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Originally published Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at 9:37 PM

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Jamora's return boosts Huskies defense

The Huskies may have something special in the pass-rushing ends if Jamora, 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, returns to where he was before the injury and Josh Shirley, 6-3 and 230 pounds, progresses after a promising first year.

Seattle Times staff reporter;

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Smiles come easy to the effervescent Hau'oli Jamora, who is thankful to be able to run on a football field — virtually pain free — 10 ½ months after tearing knee ligaments and suffering a season-ending injury.

Still, the Washington defensive end beamed a little brighter than normal when talking about potentially lining up on the opposite line of the line with Josh Shirley, the man who stepped into his old spot and led the Huskies with 8 ½ sacks as a freshman.

"I like the guy," Jamora said. "He's a good pass rusher. I want to be able to race him to the quarterback. Hopefully we can make that happen."

It's entirely possible they'll book end an undersized defensive front that puts a premium on speed under new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.

However for now, the Huskies are easing Jamora back into the mix. Every day he dashes around the field and walks away without a setback is a small victory.

"I feel really good, and mentally I feel a lot better than I was before," Jamora said Tuesday after the second day of fall practice. "Physically, we'll see throughout camp how I progress. I feel great though."

The Huskies may have something special in the pass-rushing ends if Jamora, 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, returns to where he was before the injury and Shirley, 6-3 and 230 pounds, progresses after a promising first year.

"It's going to be pretty cool when we get going and (Shirley is) on one side and Jamora's on the other side and that's a pretty good pass rush with Danny (Shelton) in the middle," coach Steve Sarkisian said. "Good for us, not so much in training camp, but when the season starts."

After compiling 28 tackles and 12 for loss last season, Shirley is poised to be a star. He could be the centerpiece to Wilcox's defensive schemes that take advantage of his ability to rush the quarterback and drop back in pass coverage.

"My role has emerged," Shirley said. "I think the coaches trust me now with my maturity on the field and being an older guy. (They're) letting me drop more, letting me rush more and freeing me up."

Washington's new defense sacrifices size for speed. Senior Nate Fellner, a 6-1, 218-pounder, moved from safety to linebacker.

The key to revamping a defense that allowed school records in points and yards could hinge on the Huskies ability to adapt to the new schemes.

At Tuesday's practice, the catch phrase was "Next play." After almost every snap, the coaches repeated it over and over.

"It's a team motto really," Sarkisian said. "It's not just about the defense. It's something we've been talking about as a team. We stressed it last night as a focus for today so that we understand from a mental aspect that the last play is over and we got to focus on the task at hand, which is the next play.

"I thought the guys did a nice job. Sometimes it can work both ways. Sometimes you get beat, you can have a woe-is-me mentality and sometimes you make a big play and you get the yea-is-me mentality and you're not nearly as focused as you need to be on the next play. So it's been a big focus."

Next play or next season, the Huskies are focusing on the immediate future.

"We have to turn the page," Shirley said. "This is a new defense, new coaching staff so we are a new team."

Stopping no one
2011 Husky defense rankings (out of 120 FBS teams):
Total Defense 106th
Average points allowed 108th
Rushing Defense 76th
Passing Defense 116th

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