Player: Damien Washington

Year: Senior

Position: Cornerback

Number: 27

Major: Business Finance

Hometown: Covina, CA

MSU cornerback Damien Washington had one of the game’s biggest plays during Saturday's hard-fought win over Western Illinois. With the Leathernecks threatening on the Bobcat 22-yard line late in the game, Washington picked off junior quarterback Connor Sampson and returned the ball for what looked like a touchdown but was called back after a questionable holding call. His play, however, led to one of the game’s biggest momentum shifts. When asked about how important it is to create opportunities like that, he responded, “It’s really important, our goal is to always score and get the ball back just because it does change the atmosphere of the game and if we can put points up on defense we’re probably having a really good game.” Washington will take the field Saturday at Bobcat Stadium for the Cats as they battle Norfolk State at 1 p.m. He had this to say about returning to the environment here in Bozeman: “It reminds you of how great our fans are and how great Bozeman is. I love playing in Bobcat stadium and playing in front of all those fans and the kids that watch. I just love it.”

What was the key to your interception last week?

I had a lot of help. I had Amadre [Williams] dropping into the slant which caused an overthrow. We hit the quarterback a number of times before that play which caused the quarterback to not really be stepping into his throws like he was to start the game. Then I had the whole team blocking for me, so the only thing that I did was catch it, but there were a lot more things that go into it which the rest of the team did for me.

What about the return? 

Oh man, I just went back to my high school days. I thought I was going to be tackled about five times. I don’t know what happened, but the next thing I know I'm in the endzone, so it was cool and it’s really fun to look back on that.

Thoughts on Norfolk State’s offense and quarterback? 

It’s a really dangerous offense, especially the quarterback. He can get out of the pocket, and he’s a really good runner. Coach [Choate] mentioned that he’s kind of a Chris Murray type of quarterback, which is almost spot on. He’s really great. He has a good arm, and their receivers are good. They’re athletic, long, big and they can move when they get the ball. It’s a very dangerous offense if you go out there sleeping thinking it’s going to be a cakewalk.

How important with a mobile quarterback is it to make sure you cover downfield?

It is very important, obviously, because you can create passes off the scrambles, and it’s important for us to have good eyes whether it’s in man or it’s in zone to know; okay, the quarterback’s breaking the pocket so stay in coverage until he’s running. That’s really all about our eyes.

Stepping into playing a lot more this year was there any moment you realized how much you could contribute this year?

I've always wanted to contribute any way I can, whether it was four snaps this game or 50. Any way I could help the team out is just great to me. I won’t pout on the sidelines, I’ll be there cheering the guys on and coaching them up any way I can and just be there for the team.

How much do you think the teams locked in on this opponent this week? Especially with Big Sky play starting next week and not trying to look too far ahead.

We never look ahead. We treat every week like it’s championship week just because of how good teams view us. You know they want to knock us off and they want to beat us of course. This is a dangerous team, a good team and we’re not going to go in there and wake up and beat them. So we are very honed in on film, alignment, plays and things that they do, and that’s what championship teams do. They take every week seriously and don’t look forward to their games in league that are important.

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