April 24, 2009
The Husky defensive line will lean heavily on the play and leadership of Daniel Te'0-Nesheim in 2009. In order to take some of the pressure off Te'o, the Huskies are hoping that a couple players from the D-line emerge. One of the main candidates to help immensely on the line is junior Cameron Elisara. The Spokane native caught up with GoHuskies.com correspondent Jeremy Cothran recently and talked about the new staff and progress of the line this spring.
GoHuskies.com: Can you describe what it's like working with [Defensive Coordinator] Nick Holt and [Defensive Line Coach] Johnny Nansen as coaches?
Cameron Elisara: It's been a lot better. The energy has been great. All around, we're just having a lot more fun.
GH.com: Last year speaks for itself. What have both of those coaches brought in terms of attitude and intensity?
CE: They relate more to us. No disrespect to the coaches before, but I think they're connecting more with the kind of players that we are, and I think they are bringing out the better player in each one of us.
GH.com: What has it been like learning their schemes? Has it been pretty tough to digest?
CE: It's a lot of stuff to bring in, especially when there is a new D-coordinator coming in and trying to get used to that. I wouldn't say it's all new, though. A lot of defenses have the same concepts but different names. So, it hasn't been too bad.
GH.com: So have you been falling asleep with your playbook every night trying to memorize it?
CE: Yeah. We get our installs in and by the end of spring we'll be rock solid and we'll know everything by then.
GH.com: From right now to the start of spring practice, has it been night and day in terms of improvement?
CE: Oh yeah. There has been a lot from what I've seen. I'm starting to see a lot more competition, consistently, throughout practice. It's been good. I'm thinking that people are getting better and I'm excited to see where we'll be by the end.
GH.com: You talk about that improvement. What is the one thing you think that has changed the most from what you've seen.
CE: I think everybody is more excited to play. When you're more excited to do something, you're going to give more effort. It just makes for a better experience.
GH.com: So there is confidence there, knowing that this scheme has been successful at another school?
CE: You see that, and you think about that, and you take it into consideration, but I think it's just that everyone was surprised by last year and doesn't want it to happen again. I think you could have brought in a bunch of coaches from anywhere and our attitude would have been, `Hey, we're going to like these guys and we're going to assume that they're going to take us to the top.' But definitely these guys have a lot of credibility. And our attitudes, after last season, we're going to accept anything from any coach that we get and try to make it happen.
GH.com: Going back to the D-line, what is it like playing with Daniel Te'o-Nesheim?
CE: Daniel, never, never quits. There are times when you're tired, and you're breathing hard, and Daniel is breathing hard too, but he never stops and he's going full-speed, no matter how out-of-breath he is, he has enough to pick you up and say something to you. Daniel has one of the best motors I have ever seen, and it inspires you to play hard next to him, or else you look bad.
GH.com: So he's one of those guys with unlimited energy, huh?
CE: Sometimes you're really tired and looking at everyone else and they're tired, but then you look at Daniel and he's running around and you think, `What is wrong with this guy?' Also, he's a role model and he's a leader. He's not a guy of many words, but he speaks through his actions. You can take a lot from watching him play.
GH.com: What has it been like with the new strength coaches? We hear a lot about how difficult the workouts are.
CE: The guys who grow through Hell are the guys who didn't accept it right away. Because the punishment workouts are the one that really get to you.
GH.com: Punishment workouts? Describe them.
CE: Let's just say we have the whole team doing their team workouts, and then you have the punishment workouts going out on the side. And then you have the team staring at the guy thinking, `Man, I'm never going to be late.' I never want to be late; I never want to miss a workout because they put them through hell and back.
GH.com: How so?
CE: It's just constant...stuff you've never seen before. They're pushing a stack of weight plates on the ground, like a lawnmower. Or carrying them above your head and lunging 100 yards. It's like one thing, one after another. It's something I never want to do. I haven't done it yet, and I hope I don't.
GH.com: At this point right now, to the LSU game, what's one thing you and the rest of the D-line have to work on the most?
CE: We're going to work on getting together a lot. We've already talked about getting together before scrimmages during spring ball and just going over plays. We have got to pick up the defense. For some of the younger guys, there's a lot going through their heads. So we're going to try and build camaraderie, get together and get real close and get used to everyone's playing styles. We need to make sure the D-line is a strong point.
GH.com: So you're at the point where you feel comfortable pulling a younger teammate aside and coaching him up?
CE: Oh yeah. I've been here, man, this is my fourth year. Shoot. I'm not a young guy anymore. I think I have a real good grasp of what to do. Sometimes I don't always do it perfect, but I'm always trying. So I think I'm able to pull guys aside and tell them, hey, this is what you do. And they can always ask me and I'll help them out.
GH.com: Do you get the feeling you guys will surprise some people next year?
CE: There's definitely that feeling. It's going to be a surprise for other people, but not for us. We're going to come out and shock people. That's what we're working towards. We don't want to surprise ourselves and say, `Oh, man, are we winning right now?' Our new motto is `Expect to win.' We expect to win every game. We don't want to go from a 0-12 team to a team where it's a surprise if they win. We're going to expect to win.
GH.com: Now you grew up in Spokane. Were you a Huskies fan growing up at all?
CE: Oh no. My whole family went to Washington State. My dad played there, my brother played there and my mom went there.
GH.com: So how did you end up here at UW?
CE: I wanted to make my own path. Just because your family goes to Washington State doesn't mean I have to. It was an easy decision. It felt better here. I don't regret it at all. Every day is a better day. It was a little rough last year, and the years before, but through all of it I kept my head up and I'm glad that I'm here.