Jason Chorak analyzes the Defense


Remembrances of former linebacker Jason Chorak involve an image of a frenzied blur coming off the edge and descending upon a wary quarterback.  It was a scene oft-repeated in Chorak’s years at Washington.  Especially in 1996, when the so-called “Croation Sensation” amassed a school record 14.5 sacks on the way to being named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.  For his UW career, Chorak totalled 25 sacks and a school-record 57.5 tackles for loss. 

These days, Chorak is constantly on the move in the business world, but is interviewed fairly often on KJR to give his thoughts on the Huskies.  Personally, I often like speaking to former Dawgs to get their perspective on current happenings.  Given President Emmert’s recent decisions to retain UW coach Tyrone Willingham and fire AD Todd Turner, there’s a lot to talk about.  I asked Chorak for his take.  

“Obviously Emmert thought it was the right move to fire the Athletic Director,” said Chorak.  “I disagree with a lot of what Turner had to say.  One, going on the air and dogging his own players, saying that they’re mediocre athletes.  That’s a low move by any administration person to say that about his own players.  I did not agree with that at all.  Husky football is about winning.  You know, you’re not at Vanderbilt anymore, you’re not at Stanford.  You have to produce wins or you’re not going to be around.”

But was Chorak disappointed in Emmert’s decision to give Willingham another year?

“No, I wasn’t disappointed that he was retained,” said Chorak.  “But I will be disappointed if some moves aren’t made on the defensive side of the ball.  They need a new D-Coordinator.  You know, doing something with the defense is important because clearly there are serious problems on that side of the ball.  I will be very disappointed if nothing is done there.  Any good coach would go and solve that problem.  If Willingham doesn’t go and solve that problem, then I will be disappointed (that he was retained).”

Chorak was then asked what encouraging signs exist for the Husky defense next year, as well as his concerns.  

“They’ve got some good guys out there,” he said.  “But there’s only a few that I think `Thank god HE’S coming back.’  I like that linebacker, #40 Mason Foster.  He’s a type of player that I don’t understand why we don’t have more of.  He has a motor, he’s always around the ball.  Bringing back (linebacker) EJ Savannah is good, as he obviously shows some good things.  The thing that is hard in looking at this year’s defense, is that they had three seniors up front.  If that’s the best they have, it’s going to be pretty ugly next year at the positions where we’re replacing seniors who are leaving.”

Chorak went on to describe what aspects of the defense discouraged him this season. 

“Seeing three defensive linemen rush the passer, dropping eight guys into coverage, and still seeing the other team’s receiver catch the ball with nobody within five yards of him,” he said.  “Being beat deep when you’re only dropping three (back into secondary coverage).  Miscommunications on defense.  You know, we just didn’t look like a Division-I defense.  Anybody associated with Husky football can understand that Husky football is aggressive and that when you play us you’re gonna get an ass whoopin’ regardless of whether you won or lost.  Traditionally, the defense is going to hit you in the mouth, and you’re going to know that you just played a football game. 

“I don’t think that our guys on defense play with that kind of passion and love for the game,” he said.  “I don’t see the fire in their eyes to get to the ball.  I don’t know what that comes from and why these players don’t understand what wearing the purple and gold is all about.”

Mentioned to Chorak was an old Dave Hoffmann quote about how nastiness can’t be taught, but must be recruited.

“Most definitely!” said Chorak.  “I believe that 100%.  I come from Vashon Island.  Three Huskies have won Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year; Steve Emtman (twice), Dave Hoffmann and me.  The defense that we’re playing right now is unacceptable.  You know, at one point (this year), the defense ranked 118th out of 119 teams in the country.  That’s just horrible.

“But you know, there is some good coaching going on there,” he said.  “Randy Hart is one of the best defensive line coaches in America.  Chris Tormey was there when I was there, and I know he went on to a head coaching job and can coach.  So I know that the d-linemen and linebackers are being coached well. 

“They need to get the players there that want to play aggressive hit-you-in-the-mouth defense,” he said.  “Like Dave says, the heart and the nastiness doesn’t show in the numbers in the 40-yard dashes that these guys run.  All that stuff will come.  You’re going to a major university.  For four or five years, all you’re going to do is train, go to school and basically eat.  You’re going to get stronger and you’re going to get faster.  It’s just the means of the system.”

With yet another bowl season about to begin with the Huskies relegated as onlookers, Chorak was asked to sum up President Emmert’s move this week to fire Todd Turner.  

“Something needed to change and I respect Emmert for what he did in letting Turner go,” he said.  “I think he might have thought Turner’s job was done in getting everything into compliance and cleaned up from the Neuheisel sanctions.  Now it’s time to build this team into something that everyone in Seattle is accustomed to.  And that’s a team that plays tough defense and finishes first or second in the Pac-10 every year.”



Filed under football, Huskies

15 responses to “Jason Chorak analyzes the Defense

  1. Tom McKenna

    I totally agree with Jason Chorak. We need to get back to hard-nosed defense. I’ll never forget when the Huskies made the transition from a read and react style of D to the all out attack style in late 1989. They clobbered Florida in their bowl game and held a pretty good RB named Emmitt Smith under 20 yards.

    The years after that were so much fun. It was almost more fun to watch the D than the offense, as good as the offense was.

    I also remember when Chorak came to UW from Vashon, and some of the CA guys thought that was pretty funny until he started kicking their butts in practice. He was a great, aggressive player. I have cousins who grew up on Vashon, so I was really proud of his accomplishments.

