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.
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.