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Leadership on the Defense

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Last weeks game against Wazzu left a lot of people scratching their heads. One thing that really stood out was the defense's lack of a pass rush. We all knew the secondary had yet to be tested and it was clear that there is some work that needs to be done on that unit. But the absence of even one sack to some, including me, was far more glaring.

I have often said that the running game needed someone to step up and be a leader. I think the same needs to be said of the defense. Leadership is defined in many ways and sometimes it appears in different forms. The question is who will it be? There is so much talent out there that it is often difficult to see who could step up.

In Wolf's column today he asks just that question.

There really isn't a vocal personality among the starting 11, a role that was assumed last season by Oscar Lua. But Lua got in for just 10 plays against Washington State, with Rey Maualuga the starting middle linebacker.

"I'm just fulfilling the role handed down to me," Lua said. "I have to wait for an opportunity but it doesn't seem like it's coming right now."...

Without Lua, there are not many candidates, according to one player.

Defensive end Lawrence Jackson said a linebacker is typically the most vocal because they act as "the quarterback of the defense."

Maualuga agreed, but he is only a sophomore.

"The (middle linebacker) is in charge of everything," he said. "But I think everyone can be a leader."

I may be way off base with this analogy but this situation reminds me a lot of the 1992 "Dream Team". There was so much talent on the court that no one was comfortable with stepping up to be the leader. I remember watching the first game that they played in Barcelona and I remember all sorts of passing because no one wanted to take the shot for fear of being a showboat. No one wanted to take charge.  That is the same situation here. Rey Maualuga definitely has the skill and temperament to be the leader of the defense.

Making plays is not enough. Someone needs to take charge and make the decisions that need to be made during the game. Maualuga is just that person. Pete Carroll seems to feel the same way. He has made the turn on some of the issues that he had last year. It should not matter that he is a sophomore nor should it matter if some of the upper classmen feel that there is some sort of pecking order. I should note that there is no evidence that any upperclassmen feel that there should be some sort of pecking order. Someone needs to take the reigns and get the defense to come together. There is just too much talent on that side of the ball not to have a leader.

Once someone steps up the results we expect and that we have seen before are sure to come. Rey is THAT guy!