Urgency Already Here For Trufant, Huskies' Defense
Oct. 23, 2012
SEATTLE - Two of the best receivers in the Pac-12, if not the nation, are coming Desmond Trufant's way again this weekend.
So is Oregon State's second-best pass offense in the league, behind only the one from Arizona that flew past UW last weekend. And the seventh-ranked Beavers have starting quarterback Sean Mannion returning this week from weeks out with a knee injury.
Yet the Huskies cornerback and defensive co-captain has another reason that trumps all others for his urgency about Saturday's 7:15 p.m. homecoming game for his Huskies (3-4, 1-3 Pac-12) against Oregon State (6-0, 4-0) at CenturyLink Field.
"Five games left. I mean, it's unreal to think about, now that I am a senior," Trufant said after Tuesday morning's chilly practice.
"Five games. I just want to finish strong. They remember what you do last."
That's exactly why he and the Huskies defense can't wait until Saturday.
Arizona's zooming, spread offense averaged 18.3 yards per completion last weekend against Washington. That was the most UW had allowed per catch in 41 games, since Oct. 3, 2009, in an overtime loss at Notre Dame early in coach Steve Sarkisian's first season.
To make the lost night in the desert more frustrating, Arizona also ran for 277 yards.
Tuesday, UW's defense was saying the eyes have it.
"It was obviously a real disappointing game in a lot of areas. We didn't finish very many plays, and gave up some runs and some passes either because of eye discipline or not making tackles," defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said.
The first-year architect of what had been a resurgent defense counted 19 missed tackles at Arizona, by far Washington's most this season. Wilcox also said three huge pass plays for the Wildcats, including the 53-yard touchdown pass that made it 31-10 Wildcats in the second quarter, came because UW lacked "disciplined eyes."
Wandering ones in the secondary looked in places other than assigned men or areas.
"We can't make technique errors and we can't have bad eyes in the secondary," Trufant said. "That's something we can control. We've got to make plays when they present themselves.
"It comes back to us."
Especially this week.
The Huskies' secondary - coached by Keith Hayward, who until January was Oregon State's secondary coach - must find ways to control Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks. Many compare the Beavers' big-play receivers favorably to USC's top duo of Robert Woods and Marqise Lee.
Trufant held Lee, considered a candidate to win national receiver of the year awards, to a career low-tying two catches on Oct. 13.
Trufant says there are key differences with Wheaton and Cooks, who are two-three behind Lee in the conference averaging 111 and 109 yards receiving per game, respectively. He notes USC runs Woods and Lee on more horizontal routes across the field, more bubble screens and shorter routes to get the ball in their hands for catches and runs.
"They like home runs," Trufant said. "They are going to take their shots and try to throw bombs down the field.
The Huskies' leader with 42 consecutive starts then hit on something that would help his secondary's effort against the Beavers and Mannion.
"We've got to put pressure on him," he said.
Washington didn't get a sack at Arizona last week. The one time the Huskies got to Matt Scott, rush end Josh Shirley nailed him into a deflected interception that Travis Feeney returned to the 6. That got Washington briefly back into the game, to within 31-17 at halftime.
The Huskies' nine sacks in seven games rank last in conference.
Shirley thinks it's all about the motor for UW's pass rush.
"It's all about how hard you play," he said.
Oregon State, the nation's most unexpected undefeated team, offers plenty of incentive to maximize the effort
"It's great competition. We are going against two of the best in the conference," Trufant said. "It's definitely a challenge - to the secondary, not just me but everybody.
"We've got to be on our game, definitely."
INSIDE THE DAWGS: Players and coaches noted the increased intensity and physicality of Tuesday's practice. It included the return of "gauntlet" drills to try to force -- and guard against - turnovers, plus tackling drills more reminiscent of preseason camp. "I like what I saw," Trufant said. ... The early forecast for game time Saturday night is a 30-percent chance of showers and the temperature around 50. ... As of Monday the Huskies had distributed 56,500 tickets for the game. That includes 4,500 to Oregon State.