Tag Archives: Cameron Elisara

Filling the Holes – Defense Line

The off-season and Spring symbolizes one thing in college football: Hope.  Hope that your team will get better or repeat the success of last year.  With the Washington football team, there’s a good amount of reason to hope.  We’re entering our 3rd year under a new coaching staff and that is when you see the argument of playing with “the old coaches players'” go out the window.  As Bob Condotta notes in a recent post, this is Sarkisian’s team now.

With that, comes getting to know a few players who will fill in where graduates left.  On defense, the Huskies lose three significant players, along with a few role players.  Here’s who they lose and who will fill the hole that has been left:

Defensive End

Who’s Gone: De’Shon Matthews
Matthews had an interesting career at UW.  He red-shirted his freshman year and showed a good amount of promise in the Spring game and Fall camp, he played sparingly his red-shirt freshman year.  In this time, because of a lack of depth at defensive tackle, Willingham decided that a 260 lb. freshman switch positions was a good idea.  It wasn’t.  From there on out, no one really heard from Matthews.  This year he played a little bit.  With injuries at defensive end, Matthews got some time towards the end of the year and got a start in the Holiday Bowl.  He played well at times, but the Dawgs have better players than him on the roster.

The New Guys:
The Huskies already have some players that have filled in at this spot.  Led by Talia Crichton, Everrette Thompson, Hau’oli Jamora (along with a few backups such as Kaleni Aldrich), most of the players you’ll see at this position next year will look familiar.  There are two guys who will make an impact who red-shirted this year, Andrew Hudson and Josh Shirley.

Hudson came to UW from California in last year’s recruiting class.  It came as a surprise that Hudson red-shirted this year.  He was thought to be the most physically ready of all incoming freshman defensive ends, but it was decided that he should red-shirt and put some weight on.  The roster lists him as only 230 lbs. but he has gotten bigger since then.  The coaches raved about him during bowl practices and said they see him making an impact next year.

Josh Shirley had a confusing road to Washington.  Shirley decided between UCLA and UW on signing day last year and Huskies fans were let down when he picked UCLA.  Then, Shirley ran into some legal trouble in his couple weeks at UCLA, was kicked off the team and immediately transferred to Washington.  Many thought he’d be a linebacker, but the coaches moved him to defensive end.  He was also thought to make an immediate impact, but that didn’t end up happening.  Shirley wasn’t big enough to play right away at defensive end so he took the year to develop.  He was raved about by the end of the year and will be a quick threat off the edge next year.  Expect him to make a big impact in the pass rush.

Defensive Tackle:

Who’s Gone:  Cameron Elisara
Elisara was another guy with an interesting career as a Husky.  He came to UW as a highly rated recruit but never really developed into that guy.  Blame it on a series of stingers that eventually ended his career a few games early.  The Huskies have already dealt with the loss of Elisara and it won’t greatly affect them because of the Alameda Ta’amu and Semisi Tokolahi combination.  I always have felt a little bad for Cameron.  It always seemed that when he would take a step forward he would suffer some nagging injury that would take him out.

The New Guys:
As I mentioned, the main guys at this position are Alameda Ta’amu and Semisi Tokolahi.  I also wouldn’t be surprised if Everrette Thompson moves back inside because of the depth at end.  There are two guys that I think will make an impact that we didn’t hear much from this year, Sione Potoae and Lawrence Lagafuiana.

Sione came to UW as the biggest defensive line commit in recent memory (think Danny Shelton this year, only more hype).  Because of a lack of depth at the position, Sione was forced into playing time.  He wasn’t dominated but he also did it make a big impact for the Dawgs.  Another year of development in the weight room and in practice could turn him into the player his potential suggests he can be.  If he can take a step forward like Tokolahi did this year, the Huskies will have their best group of defensive tackles in over a decade.

Lawrence Lagafuiana is a mammoth man.  He is only 6 feet tall but came to UW weighing about 35o lbs.  He has dropped weight since then, but still takes up a lot of room inside.  He is said to have lots of strength in his lower body, and with his weight he should be able to move people around.  He will add depth next year and will get some playing time.

I’m not including incoming freshmen in this because Matthew recently wrote a series of posts about them.  There are some intriguing commits that could be put in these positions though.  I’ll be back with linebackers and safety soon.

Thanks for reading!

Andrew

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Huskies Post Game: Syracuse

The Huskies got their first win of the year last night at Husky Stadium against Syracuse, 41-20. The Dawgs’ struggled early on; there wasn’t any offensive rhythm and special team’s mistakes led to an early 10-0 lead for the Orange.  But, then the Huskies found it.  They played like the team we had planned on seeing this year.  They outscored Syracuse 41-10 through the rest of the game and it wasn’t much of a contest after the first couple plays in the second half.