    Baer sucks as a DC and needs to go. If he stays, I predict Tyrone will be gone next year. If Tyrone makes a good choice for a DC, he could be around for a long time. The offense is making good progress and the special teams are starting to come around–and they will get better with increased depth from the improved recruiting.

    The D is the glaring weakness. Fix it. It is making me sick to my stomach.

  2. Big Dave

    Thank you Derek for posting this great interview with Jason Chorak, Husky legend.
    Thank you Mr. Chorak for taking the gloves off and saying what needed to be said.
    The ouster of clueless AD Todd Turner gives me hope that
    the program has stopped digging a hole and may be heading up.
    Changes are being made, lets hope there are more to come.(TW)

  3. Great article Derek. Thanks for getting this out to the public. I wish you could get this into the Times or PI. It would make for some great pub. to get Baer out of there. Could you get an interview with Mincy or Nip? Their so quiet when it comes to the old days, I’d like to hear thier takes.

    Thanks again!

  4. I’d also like to thank Jason for the thoughts and the memories. What I feel is most important about the defense is the attitude, exactly as both Jason and Dave put it. There was a bit more of “teams knowing they were in a game” this year but I’m not sure which side of the ball that came from In my opinion, it was the OL that was finally learning what Husky football is.

    There was also a comment about Roussel(sp?)’s speed, which was reported as 4.7 in the 40. Unless you’re a DB I don’t feel flat out speed is important, because if the front 7 is using that speed, they’ve been beaten and are chasing. What I liked reading about the kid from Louisiana was that he’s always in on the play. I think(hope) that means he has football quickness and a love for contact.

  5. MaliMoya

    Way to Go Chorak! Very well put!

  6. 3 of 5

    chorak seems to be sending mixed signals. He argues that the defensive coaching needs to change (primarily baer), yet he also argues that the defense has some excellent coaches. Also, he seems to be claiming that the talent (ie recruiting nasty players) is the key problem. I respect Chorak, and I think he was a fanastic player, but I’m not sure what to take from his comments.

  7. Loandawg

    “I don’t think that our guys on defense play with that kind of passion and love for the game,” he said. “I don’t see the fire in their eyes to get to the ball. I don’t know what that comes from and why these players don’t understand what wearing the purple and gold is all about.” —

    Here he admits we don’t have the athletes but earlier in the interview he states that it is the coaching. He goes on to say “You can’t coach nastyness, you recruit it”. Well then, how many that started on D did we have last year that were NOT FRESHMAN and were not players recruited by Baer? Hmm. My point is when you take over a team in college you pretty much have no choice to play players you most likely didn’t recruit. Personel you may not really want out there. Then you throw in the mix with Murchison’s legal issues, Davenport injured the majority of the season (or playing while still not 100%) and Cory Nicol walking off because of an injury. Our Secondary was thin, or Linebackers were injured…hahaha…I am not saying he is a great coach and doesn’t deserve a swift kick in the tail but Dude, give him a little break. If you were in his shoes — would you want the players you had? Heck NO! Like Chorak alluded to — Not one of these players is going to the NFL. … NOT one. Roy Lewis may make a practice squad but that is it.

  8. Denny Andrews

    Good stuff Derek; Dawgs DO need a new defensive coordinator…….Wonder what Jim Lambright is doing these days?

  9. J G

    Chorak is the type of player that we Husky fans LOVE! This is the attitude we need. Kent Baer – he’s no Dawg. He plays sissy, prevent defense. He’s afraid to trust his players. Let them off the leash!

    And Chorak is right – if Ty doesn’t fire Baer, it just shows that Ty values his friendships over the UW football program. Not that that should come as a surprise to anybody given Ty’s past.

  10. J G

    3 of 5:

    If you read what Chorak is saying – he’s saying they need to fire Baer. The position coaching is good – the schemes that Baer is playing are not.

  11. Vegas Dawg

    I agree with Jason’s assessment. We don’t have guys out there with fire in their eyes and a non stop motor. Somebody fell down in the recruiting process when they didn’t evaluate our current players from this basis. This kid from Baton Rouge may represent the blue print for future evaluations if we get a new DC that appreciates mean streaks more than tape measures.

  12. Vito

    Make up your mind Chorak, too much swaying back and forth for my taste. The defense is horrible, 661 yards to Oregon at home? 465 yards rushing??? And they ran the same play like 30 times, there are no agjustments at all. And what is Ty doing to address it? Keeps the same coaches. Out of 23 recruits verbaled, he has only 7 true defensive players, hmmmm. The Dawgs are going to get steamrolled on the ground next year, and Locker will never be able to put up enough points to make up for it.

  13. Ed Harris

    Great article! I hope Jason isn’t black-balled the way some other Husky players have been for speaking the truth about the defense! One more year of Tyrone…ugh

  14. JG

    Jason, Hey, thanks for being the “Dawg” that we all needed. Your play and attitude was outstanding and as we can read, it is still there.

    Now how about coming to the UW to coach the D? Bring Emtman and Hoffman along with you. See if Parrish or Milloy can come visit and add a few pointers on what a hard hitting DB can do (cover.)

  15. Lance Newell

    The Huskies proud football team was let down by exactly what Chorak was saying.
    Baer for some reason can not have a 4 quarter defense.I did see now and then a nice defense,then all of a sudden late into the game,nothing.Oregon ran the same play over and over and the huskies were not on the same page.Baer being gone opens the door for a good coach to step in and take this program to another level.
    Now,how bout some players on offensive that can catch the ball,actually hold the ball after it gets to them,sheeesh….

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