The first major scrimmage of the year is now behind us and the consensus opinion out there is that the Washington defense will be improved in 2012. The new schemes/leadership are important but the maturation of younger players on the roster seems to be the number one key to that improvement.
The number two reason seems to be the attitude produced by the new teaching technique. Nobody including me is going to rag on how the former defensive staff did things but we keep hearing that the new staff does a much better job of explaining things to the players so it seems to click better.
In other words all the yelling, grimacing, arm pumping, and what PLU's Frosty Westering used to call phoney psyche (see Jim Mora at UCLA) ran out of gas with this squad early last season. The new defensive staff seems to be more cerebral in their approach to teaching and that approach is working better with these players.
The defense has been winning most of the battles this spring but the real test doesn't start until the fall when the 2012 schedule begins. Currently this defense is running against an offense that is missing every starting offensive lineman from last season.
Colin Porter has retired, Colin Tanigawa is rehabbing his knee, Erik Kohler is rebuilding his strength after recovering from a staph infection, and Drew Schaefer is currently out for a week or two with a knee strain.
Back up QB's Derrick Brown and Thomas Vincent have played well this spring. Brown still has work to do on his footwork which is typical for a kid at this stage of his development. Brown is still raw but he is an impressive physical specimen with a lot of potential.
S Sean Parker is back after sitting out with some dings earlier in the week. He had an impressive interception and made a number of nice plays during the scrimmage. The coaches are counting on him to take over the leadership of the secondary this season.
ASJ, Michael Hartvigson, and Even Hudson have had great springs. As I said last week all three are capable of starting at Pac 12 programs this season. ASJ is really impressive and you would be hard pressed to find a better TE in the country.
The reps that the young offensive linemen are getting as starters this spring will pay big time dividends down the road. When the media asks Sark who he is most impressed with each day he keeps mentioning kids like Dexter Charles, Micah Hatchie, James Atoe, Ben Riva, and Mike Criste.
Andrew Hudson has been playing inside quite a bit this year. That position is usually filled by one of the bigger three techniques. We haven't heard a lot about Potoa'e or Tupou this spring so obviously Hudson has proven himself more effective.
Semisi Tokolahi is on the sidelines recovering from yet another foot surgery. When healthy he can play the nose or three. The coaches are quite confident that he will come back close to 100% this fall. If that happens he will have a big impact on this defensive front.
Senior walk on Tre Watson has played himself into the rotation at cornerback. Sr Adam Long is out there practicing again while trying to work his way back into the lineup after missing last season with a torn ACL.
Things are starting to click for Jarrett Finau. He has good size for a DE and he has shown the ability to get after the QB and stand up against the run. Talia Chichton also continues to impress. When Jamora returns this is going to be one of the deepest positions on the team.
This is a big week of practices which concludes with an open to the public scrimmage on Saturday in Memorial Stadium. This will be the first time this spring that the general public has had access to watch the team. The electricity of the crowd should produce a pretty entertaining practice to watch.
Raiders hire Napoleon Kaufman as team chaplain
"I'm so excited to officially be part of the Raiders organization once again," Kaufman said. "I've always considered myself a Raider and to be able to come back and serve the Silver and Black in this capacity is my privilege."
This has been a very busy spring for Kate and I. We both have had a tremendous amount of work to do which has limited our leisure time. Things should be getting back to normal after this week which means more football coverage from me going forward.
I want to thank all of our writers for providing so much great content this winter and spring. You guys have been fantastic and one of the things I want to do next week is set up a conference call with all of you so we can figure out what we want to do moving forward.
I had a meeting last week with the management of SBN and they had some great input as far as the direction we should be going and I want to share that with you guys.