Jermaine Kearse had a monster day (9 receptions for 179 yards), as the offense used big plays to dominate.  The defense was solid too.  They gave up two or three big plays but the two touchdowns Syracuse scored were because of a special teams penalty and a turnover.

I’ll review this one by taking a look at each position.  I haven’t been able to find a replay anywhere yet, FSN decided to show a replay of Wyoming and Texas instead, so I won’t be as thorough as I’d like to be but these were my first impressions from being there.  Continue reading

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UW Huskies Defensive Preview

In 2009, the Husky defense was frustratingly inconsistent.  Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and Donald Butler, possibly its two best players, both graduated, but there is a lot of hope the defense will be greatly improved in 2010.  This is due partly to a dominating end to last season, holding WSU and Cal to 10 points in the final two games, but it’s also based on the potential maturation of a young group.

Defensive End

Starters:

Everette Thompson:  Thompson sounds like he’s recovered from an offseason achilles injury just in time, and stands to be one of the most important pieces of the defense.  A highly touted recruit, he’s spent time at tackle as well.  He’s bigger than most Husky D ends in recent memory, which will hopefully aid in the run defense.  It’s even more vital that he contribute in replacing some of Te’o-Nesheim’s record-number sacks.

Talia Crichton:  A true sophomore, Crichton played more than anyone likely anticipated last year, with decent results.  Hard to say what to expect from him, but coaches have been impressed with his improvement this fall.  He seems to be more of a pass rusher, which this defense desperately needs.

Depth: Kalani Aldrich, De’shon Matthews, Hau’oli Jamora, Josh Shirley.  Aldrich is trying to recover from knee surgery, but has decent potential if he can get back all the way.  He’d have contended for a starting spot if not for the injury.  Matthews is a former big time recruit who’s never really made an impact.  He has one last shot and is in position for a lot of minutes as the number one back-up.  Jamora and Shirley are true freshman.  Jamora is in the two-deeps and will play.  Shirley is more heralded, but joined the team late and seems to be having a tough transition to end from high school linebacker.  He’s likely to redshirt, but if he progresses and they’re needing a speed rusher, who knows.

Analysis:  This is one of the toughest positions on the team to call.  There’s potential, to be sure, but the only one who inspires real confidence is Thompson, and he’s coming off major surgery.  This group has to get pressure on the quarterback this year.  Hopefully they’ll be aided in that by an improved interior of the line.

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Huskies Practice Report – 4/15/2010

We passed the halfway point of spring practice today.  It was the Dawgs’ eighth practice of the year and they have fifteen total (including the spring game).  Today the team was in shorts, shoulder pads, and helmets; apparently taking it easy before the usual Saturday scrimmage.  It was an absolutely beautiful day in Seattle today and I might have come away with a sunburn, which is just fine by me.  Before heading down to the stadium I bought some iced tea and two Choco Tacos (Choco Tacos are the most under-rated snack/dessert of all time.  Seriously, I could eat 5 without any problem.  They are perfect for a warm day like this was.  Choco Tacos are one of those small things that you have to cherish.  Like the movie Zombieland has taught us, it’s the little things in life that make it grand and Choco Tacos are the grandest of the little things.  Go buy one.).  It felt like Summer and it was glorious.

There were no new injuries today.  Jordan Polk is still struggling with a hamstring injury and he played sparingly.  Cody Bruns and D’Andre Goodwin are also out so the depth at receiver isn’t very strong right now.

During drills today I tried to watch the offensive and defensive line more so that I’d have something different to report.  I don’t know a ton about the lines but I came away with a few observations.

  • Senio Kelemente is going to be really good.  He could become a pretty good NFL prospect by this time next year.  It’s clear he’s the best on the line for a number of reasons but when he does get beat by a defensive lineman (this hardly happens) the defensive players celebrate a little bit more.  Talia beat him once in a one-on-one drill today and then they went up against each other the very next play.  Talia got knocked down twice and never did get to the target.  Don’t mess with Senio!
  • Skyler Fancher still appears a step slow and rusty.  He is coming off an injury so I imagine that he’s still getting going but if he looks like this in the Fall I’m not sure how much he’ll play with the return of Cody Habben and incoming freshman.
  • Mykena Ikehara is pretty impressive.  He still looks a little small but he also looks like UW’s second best offensive lineman.  He can play either guard or center, right now they have him at center.
  • De’Shon Matthews was impressive today.  He beat Fancher around the edge 3 different times.  I’ve said this before but I don’t know why he was playing defensive tackle before.  I know there wasn’t much depth when Ty moved him but if he had stuck at DE I get the feeling that he really could have been something special.
  • Talia Critchon is still a little small but his speed is impressive.  If he puts a little more weight on I think he could be pretty successful next year.
  • After watching closer today, I’m a little more worried about Cameron Elisara’s speed at DE.  I don’t know if he can beat people around the edge but time will tell.

