May 1, 2009
With spring practice officially in the books, Coachsark.com had a chance to catch up this morning with Mike Anderson, the new defensive graduate assistant. Coach Anderson grew up in Lewiston, Idaho, and graduated from Lewiston High School in 2001. A three-sport standout in high school, he walked on at Idaho and became a three-year starter at linebacker and defensive end. As a sophomore, he led the Vandals in tackles and set a conference record for tackles in a game (24) against New Mexico State. Anderson graduated from Idaho with degrees in marketing and finance in 2006. He and his wife, Alyson, a former soccer player at Idaho, married in 2007. They live in Seattle.
Q: What was your connection at Washington or with this coaching staff?
A: There were a few, actually. I played two years for Coach Holt (2004-05) at Idaho and I worked with Coach Nansen at Idaho last year. Coach Nansen was the one who recommended me for the job. Also, I'd met Coach Sark briefly when I worked at one of USC's camps after I got done playing.
Q: What was it like playing for Coach Holt?
A: He's great to play for, very aggressive. You have to have thick skin to play for him, but you're always learning. He's very detailed; for how intense he seems, he's actually a very detail-oriented coach.
Q: You played against Washington in Husky Stadium three times (2002, '03, and '05) during your career at Idaho. What do you remember about those games?
A: I remember the crowd being unbelievable - just how loud the stadium was. It was so loud the field actually shook. It vibrated. Also, it was one of the most intimidating walks to the field I've ever had - just walking down that tunnel and seeing all the bowls (placards) on the side.
Q: Who has been your biggest coaching influence?
A: Coach Holt, without a doubt. From the two years I was a player for him until now, he taught me how to compete on a daily basis for everything in my life. That's the biggest lesson I learned from him - how to compete.
Q: Having grown up in Idaho and worked at Washington State, did you have any trouble switching allegiances?
A: Well, both my parents went to Wazzu, so I grew up "kind of" a Cougar fan. But UW was always such a national program - a big-time program - it was really a no-brainer to come here. This is a Top 10 program and to have the opportunity to come here and help build something was an easy choice. So, no.
Q: What was your first impression of the defense when you arrived?
A: I was pleasantly surprised. Donald Butler, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Mason Foster, Quinton Richardson, Nate Williams ... we have a really solid crew. Now, we just need to build the depth.
Q: You're working mostly with Coach Cox and the linebackers, what about them?
A: Our starters are very good. I think collectively our starting linebackers can be one of the best groups in the Pac-10.
Q: Okay. I'm going to give you a few names. Tell me the first thing that pops into your head: Donald Butler?
A: Overall talent.
Q: Mason Foster?
A: Great pass rusher.
Q: E.J. Savannah?
A: Playmaker. Very instinctive.
Q: Who has been the most improved linebacker this spring?
A: Mason. He got a lot better using his hands and being aggressive as a pass rusher and taking on blocks.
Q: What was the biggest teaching emphasis with the linebackers this spring?
A: Just being aggressive and attacking the line of scrimmage - also using their hands as weapons and overall tackling.
Q: Speaking of practice, you've been around several head coaches, from Tom Cable at Idaho to Bill Doba at WSU. How do Coach Sark's practices compare?
A: They're well-organized and up-tempo. There's a lot of coaching on the run, but at the same time, details are very important.
Q: Some people might be wondering what a graduate assistant coach does in the program. What's your day-to-day routine?
A: It depends if we're in-season or out-of-season. Out-of-season, like right now, I'll do a lot of film work, make cut-ups, break down the season and spring ball, assist with most areas of recruiting and assist the defensive and special teams coordinators on projects. If we're in-season, I'll do a lot of prep work for practices and meetings. I'll also help break down future opponents and do some self-scouting and playbook adjustments. There's always plenty to keep us busy.
Q: Last, what should Husky fans expect to see from the defense next season?
A: Hopefully, a very aggressive defense that runs and hits. That will be our trademark.