I had a chance to catch up with USF cornerback Quenton Washington this week as the Bulls prepared to play at UConn on Saturday. Washington missed one game this season with a knee injury and after being held out of practice last week, returned to the field this week.
Here is a little of what he had to say about his team going off the bye.
I know you guys had a tough 44-17 loss at Pitt the last time out. What have you focused on in practice since that game?
Quenton Washington: We basically got back to the fundamentals, going in and making sure we make solid tackles, making sure we are in the right fits in run gaps, stuff like that.
Has it been hard to wait so long to play another game?
QW: It's always tough after a loss. You always want to get back out there the next day to get that taste out of your mouth. Waiting these two weeks to get back out on the field has been rough. But we’re working hard to get better and correct the mistakes, and we’re looking forward to getting back on the field this week.
After the performance against Pitt, do you guys feel you have something to prove?
QW: I don't think we feel like we have anything to prove to people out there. We have something to prove to ourselves. That’s not the image we want to put out on the field. That's not how we play. We want to show ourselves what we really can do, play South Florida football, good solid football, wrapping up and making tackles.
How do you work on tackling?
QW: I feel like we weren't wrapping up when we tackled. We had tackles for like two- or three-yard gains [against Pitt] and we weren't making them. They were bouncing off and getting five, seven yards. We’ve got to make sure we get solid tackles, wrapping up and getting our feet in solid place.
What else have coaches emphasized?
QW: We worked on getting our defensive assignments, gaps and run fits. And one key thing, we worked on getting off the field on third down. The coaches came up with a great plan. We just need to execute.
What do you think is the identity of this team so far this season?
QW: We want to be known as a tough, physical football team that's fundamentally sound, that is going to go out there and fight for 60 minutes every game.
Any extra motivation for this game after the way UConn won with a last-second field goal last year?
QW: I don't think so. We don't look too much into the past. We go into the present. We'll be prepared for this game like we prepare for every other game.
What have you seen on tape from UConn quarterback Johnny McEntee?
QW: I watched him a little bit, I just feel like he's making good decisions with the ball. He's not putting his team in harm’s way. He's making throws to the receivers.
What will be the keys for you guys to winning this game?
QW: We have to play team defense, play within the scheme, and everything else will be taken care of.