PULLMAN, Wash. — Through three weeks of the season, Washington State's defense has been elite.
The Cougs rank 2nd in the nation in sacks with 14 and tackles for loss with 31.
We knew this unit would be good heading into the season, but perhaps the biggest piece of the success thus far has been a newcomer in Nevada transfer linebacker Daiyan Henley.
Henley had a career-high 13 tackles including three sacks and two forced fumbles in WSU's win over Colorado State this past Saturday, earning the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week, the Bednarik Defensive Player of the Week and Reese’s Senior Bowl National Defender of the Week.
Henley was a big "get" from Nevada. He was an All-Mountain West Conference second teamer, leading the team with 103 tackles.
But, he didn't record a single sack in his time with the Wolf Pack. Now, through three games, he has four, which is tops in the Pac-12 along with his seven-and-a-half tackles for loss.
Rather than keeping the focus on himself, Henley credits his coaching staff and teammates for his hot start to the season.
"I guess as far as, you know, what it means to me, I will say that the world's taking notice to the hard work that I've been putting in over these past few months. And the lessons I've been learning from my coaches, because without them I don't even know if people will have took notice," said Henley. "I appreciate my coaches, because they're putting me in a position to make plays that I didn't make last year. Like, they're really helping me, they're pushing me to strive to be better than what I was and to keep growing. I mean, that's big for me. And then other than that, my teammates, like I said, in the past the interviews, I have guys who helped me be better. The communication, plus them just doing their job added at an amazing level. And all the talent that I have around me, it's just easy to be a player. I hope that I'm making it easier for them to do their jobs as they're making it easier for me to do my job. So, all the awards. I love that they come in and I would love to have more. I want to be the guy that racks them up. But, you know, it's week to week. It's just the week award, like last week is over. I'm on to the next week and I'm trying to get better."
On top of his performance on the field, Henley has provided an infectious personality in the Cougs locker room. Coach Dickert has raved about his added leadership to the defensive unit as well.
Henley will look to have another great performance this weekend, as the Cougs welcome No. 15 Oregon into Pullman. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday.
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