As for the rest of the team, it was the usual suspects who put up good performances.  Both of the freshman running backs put up some really solid, long runs.  It is worth coming out to a practice just to watch these two.  They will make you excited about the future of Husky football. 

The defense had it’s way most of the day.  I don’t recall a touchdown today in the team session.  The linebackers and secondary continue to impress.  If anyones trying to lock up their starting job by fall camp it’s Nate Fellner.  He continues to make good plays and more importantly doesn’t make any bad ones.  Will Shamburger also made some really good hits from the safety position today.  All of a sudden depth at safety looks to be a really strong point for this Husky team. 

Just a few more thoughts after the jump. Continue reading

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Huskies Practice Report – 4/8/2010

Practice was moved in doors today because of the weird hail storms taking place.  Practice indoors is a kind of nice change, at least for the fans.   It’s a lot warmer in there but there isn’t as much space.  The coaches still make it work pretty well with the limited space.

Practice was interesting today.  Along with being inside, there were a ton of important people there.  We had our first Joe Montana sighting of the spring.  I admit, I was a little star struck when I ended up standing within a few feet of him and his wife.  Every time he walked by, I could hear the people around me start to whisper about him.  He wasn’t treated any differently than a normal fan, standing behind the rope and watching.  Along with Joe Montana I saw Dick Baird, Mark Emmert and Scott Woodward.  There seemed to be quite a few alumni there as well.  It didn’t stop with the celebrities though, there were about 15 recruits there.  I couldn’t place them all but most of them were from this years class. 

Zach Banner (2012 mega recruit) was there again and I overheard him say that his top 3 are UW, Oregon, and USC.  He took an unnoficial visit to Eugene last week and was really impressed with their campus and facilities.  He also raved about UW’s coaches, specifically Sark and the strength coach.  I heard all of this while he was talking to a couple of friends.  Banner 6-7, 295 lbs. and he’s only a sophomore in high school.  He will be one of the highest rated offensive line recruits in the county in a couple of years.

With all of these things going on it was a little bit hard to concentrate in practice.  Like Tuesdays practice, a lot of today was focused on 11 on 11 drills. 

The backup quarterbacks continue to grow every practice.  Nick Montana was the better of the backups on Tuesday but I think Price was better today.  In a two-minute 7-on-7 drill Price was very effective and completed all but one or two of his passes.  After watching a little closer this week, it might not be Price’s arm that hurts him, it might be his footwork.  He kind of bounces from right to left at times instead of looking fluid in his steps.  It’s obvious that he’s eager to learn and works hard.  Him and Montana ask a lot of questions to Jake and Nuss which is great to see.

The running game got going a little bit today.  It looked way more impressive than it did on Tuesday.  Fogerson was impressive today, he ran over some guys.  Callier had a nice run that he bounced outside for about 30 yards.  Cooper had the run of the day though.  The line opened up a huge hole for him and once he got into the secondary he showed off his speed.  Cooper took it into the end zone for about a 60 yard touchdown. 

Senio Kelememte is going to be great at tackle.  I think he’ll be the offensive lineman the Huskies have.  He’s really quick as a tackle and has pretty good size.  Moving him to tackle was definitely the right move by the coaching staff. 

Cameron Elisara continues to get a lot of reps at defensive end.  He looks pretty good there.  I worry a little bit about him having enough speed for that position.  Everyone knows he’s extremely strong but whether he has enough speed off the end has yet to be seen.

After watching these practices it seems that the Huskies will use a nickel defense a lot more this year (defense with 3 cornerbacks and 2 linebackers).  They hardly ever went to it with last year but I see it a lot in practice and it makes sense.  I never thought I’d say this but the Huskies best position may be cornerback (besides wide receiver).  They have 5 guys back there who I would feel fairly comfortable with starting in the secondary. 

Clarence Trent has given up football.  He was never really a factor in his 4 practices with the team but it was nice to have an extra body out there.  I hope he has an excellent basketball career.

Demetrius Bronson looked pretty good while playing some at fullback today.  I’d read that he’s up to 230 lbs. and I saw him throw some impressive blocks today.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they moved him to fullback permanently.  This will be an interesting story to watch through the rest of spring.

The Huskies are having a scrimmage on Saturday at noon.  It sounds like they’ll treat it as a real game and it should be fun to see who the coaches have in starting and such.  I’m really looking forward to seeing these guys in a game situation.  A few of the Good Guys should be there so leave a comment or something if you plan on going and we can talk sports with you! Or you could find Joe Montana and talk with him instead but I’m sure we’re much more exciting….

Thanks for reading!

