Durante, Moore make formidable duo

By Frank Gogola

Attempting to replace a playmaker like strong safety Jimmie Ward is a tall task, but the Huskies have redshirt senior free safety Dechane Durante and junior strong safety Marlon Moore to help fill the void.

The Huskies lost Ward, who was selected 30th by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2014 NFL Draft. Before Ward was drafted in May, the Huskies had already moved on, converting Moore from cornerback to safety during spring camp.

“Somebody had to take [Ward’s] spot, and they trusted me to be that guy,” Moore said.

Moore said he played safety from time to time in high school and his transition to safety since spring camp “has gone well.”

“It wasn’t a big turnaround,” Moore said. “I just thought I had to be more vocal and be more of a leader at the safety spot. [At] corner, we just basically get the play call from the safeties or whatever. Now I’m controlling all that, so [I’m] just becoming more of a leader and stepping up … .”

Moore has been paired up with Durante, who played the last three seasons with Ward.

“As the games go on, game by game, we just get more experience, get better each week,” Durante said. “That’s what we’re trying to do [is] just progress. … We’re getting better with each other, comfortable with each other playing back there.”

Moore said he and Durante “have a very good understanding on the field” and “click together,” and Durante said he’s felt an increase in the comfort level throughout the season.

“Our communication in the back, getting the calls out, being on the same page, I think we’re doing a better job at that as the games go on,” Durante said. “… Like I said, communication, experience, we’ll get better game by game. We’re just trying to progress.”

Through four games together in the back of the defense, Moore leads the Huskies with 32 tackles and Durante is tied for second on the team with 22 tackles. Moore also has two tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, one interception and one pass defensed. Durante has added two passes defensed and 0.5 tackles for loss.

“They’re both off to good starts, having good seasons,” said defensive coordinator Jay Niemann. “They’re playing well and getting good production for us. I think right now going into conference play they’ve given us the kind of leadership and quality of play that we’ve been looking for from them.”

Durante said he’s seen Moore “coming along” and knows he’ll only get better with more practice and playing time at the position.

“I think he’s definitely, coming from corner to safety, he’s definitely making a lot of plays this year,” Durante said. “He looks comfortable back there. He’s physical. I think he’s a better safety than a corner, to be honest with you.”

Niemann said he can’t worry about trying to replace Ward; he just has to get the next player in there, prepared and ready to go.

“There aren’t a whole lot of guys out there that are first-round draft picks … and you don’t worry about the guy that you don’t have any more,” Niemann said. “You just take care of the ones you have to work with, and I’m very thankful for those two because they’re both good players.”