Washington football’s top defensive performer earned recognition from the Pac-12 after his big game!
Washington football snuck out a 27-21 victory over Oregon State on Saturday in large part to the performance of outside linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui. He recorded four total tackles against the Beavers, to go with two sacks, and two forced fumbles. That performance earned him Pac-12 Defensive Lineman of the Week!
Husky fans expected a big jump in snaps and production from ZTF this season, but maybe not this much, this early. He started in place of Laiatu Latu, who missed the game for an undisclosed reason, which is presumed to be an injury. If he’s able to come anytime soon, ZTF and Latu could end up forming the conference’s best pass-rush duo.
At 6’3, 280 pounds, ZTF shows impressive burst and quick-twitch ability off the edge. His usual role is as the BUCK linebacker, where he’s expected to put some pressure on the quarterback, but mainly set the edge. On Saturday, he moved over to SAM without Latu, where he had more opportunities to pin his ears back and get after Beavers quarterback Tristan Gebbia.
The Husky pass rush looked great, even with Latu and Tuli Letuligasenoa out. They collapsed the pocket consistently from everywhere, getting pressures from blitzing linebackers, defensive tackles, and outside linebackers. True freshman Sav’ell Smalls showed an impressive bull rush on one of ZTF’s strip-sacks, and the group of defensive tackles, led by Faatui Tuitele and Taki Taimani, created excellent pressure from the inside.
Moving forward, the question is how long will Letuligasenoa and Latu be out? If both can return sooner rather than later, this pass rush is going to continue to be fierce. The secondary is as good as ever, so there’s going to be plenty of time for the front four to hit home. The defense did a great job creating turnovers, and it’s possible that they’ll blitz a little more going forward to try to force opposing quarterbacks into more mistakes.