Remember when Washington was able to stop the run and sack the passer? You have to have a pretty good memory to remember the days when Washington would regularly keep an opposing team under 200 yards of total offense in a game.
The Washington defense which peaked during the day of Steve Emtman has been in a gradual slide since before the departure of Jim Lambright. Defense wins football games and a good defense always starts up front on the defensive line.
Going into 2009 the Huskies are coming off the worst two years of overall defense in the school's history. Defensive coordinator Nick Holt has a big task in front of him to stop the slide and start reversing the trend.
The good news on the defensive line is almost everyone returns. The bad news as they say is almost everyone returns. The glimmer of hope here is the returnee's are mostly young and were forced to learn on the job as true frosh last season.
The Washington defense had the least sacks in the league last season and if they are going to improve they need to get some pressure on the QB. Today we are going to take a close look at defensive end which just happens to be the resident position of one of the best players on the Husky roster.
DE Daniel Teo Nesheim is the premier player on the defensive line and he is one guy that could start for the majority of teams in the Pac 10 based on past play. Daniel returns for his senior season and will compete for league honors. He has a great motor, attitude, and work ethic. He is exactly the kind of guy Coach Holt is going to enjoy working with.
On the other side sophomore Everette Thompson and senior Darion Jones will compete for the starting job. Jones hasn't really broke through during his time at Montlake while Thompson really began to come on at the end of last season. It is hoped that a year in the weight room will make Everette who was one of the top recruits in the region a mainstay on the outside.
Jones played immediately as a frosh at LB but ended up getting injured. He redshirted the next year to put on the weight necesary to play DE. He was lost if the depth his sophomore year and last year came into camp with the starting job he eventually lost to Thompson.
Kalani Aldrich played for the first time last season and he has a lot of potential. The challenge he faces is putting on the weight needed to make an impact at the position. If he can grow into his frame he can make an impact.
Deshon Matthews came in pretty highly recruitied but despite the good wing span we haven't seen much out of him. Last spring they had him at starting dfensive tackle but by fall he all but disapeared in the depth chart.
The new coaches recognized the need for talent at this position and tried to bring in some immediate JC help. In the end they ended up with only one true DE in incoming frosh Talia Chrichton who will arive this fall. The coaches are very high on Talia and feel he has the ability to compete for immediate playing time.
Andru Pulu from Federal Way is a kid that could eventually play here too but the coaches are going to start him out at MLB to see how he moves. The film we saw on him last year was great.
The consensus opinion at DE is Washington lacks the horses this season in its depth to be as competitive as they would like. Teo Nesheim is a potential all league performer with a NFL future and Thompson should grow into something special. Behind them is nothing but question marks which the coaches need to develop.
For Washington to be succesful up front in 2009 they are going to have to create enough of a threat at the other three positions to keep teams from keying on Daniel Teo Nesheim the entire game. If they are able to free him up more he can create some damage against opposing offenses.