Shelton: ‘Are You Not Entertained?’
By Mason Kelley
BERKELEY, Calif. – Danny Shelton took off his helmet, threw his head in the air and shouted, “Are you not entertained?”
As the final minutes ticked off the clock during Washington’s 31-7 win over Cal on Saturday, he swung his head around again and shouted the line made famous by Russell Crowe in “Gladiator” for a second time.
After the Huskies’ defense forced five fumbles that led to three turnovers and a 100-yard fumble return by Shaq Thompson, the answer to Shelton’s question is, yes, the Huskies were entertaining from start to finish coming off their bye week.
The secret to their success is simple: The Huskies are having fun.
“We try to have that fun aspect every day, in everything we do,” said Shelton, who had three tackles and recovered a pair of fumbles. “Just to come outside and see a guy like John Timu laughing and smiling, it’s an awesome feeling.”
For the players on Washington’s defense, it doesn’t matter who is making plays. The Huskies continue to celebrate the success of their teammates.
“I don’t have to be making plays,” Shelton said. “As long as we’re having fun, I’m OK with that.”
Washington turned three turnovers into 17 points. The Huskies are now plus-14 in turnovers this season. Hau’oli Kikaha finished with nine tackles and three sacks, but like the other members of the defense who are making plays, he shared the credit for his impressive play with his teammates.
“I think our defense overall did well,” Kikaha said. “We were able to get a lot of pressure up front with all of our guys.”
When he took a seat to talk with the media after the game, the senior wasn’t immediately asked a question, so he laughed and said, “awkward silence.” From his play on the field to his interactions with reporters, Kikaha is making the most out of each Saturday in his final season of college football.
Kikaha hounded Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff all afternoon, but it was Thompson that provided the spark that energized the Huskies early in the game.
It was a homecoming of sorts for the junior linebacker, who scooped up a fumble on the goal line in the first quarter and sprinted down the sideline to provide the first points of the game.
“It just popped into my hands,” Thompson said with a laugh. “Magnet.”
When he reached the end zone, he saluted the Washington fans who made the trip before being mobbed by his teammates. These defensive celebrations in the end zone are becoming an almost weekly occurrence for Thompson, who has three fumble returns and a pick-six this season.
“We’ve always got a mentality of scoop and score,” Thompson said. “That’s our mentality on defense.”
During Thompson’s return, Kikaha said he shed a blocker and looked for the ball. Then he saw his teammate sprinting down the field.
“I should have guessed,” Kikaha said with a laugh.
For Washington’s defense, the difference is living in the moment. They’re having fun and, for the Huskies, that’s all that matters.