PULLMAN – Footwork and hand-eye coordination is huge on both the defensive and offensive lines and we’re always looking for ways to improve that. So this offseason, we’ve turned in part to the sweet science -- boxing can help so much with the form and technique of a lineman. Of course, the first time out, we forgot all about that and just tried to wail on one another.
First off, I should point out we’re only using one hand and we're not trying to go "live." But once you hit someone, or get hit, your first instinct is to just start throwing haymakers, one-handed or not. We’ve had two boxing sessions so far, with the one this week the most productive.
Our first session, just before the bell rang, I was thinking about technique, my footwork, how to absorb a blow. But then me and another guy (he’s a good friend of mine) started to box. Both of us immediately got pissed off and eventually we had to be broken up. The whole reason we’re doing it is to learn to box, to focus on form, but that got away from some of us the first time.
This week, both lines were much better. We went slower, we focused more on form, and our technique and movement was definitely improved.
Guys who stood out to me in the ring included Wade Jacobson and Adam Coerper. Jacobson had pretty good form, he looks like he’s boxed before. And Coerper had a pretty good hand. He’s also a guy you don’t want to piss off, he gave somebody a bloody nose that first week.
Speaking of offensive linemen, which one do I hate going up against most? That’s a hard question, all of our guys have their strengths and attributes. And I don’t really like going against any of them -- because they hold me.
But if I had to choose only one, I'd say John Fullington. I’ve been going against him a lot, ever since he got here on campus as a freshman, and we’ve developed a rivalry.
He’s trying to lead the offense, and I’m trying to lead the defense, and it’s built up to be a feud. He’s really a good guy, I’d hang out with him. But when it comes to me and him, out on the field, it’s the Hatfields and McCoys.
We’re definitely doing a lot more extra work on our own in the evenings, a lot more 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s, than we did last year. Participation has been really good but if anyone isn’t there, they’re getting called out by people a lot more this year. We’re working a lot harder than last year when it comes to the extra stuff we do on our own.
In my first diary I mentioned Travis Long, Darren Markle and Darryl Monroe as three defensive guys who were working especially hard and standing out to me in our workouts. They did so again but I want to add two more guys to that list this week – Eric Oertel and Xavier Cooper.
Cooper is young but he’s picking things up really fast. He’s one of the hard workers on the team. With Oertel, he and the linebackers are trying to take more of a leadership role. And that’s because of what happened during spring ball.
This spring, Coach Choate made a big deal about the fact the linebackers need to be the leaders. And they weren’t doing it at the start of spring ball. So Coach Choate took them all aside and they’ve taken it to heart ever since. In our new defense, the linebackers are called upon to pretty much run things and they have to lead if we’re going to be good.
A lot of the questions I saw on the board were asking about how different it is for me playing the 3-4, moving from defensive tackle to nose tackle.
The defense is different because it’s more focused on the linebackers, the linebackers have more responsibilities. In some ways, that makes it easier for me because I’m set at the nose -- last year I was mixing between the d-tackle and nose. But it’s also harder in other ways because I wouldn’t get double teamed as much as I do now. Now, I think I’ll be double teamed all the time.
Our defense overall does free people up more, we can surprise people more. We ran base defense mostly last year and there wasn’t too much trickery to it. I think we’re going to be disguised more this year.
Our defensive line coach is
Joe Salave'a and he’s a big guy. But looks can be deceiving.
He looks really intimidating but he’s a pretty mellow guy for the most part. And I learn better that way, being coached that way instead of being yelled at. So while he looks big and scary, he’s not that scary as a coach.
Post your questions on the CF.C message boards and I’ll try to answer as many as I can.
Cougar nose tackle Anthony Laurenzi (6-3, 290) out of Placentia, Calif. started all 12 games for WSU in 2011, posting a career-high 25 tackles, (17 solo) with 6.5 tackles for loss. A redshirt senior, d-coordinator Mike Breske this spring said that in Laurenzi, “we have what we want at the nose guard position.”
Laurenzi was named the Orange County Register Defensive Player of the Year his senior year at El Dorado High, racking up 40 sacks and 170-plus tackles over his prep career. His 23 sacks his senior year were both an all-time school record and the most that year in California.