October 10, 2008

Donatell Discusses Defense

Washington Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell discussed the goals for the Husky defense in during the bye week.

"We want to play a lot better in the second half. We want to teach our guys to see better. Once our guys start seeing better, I think we're going to play better. Keep increasing communication on the field, so we play better together. We need to be better technique players. We want to make strides with our front seven guys, hitting blocks. So forth, that's been an area where we haven't been good."

The Husky defense entered the Arizona game having recorded no sacks on the season. However junior defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim registered three sacks on the night, giving Washington three for the season.

"I think I did say that we'll get our sack on a regular four-man rush. That's how I thought it would happen, because in this generation when people put pressure, there are so many release valves - screens and check offs. I thought it was going to be someone going one-on-one, and it was. Daniel won three of those. They were great rushes. Now we've got to get some other guys to chime in and get that thing increased. I've got to chime in and give them a call that gets them there. We all kind of pitch in to get that down, but that was nice to see that. It's nice to get you off of the field, but we've got to get blocks better up front."

Donatell gave a little insight to his mindset regarding the current situation with the Huskies.

"We want to do whatever we can do to help these guys be better football players. This is a time when you can get down on yourself, feel bad about a couple of breaks here and there. Or you can say it's an opportunity to take each individual guy, look at it and say here's a plan for success for you. That's really what our intent is right now."

Sophomore safety Nate Williams has struggled somewhat this season. However, Donatell discussed how it may be more the situation Williams is in, rather than his play specifically.

"I've been pleased with Nate Williams. This guy has had a tough load, because he's been working with a different guy every week. That's a stress on a player that people don't think about. That can put a strain on his play. Who knows to what degree - I'm not making excuses, but I'm saying that guy has done that. He's been our guy back there quarterbacking, he's been the one mainstay guy. We need to keep those communicator guys in the ballgame, that helps."

"Sophomore safety Victor Aiyewa, who's been battling a groin injury throughout Fall camp and into the first few weeks of the season, played his first significant minutes of the year.

"That's the first time he's played in the Pac-10 as a defensive back. We get to different points in the season and you think everybody else has been playing, but he hasn't. He hasn't even really been practicing much. It's not like he's a rookie that's been practicing all of the way through. He's been out of commission. He got back to practice last week, and he was thrown in there. The speed and the angles [of an actual game] - when it's fast, it's different. It's similar to when Johri [Fogerson] got thrown in there against Oklahoma. It's coming at you pretty hard."

The safety position has been a tough one for the Huskies this season, with the majority of players at the position suffering injuries. With Aiyewa back and Fogerson nearly healed form an ankle injury, will the coaching staff establish positions amongst the rotation?

"We'd like to, but the way it is, they all need to play until somebody surfaces. Somebody's got to grab that position in my opinion."

A comment was made by one of the Arizona players, that Washington's defense had given up by halftime. Donatell discussed the comment.

"I really can only think about our comments and our observations. If somebody feels that way, we feel bad, we don't want anybody to feel that way. That's an inditement on us. We certainly wouldn't want to feel that way watching us play football. Our goal is the opposite of that. Our goal is for him to walk off and say this was a hard bunch of guys, got after my butt every second, and I want to get out of here. He didn't say that, so we want to change that."

Donatell had this to say when asked if the rumors surrounding Head Coach Tyrone Willingham's future affect the younger plays on the team, specifically the true freshman.

"You'd have to ask them. I still think it goes back to who's leading your team. Tyrone is a guy that is full speed ahead. His only intent is to help kids and help this football team. Everything he does is on a point with that - our staff follows from there. Right now, anybody can say, hey it's a tough time - that's right, but that's what we signed up for. When you sign up for this profession, there's going to be some tough days. But you keep working and things get better. That's what we do, that's the only way to get better, is do the right things right. Is it harder to get focused in this kind of situation? Possibly. There's things around you that can be distracting, that's why we've got to be better leaders. Everything he [Willingham] has is toward getting that W, that's what his intent is. I don't know how anything can help. Thinking about what didn't go right or what you don't have going for you, I don't think ever helps."

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