesome job of coaching those guys. It’s going to be a big challenge.”