Huskies Bringing A Cage To The Chicago Bears’ Lair

A key to Saturday’s game for No. 19 UW (1-0) will be maintaining a constricting, “cage” of a pass rush to affect hot quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase of Illinois (2-0). By Gregg BellUW Director of WritingSEATTLE – Hau’oli Kikaha laughed when asked if he knew the last time he’s gotten a sack.“Eastern Washington,” the Huskies’ senior defensive end responded immediately Tuesday morning, two years and seven days since he last dumped a quarterback. That was in Washington’s 2011 season opener.Kikaha, who changed his name to Jamora before this season to honor the mother’s side of his family, played four games in 2011 before he sustained a season-ending knee injury. On his way back last summer, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament again, wiping out his 2012 season.In the Huskies’ opening, 38-6 win over Boise State Aug. 31, Kikaha returned and got a hit – but not a sack -- on the quarterback. No Dawg bagged a QB that night.So yes, actually, finally, bringing down a quarterback this weekend would be huge – not only for Kikaha but for the No. 19 Huskies (1-0) in their attempt to slow down Nathan Scheelhaase and pass-happy Illinois (2-0) on Saturday beginning at 3 p.m. at Soldier Field in Chicago (Big Ten Network television, the Washington IMG College radio network and here on with another exclusive game chat).“Oh, man. I’m anxious. Excited. And hopeful,” Kikaha said. “That’s the biggest reward playing on the D-line. That’s everything we look forward to – besides taking the ball away.“That’s my everything. I don’t know how else to say it. I can’t wait.”Shirley and Kikaha both noted Scheelhaase likes to get the ball out in 2.2 seconds or less.
Kikaha says most of those quick throws by Illinois have come on first and second downs. UW’s objective is to keep those plays from gaining much.
“We’ve got to get them into third and longs as a defense, just in general, so we can get in better pass rush opportunities,” he said. “That’s the first thing: Get them in third and long. Then we’ll use our best moves.”
Kikaha says he has two or three prime pass-rush moves in his edge part of Washington’s cage. He also has a counter move which defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi has helped him develop, to use after an offensive lineman begins blocking him a certain way during a game.
Scheelhaase and the Illini have taken advantage of a big offensive line to take more shots down the field this season than Boise State’s Southwick tried against UW. And Illinois has faster, more dangerous receivers and backs than Boise brought to Seattle.
"They’ve got game changers," Huskies middle linebacker John Timu said. “We’ve got to be disciplined with our eyes and our feet.”
The Illini also “give you every formation, motion and personnel group that there is,” Wilcox said.
"Our biggest thing," outside linebacker Shaq Thompson said, “is to keep our cage tight, make him throw over our defensive line. And get pressure.
"Yeah, we’re comfortable and confident. The D-line is going to a great job this week against a good quarterback at getting the ball out."
INSIDE THE DAWGS:  OL Erik Kohler was in full pads on the sideline at the start of Tuesday morning’s practice. He did not have on a walking boot for the first time since preseason practice began a month ago. The two-year starter is still on his slow road back, but he is making progress toward adding depth to an offensive line that could use some playing at a break-neck, no-huddle pace. … The UW Ticket Office has sold about 4,000 tickets for Saturday’s game. That doesn’t count more fans that have purchased seats from Soldier Field or other outlets.
UW has spent this week, last week’s bye, the entire presea

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