April 9, 2009
The Husky linebacking corp has emerged as one of the strengths of the defense this spring. With four experienced players -- Donald Butler, Mason Foster, E.J. Savannah and Trenton Tuiasosopo -- the linebackers will be counted on for leadership and play-making skills in 2009. So far, the group has lived up to the billing. One of the three seniors in the group, Donald Butler, talked with GoHuskies.com correspondent Benton Strong recently. Here is the Q&A:
GoHuskies.com: The linebackers got significant action against the underneath passes on Monday. What was that like for the group?
Donald Butler:The offense got some new stuff in today. We got some new stuff. They were working on their intermediate passes. A lot of that is on the linebackers. We've got to be there to play the middle, play the outside and play those routes coming out of the backfield. They kind of got us at the end.
GH.com: How are you embracing the leadership role in your final spring practice?
DB: It's my last year. More importantly it comes with playing middle linebacker. You're the leader of the defense. The guys look to you to give them accolades when they make a good play or get on them when they don't make a good play.
GH.com: How is the entire veteran core of linebackers doing in that regard?
DB: Whenever you're out there making plays on the field guys are looking to you thinking, `well what is he doing to be out there on the field to make plays like that.'I think everybody has embraced that, from E.J. [Savannah] to Trenton [Tuiasosopo] to Mason [Foster]. And Mason is going to be a junior so he's still young, but he's got a lot of playing experience.
GH.com: Four linebackers have significant game experience. What does that do to the competition for a starting spot?
DB: That just makes us that much better. When you have four guys that can all be on the field and make plays to contribute to the success of the team that makes you better. Our defense is putting pressure on each other at every practice every day and if you're not going to get it done there is another guy that will.
GH.com: What have you seen so far in the spring that has you encouraged?
DB: The daily competition, ones-on-ones and the finishing at the end. Last year at the end of games guys weren't finishing. Guys were tired. We finish practice with competitions, ones-on-ones, and I think that is just going to make us that much better.
GH.com: You finally got to see some sun. How was that?
DB: It's great. We were practicing in 40-45 degree weather and then we come out here and it's 60 or 70. It kind of got to us a little bit. Guys were winded, but hopefully it will stay this way.