So far this season, Washington’s pass defense has been the best in the Pac-12. But it faces a big challenge this week when the No. 15 Huskies head to No. 5 Stanford. Safety Sean Parker took a few minutes this week to chat with the Pac-12 blog about the growth of the defense the last couple of seasons and Saturday’s matchup with the Cardinal.
You guys made huge strides last year, but it seems like this year you are really putting it all together. What’s it been like to see this group mature over the last couple of years?
Sean Parker: It’s been great to see. Everyone is bonding and everyone is putting together their own piece of the puzzle. That’s what we’ve been talking about these past few weeks. Everybody has a piece. Go out there and give all out of your piece. And at the end you put it all together. And you can see the progress this season.
Already three interceptions for you. Is the game moving that slow or are you moving that fast?
SP: I feel like I’m moving that fast. I love this defense. It’s my second year in it and I got smarter over the off season with the little things. I’m knowing what I’m seeing and I’m just going.
Playing on the road was an issue for you guys last year. Do you feel like the win at Illinois was a step in the right direction for you guys from a maturity standpoint?
SP: Absolutely. Last year we feel like we gave games up when we were on the road. And it didn’t feel good when we got back to Seattle. We wanted to change that. We took that to heart and we’ve been coming out with our heads on fire and playing fast. That’s how we expect to play no matter where we are.
A big challenge this week with Stanford. You were on the field two years ago when they set a school rushing record, and then last year you guys got the better of them at home. Can you take anything from either of those games?
SP: We’re not totally different teams. It’s the same quality of athlete. It’s going to be a physical game. Big O-line, they run the ball a lot and they run it until you stop it. And they have some good athletes so we have to matchup and bring our A-game. Stop the run and stay on top of the pass.
What needs to happen defensively for you guys to get a win? What do you see as the key to the game?
SP: Everything is key to this game, but I’d say tackling. It’s a championship game for us. That’s how we feel and that’s how we’re preparing. We have to tackle. They run the ball and their backs are good at making people miss and then we have to watch the play-action. They also have an athletic quarterback. We have to stop the run and make the quarterback go from side to side.
There were some big expectations for you guys this year. So far you’ve lived up to it. How have you seen this team handle the hype?
SP: We concentrate on things that matter. Not what other people think or say. We still have to play the games. We treat each other like family. We all look out for each other. One way or another, we know we have to get it done.
This week you’ll see Stanford and their power running game, then Oregon’s spread, then Arizona State’s version of the spread, then the Bear Raid, then Colorado’s pistol. It seems like every week there is different offense and a different challenge to prepare for. How tough is it to be a defensive player in the Pac-12?
SP: It’s real tough. The conference is filled with guys that can make plays at receiver, running back even quarterbacks. It’s hard as a DB. You have to have eyes on everything and you have to be disciplined. Being disciplined cuts down on big plays. As a defender you have to try to be two steps ahead of the offense all the time.
What’s something about you that would surprise people?
SP: I’m right in the middle. I have eight siblings and I’m right in the middle.