Talked a bit today with Huskies defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake, who discussed Budda Baker’s return from an ankle injury and effusively praised Oregon running back Royce Freeman. Here’s what Lake said:
(Pleasantly surprised to get Budda Baker back as soon as you did?) “It was really an unbelievable recovery. He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around, that I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach. He would text me and say, ‘Coach, I’m ready to go today.’ Then I would talk to Rob, the trainer: no, he’s not ready to go today. So he’s just that kind of guy. He’s tough. He would try to go out there and do my drills, and I was like, ‘no, get off to the side.’ That’s just the way he is. He is definitely a different football player, in a great way.”
(Was he a game-time decision on Thursday?) “No, he was going to get the start. We knew he was going to go. It was about two days before that that he had finally kind of had a full practice, so we were prepared. Now, we were also prepared that he could go out in two plays and we’d have to get the next guy in there. But he obviously held up. Still had a few dings in there because he played such a physical football game, but to his credit, he stayed in there and battled all the way through the end.”
(On Darren Gardenhire’s progression since last season) “G-man has taken his game to another level. And he’s still got to take to even another level. He’s come a long way in a year. He really stepped up in the spring, had a really good spring, had a really good training camp, and now he’s just seeing all of his good practice habits that he’s now putting on tape, and now it’s showing up in games. So proud of him, but he’s still got a ways to go.”
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(On players buying into Oregon rivalry) “I think our players understand the magnitude of this game, and really every game. Even though last week wasn’t considered a rivalry, it’s still a big game on a big stage vs. a very talented opponent, and it’s no different this week. they know this is a team that was in the national championship game seven months ago. A very talented team that’s been at the top of our conference for a lot of years, and they know through the fans how heated of a rivalry this is. But hopefully we can make it a rivalry, because right now, the last decade, it’s been one-sided.”
(On Oregon running back Royce Freeman) “Yeah, he’s the best running back in the country. Hands down. Great size.” (What about Leonard Fournette?) “This guy’s way better. 235 pounds, fast, got great vision, he’s big, he’s elusive. The SEC gets all their hype, just like they do every single year. I’m just telling you right now: I know a lot of NFL scouts. Royce Freeman is the best running back in the country.”