Tag Archives: De’Shon Matthews

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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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 – 4/6/2010

I learned my lesson after the first two days of practice that I attended, dress warm.  So today I made my way over to the U District, put my North Face on over my long sleeve shirt, put my jacket on over my north face, put my beanie and gloves on and then began my trek over to the stadium.  To my surprise, it was a little warmer today than it was last week.  The wind wasn’t blowing as hard and the sun even poked through once or twice.  It was easily the most enjoyable practice of the year so far.

I arrived about 45 minutes late because of a guitar lesson but I think I only missed some stretching and position drills.  On my way to my usual spot on the sideline I noticed De’Shon Matthews in the trainers tent with ice on his calf muscle.  He didn’t participate in the rest of practice but the injury doesn’t look extremely serious.  Needless to say, the Huskies don’t need another defensive end hurt.  Hopefully, Matthews will be back soon.  Jordan Polk and Cody Bruns also did not participate in practice.  Polk is nursing a minor hamstring injury and no one seems to know why Bruns sat out.

Today was the teams first day in full pads.  This made for a chippy practice where the offensive and defensive guys really got after each other.  When a team gets to start tackling it’s pretty normal to see shoving matches start.  All of these were stopped right away but it showed a little fire from a team that was so lifeless a few years ago. 

A lot of the day was devoted to 11 on 11 scrimmaging.  Most of the day saw the defense dominate the running game and the offense dominate the passing game. 

There were a few changes in the lineup.  Anthony Boyles and Quinton Richardson were the cornerbacks for the starting unit.  Adam Long ran with the second team.  This is somewhat surprising from an outsider’s perspective but after watching 3 of the first 4 practices it seems pretty clear that Boyles and Richardson are playing at the highest level right now.  Vonzell McDowell also played as a nickel back with the first team defense at times.  Desmond Trufant is not participating in contact drills this spring.

Victor Aiyewa (who’s not allowed in too much contact either) and Alvin Logan are rotating at the strong-side linebacker spot.  I think either of these guys will be just fine at this position.  Logan appears to be very quick around the edge on defense and seems to blitz quite a bit.  I don’t think this position will be decided until just before the season starts.

The defensive line did quite a bit of rotating today.  It was hard to get a read on who the starters are but it looks as if Tyrone Duncan has worked his way into some playing time.  They also tried Cameron Elisara out at defensive end a few times today.

I don’t know if it means everything but Deontae Cooper was always the first person to get a carry in the 11 on 11 sessions.  All the running backs rotated almost every play so I wouldn’t look too much into this.  Cooper did look like the best out of the four running backs (Cooper, Callier, Fogerson, and Bronson) today.

Nick Montana looked like the best option as backup quarterback today.  This was easily his best day of practice.  Even if you weren’t watching it’s easy to tell when Montana throws a nice pass because the couple hundred  people watching generally get very excited.  Montana had a couple of those throws today, he was pretty impressive.

The play of the day goes to Jake.  A rush came from Jake’s right and he scrambled hard to his left.  Aguilar broke free from coverage and Locker threw a 50 yard completion that would’ve gone for a touchdown if they let it play out.  What was impressive is that Jake threw this 50 yard pass across his body while on the run.  I was standing by a reporter who said, “I don’t know if any other quarterback in the nation could do that.”  I have to agree.  I’ve seen Jake do some amazing things but that one might have topped the list.

My players of the day after the jump! Continue reading

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