Andrew

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Huskies Position Overviews – Defensive Line

Before I go into the defensive line, I want to add a little about Matthew’s Husky basketball post earlier today.  After watching many disappointing games (there have been many great games too) with my brother, I think that we deal with losses similarly.  We both get fairly upset (I know it’s just a game) and that is fairly evident after the game.  After a while we’ll get back to our bad jokes and act like ourselves but it takes a few hours at least.  All this to say, I’m not going to rehash this game either.  Maybe Joe or Dan will and I’m sure they’d do a better job than me; but in a season of memorable games this is one that I don’t want to remember.  This was one of my favorite Husky teams of all time and it has been a great year.  We got beat last night but I’m proud to wear a Husky shirt and this team only made me more proud.

On to the defensive line.  I’ll use the same format as I did for the offensive line on this position overview.  The defensive line is a little thin on depth right now and it’s a little bit hard to predict the starters but I’ll give it my best shot.  I’m sure we’ll know more after spring practices about this group.

Starters

  • Defensive Tackles:  Cameron Elisara, 6-3, 280, SR.  Alameda Ta’amu, 6-3, 340, JR.
  • Defensive Ends:  Everette Thompson, 6-6, 265, JR.  Talia Critchon, 6-3, 240, SO.

Cameron Elisara has been sporadic through his Husky career.  I can’t really believe that he’s going to be a senior.  He has struggled with injuries throughout his time here and wasn’t a consistent contributor until last year.  Elisara is as strong as an ox; he is the best weight lifter on the team.  Although he struggled through a series of neck stingers last year, Elisara had his best year as a Husky.  This spring he needs to concentrate on staying healthy and steady improvement.  Cameron has progressed nicely and that should continue. 

Alameda Ta’amu is huge.  Believe it or not, he has actually lost weight since coming to Montlake.  Ta’amu had an interesting year last year.  Through the beginning of the year he was often substituted for a quicker Everette Thompson.  As the year progressed and Elisara dealt with injuries, Ta’amu came on strong.  He had a very strong last two games against WSU and Cal.  If Ta’amu is in good shape and improves his agility he could become an all pac-10 caliber player.  He was too slow against quick offensive lines last year (Oregon and USC come to mind) but if he improves on that he will be U-Dub’s best defensive tackle.

Everette Thompson is good.  He started about 6 games his freshman year and then suffered an injury last year heading into the season.  He was then switched to defensive tackle because of the lack of efficiency that was coming out of that position.  His speed was useful there but now will be switched back to defensive end to make up for the loss of Daniel Teo-Nesheim.  Unfortunately, Thompson suffered an Achilles injury during winter workouts and will be held out of spring practices.  It’s unclear exactly how long Everette will be out; Achilles injuries are nasty.  When Thompson is healthy and on the field he has the most upside of any UW lineman.

Talia Critchon is my starter by default here.  He played last year as a true freshman and was pushed around quite a bit.  He is undersized but coaches like his speed.  This last defensive end position is up for grabs and I’d say Critchon has the early edge because he’s healthy and participating in spring unlike other guys.

The backups

  • Defensive Tackles: Chris Robinson, Semisi Tokolahi, Tyrone Duncan
  • Defensive Ends:  De’Shon Matthews, Andre Pulu, Kalani Aldrich

As you can see, there’s not a ton of depth here.  Chris Robinson didn’t play last year and no one really knows what he can do, watch for his name in the spring.  Tokolahi is a huge guy, 340 lbs., and played during goal line situations as a freshman last year.  He is similar in size to Ta’amu but doesn’t have the speed yet.  He wasn’t entirely healthy throughout the year so that may have had an impact on him.  Tyrone Duncan adds depth but hasn’t seen the field much in his time here.  All of these guys will have a chance to prove themselves at tackle this spring since there simply aren’t enough guys here.

De’Shon Matthews has switched between end and tackle throughout his career here.  Holt said in an interview the other day that Matthews will start at end because of the Thompson injury.  I think Matthews has the ability to surprise here.  Willingham played him out of position as an underweight tackle.  Now, He can take advantage of his speed and doesn’t have to worry about being as heavy.  Andre Pulu is having legal trouble and won’t be participating in spring because of this.  I don’t think Pulu will be on this team come Fall.  Kalani Aldrich has shown potential but has had knee problems.  He will also sit out this spring.

Overall Position:  The defensive line is the biggest cause for concern on this team.  It doesn’t help that three defensive ends are out for spring practice.  3 of our 4 starters could be very good but the Huskies will need someone to step up into that last defensive end position.  The quantity and quality of the depth needs to improve here and will with new freshman.  I could see us playing a couple true freshman on the defensive line which is never ideal.  Maybe this group will surprise me but it could very easily be the weak link of the Huskies positions.

Andrew

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