Feeney, Washington defense looking to "shut everybody up"
BURBANK, Calif. — Losing seven starters on the defense isn’t all that uncommon. It’s part of college football; players graduate or head to the pros early. Heck, Arizona State lost nine starters on defense heading into the 2014 season and still found a way to win 10 games.
But the quality of the guys who exhausted their Montlake eligibility in 2014 is rather high – linebacker Shaq Thompson won the Paul Hornung Award for the nation’s most versatile player and was drafted 25th overall by the Carolina Panthers. Outside linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha holds the Washington record for 36 sacks and 19 single-season sacks; he was taken in the second round by the Saints. And oh yeah, the Huskies had two other defensive players – nose tackle Danny Shelton and cornerback Marcus Peters – taken in the first round.
Naturally, pundits are predicting a drop in production on that side of the ball, and it’s at least partly why the media is predicting that Washington will fall out of the top half of the North and finish fourth in the division.
To Washington linebacker Travis Feeney, the lowered expectations provide great bulletin board material.
“Let them say that we’re not going to be that good when we’re just going to prove them wrong. We’re going to shut everybody up and that’s how it’s going to be,” Feeney confidently said at 2015 Pac-12 Football Media Days. “It’s going to be a great season for us. Guys are stepping up.”
Feeney, who won the team’s Most Outstanding Special Teams Player award last year, is taking on an increased role after having learned from some premier linebackers in Kikaha and Thompson.
“I learned hard work. Work hard every day,” Feeney said when asked about what he learned from the former Huskies. “You gotta be working when people don’t know, you gotta be working when nobody’s watching.”
Head coach Chris Petersen thinks that in order for the Butkus Award preseason watch list memeber to become a leader for the Huskies, he needs to become more consistent, something he believes his senior linebacker can do.
“He’s tremendously talented… he can run with the best of them. He’s tall, long and can cover ground and he’s a physical player,” Petersen said of Feeney, who started nine games in 2014. “We all show flashes, some of us more than others, but the great ones are consistent day in and day out and we’re hopeful that Travis can do that and take that next step.”