Thompson coming off best game for No. 15 Huskies

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 02, 2013
(Eds: Adds details, quotes. Will stand. With AP Photos.) By TIM BOOTH AP Sports Writer Shaq Thompson was one of the most heralded recruits Washington has landed since Steve Sarkisian arrived in Seattle. He was to be the next generation of the hard-hitting defensive backs that have cycled through the program, but with a unique blend of size and athleticism. Then something happened on Thompson's way to becoming the next Lawyer Milloy or Dashon Goldson roaming the back of the Huskies defense as a standout safety. Washington realized that Thompson fit best as a linebacker. So far, it's turned out to be the correct choice for the 15th-ranked Huskies. ''Just overall he's done such a great job. He's just plugged in as a football player,'' Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said. ''He studies, he wants to be good and to be a good player you have to do those things, not just physical ability.'' Thompson is coming off the most productive game of his college career, recording a career-high 13 tackles in the Huskies' 31-13 win over Arizona last Saturday. It's the kind of production Washington (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) was hoping to get from Thompson when the Huskies decided he was no longer going to be a hybrid nickel back but a true linebacker. The position switch makes Thompson unique. He's got the size and hitting mentality of a linebacker, combined with the speed and coverage awareness of a defensive back. He's so versatile that many fans wondered his freshman season why Thompson wasn't being used more on special teams as a returner or if he would get a chance as a running back, positions where he was a high school standout. While Thompson has adjusted to what the Huskies want him to be, Wilcox has also adjusted his plans to make things simpler. Last season, Thompson would swap sides of the defense based on the offensive alignment. It sometimes left Thompson thinking too much at the snap and leaving him a split-second behind. Wilcox made the change in the offseason to keep Thompson on one side of the field and take away the constant shifts. ''What really helped was probably staying on the same side, especially against up-tempo teams,'' Thompson said. ''Instead of moving around you just get the call and know your assignment and execute the play.'' Against Arizona, Thompson always seemed to be in the right spot. Wilcox said the way the defenses were called funneled the ball carrier toward Thompson and the result was the best statistical day of his career. Arizona was the fourth straight up-tempo offense the Huskies have faced. The major change comes this weekend at No. 5 Stanford. The Huskies are well aware of the bruising power of Stanford's offense that's been complemented early this season by a successful deep passing game. Thompson said it'll be strange to actually have the time to huddle this week. ''It'll probably mess up our tempo because we're used to going fast,'' Thompson said. ''But you know, we've got to keep playing ball. You never know, they might come out and go up-tempo. We just have to stay prepared.'' Thompson's play is part of a defensive effort that is getting little recognition because of what the Huskies offense has done in the first month of the season but deserves to be noticed. The Huskies are No. 4 in the country in scoring defense, giving up just 10.4 points per game. They are second in pass efficiency defense, fifth in red zone defense, ninth in yards passing allowed per game and 13th in overall total defense. The schedule has helped Washington's numbers look impressive, but being ranked in the Top 15 of anything defensively just two years ago would have been considered ludicrous since the Huskies were among the worst defenses in the country. ''It really doesn't matter about the recognition, honestly,'' Thompson said. ''It's about us just playing defense and playing as a family.''
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Fans go crazy over Orioles’ mystery dugout drink

Kevin Durant thinks meme of him and Draymond Green is ‘hilarious’

Eric Thames now has as many homers vs the Reds as any other MLB player has total

WATCH: Jonas Valanciunas, Greg Monroe get into it after hard foul

Steve Kerr present at arena in Game 4

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Serena Williams fires back at Ilie Nastase’s racist comment about her child

Warriors F Kevin Durant to play in Game 4 against the Blazers

Magic Johnson will represent the Lakers at NBA Draft Lottery

Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes suspended, fined for throwing at Manny Machado

Jerry Jones happy Tony Romo isn’t playing for another NFL team

Pitcher admits facing Tim Tebow is intimidating

NBA Weekend Awards: Who takes home the Wilt Chamberlain Trophy?

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Where it went wrong: Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 exits

20 of the best NFL Draft red carpet looks

Getaway Day: Wild, wacky and weird week in MLB (and that's just the injuries)

11 names you need to know for the NFL Draft

Most inspirational sports movies, series and docs available for streaming

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'It's not good to play the King' quiz

Best of Yardbarker: David Fizdale and the Grizzlies won't go down quietly

Three Up, Three Down: Home run hitters are heating up

The 'Even the Browns can't mess this one up' quiz

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

NBA Weekend Awards: Who takes home the Wilt Chamberlain Trophy?

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Where it went wrong: Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 exits

Getaway Day: Wild, wacky and weird week in MLB

11 names you need to know for the NFL Draft

Most inspirational sports movies, series and docs available for streaming

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'It's not good to play the King' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: Home run hitters are heating up

The 'Even the Browns can't mess this one up' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker