Tag Archives: Kalani Aldrich

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 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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