Redshirt senior linebacker Travis Feeney has shown no signs of a learning curve in his move from Sam to Buck linebacker in his final season with the Washington football team.
Feeney was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season following his dominating performance in the UW’s 49-3 victory over Arizona on Saturday.
The Richmond, Calif., native finished with 11 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and a pass breakup against the Wildcats.
Arizona entered Saturday as the Pac-12 leader in both total and scoring offense, but were held to a season low scoring total against the Huskies. The UW became the first team to hold Arizona to single-digit points since UCLA defeated the Wildcats 17-7 Nov. 1, 2014.
Feeney leads the Huskies in tackles for loss (13) and sacks (6.5), and is tied with sophomore cornerback Sidney Jones for the team-lead in forced fumbles (3).
“I think he’s a little more detailed than he’s been in the past,” head coach Chris Petersen said. “He’s so athletic that even when he does makes a mistake, he can make up for it a lot of times. I think one thing is he’s not having to do that quite as much, playing with better eyes. He can make plays chasing things down that maybe he shouldn’t be, and they come back with a naked or gets out of his gap and he’s been able to make that up throughout his career. I think he’s playing a little more solid because he’s doing his job playing with better eyes and it’s really starting to translate for him.”
Through eight games in his new role, Feeney has made his biggest stride as a pass rusher as he leads the Pac-12 in sacks. In his first three seasons, Feeney recorded 7.5 sacks.
Last season, Hau’oli Kikaha played the Buck position and set the UW’s single season sack record with 19, tying for the best total in the nation. Feeney said he learned a lot from watching Kikaha, now with the New Orleans Saints, and is always asking for advice from his former teammate.
However, Feeney believes the Buck position has allowed him to show more than his pass-rushing ability.
“I don’t see myself as just a pass rusher,” Feeney said. “I can cover. I can do whatever they ask me to do. I never had a problem with covering guys. … I see myself as an all-around player.”
Feeney was the only returning starter in the UW’s front seven in 2015, but so far, the Huskies have more than made up for the lost production. The Huskies rank third in the conference in sacks, and Feeney, senior linebacker Cory Littleton, and redshirt sophomore linebacker Azeem Victor all rank in the top 15 in the Pac-12 in tackles for loss.
The Huskies have been arguably the conference’s best defense this season, ranking first in the Pac-12 in scoring defense. The UW is the only team to allow less than 20 points per game on average this season, and have given up a conference-low 15 touchdowns.
Feeney earned his first Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week honor after recording seven tackles and 2.5 sacks in the UW’s 17-12 victory over USC on Oct. 8.
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