The Huskies, ranked No. 18 in the preseason coaches poll released last week and a trendy pick to win the Pac-12 title, insist they are carrying the same us-against-the-world mentality that served the defense well in 2015.

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If these Washington Huskies are to fulfill the lofty expectations heaped upon them this season, they will do so largely on the strength of a defense that has All-American candidates lurking at every corner of the field — and one perplexing question lingering from the sideline:

How the heck are they going to divvy up playing time for all these ball-hawkin’, back-breakin’, quarterback-crushin’ dudes?

If that sounds a little outrageous after the first day of fall camp, consider:

1, That Jordan Miller, a second-year sophomore cornerback who had two more impressive interceptions Monday, might be the most improved player on the entire roster … and, barring major injuries, he won’t get a chance to start until 2017 at the earliest.

2, That 320-pound junior Elijah Qualls, one of the Huskies’ most valuable players in the first half of last season, has been asked to shift to a new position on the defensive line … to make room for two other defensive linemen who could prove just as valuable as he.

3, That the Huskies have the luxury, if they so chose, to have true freshman cornerback Byron Murphy redshirt this season … even as he comes to campus as the most-touted recruit to sign with Chris Petersen.

Those are just three examples of the championship-level depth the Huskies have built on a defense that ranked as the best in the Pac-12 Conference last season.

An embarrassment of riches? Certainly. Just don’t tell them that.

The Huskies, ranked No. 18 in the preseason coaches poll released last week and a trendy pick to win the Pac-12 title, insist they are carrying the same us-against-the-world mentality that served the defense well in 2015.

“This is the new year. We haven’t done anything,” co-defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said Monday. “It’s about going out and preparing the best you can and putting yourself in the best mindset with your preparation (to) come out and prove it. Last year is last year; it’s a totally different season.”

In Monday morning’s first practice for veteran players — a back-to-basics workout sans pads — the UW defense picked up where it left off during April’s spring practices, shutting down the offense in virtually every way. Outside linebacker Psalm Wooching continued to surround Jake Browning better than the quarterback’s own shadow; Qualls, Greg Gaines and Vita Vea hardly gave an inch on the defensive line; and the stacked secondary seemed to gets hands on more passes than it didn’t.

“They just have to keep an edge,” linebackers coach Bob Gregory said. “They can’t listen to all the press clippings and that stuff and they’ve just got to play football and improve every day. If they do that, we’ve got a chance.”

Jimmy Lake, co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach, helped sign three more highly regarded defensive back recruits in this incoming class — Murphy, Isaiah Gilchrist and Kentrell Love — and he welcomes back Austin Joyner, another touted cornerback who missed most of last season with a knee injury.

Joyner, working with the newcomers in Monday afternoon’s practice, had a nice diving interception in his first practice back from his torn ACL. And yet, as things stand, it’s difficult to picture him finding regular playing time ahead of established starters Sidney Jones, Kevin King and Darren Gardenhire, among others.

The Huskies believe they have one of the best secondaries in the nation, and it’s hard to disagree.

“I told the guys last night, this is probably the deepest (group) I’ve ever coached,” Lake said, adding: “I definitely made a difficult situation for me because I have to make sure everybody gets their reps and they’re happy. ”

Notes

• Miller had the play of the day when he ripped the ball away from WR John Ross III during one-on-one coverage deep down the right sideline. Ross leaped and appeared to come down with the Browning pass before Miller pulled it in for his second pick. Gardenhire also had an interception of Browning during a 7-on-7 drill, and LB Jusstis Warren made a leaping interception of a K.J. Carta-Samuels pass during a team drill.

• Former Oklahoma wide receiver K.J. Young, added to the UW over the weekend, practiced for the first time with the rest of the Huskies’ newcomers/freshmen during their two-hour afternoon workout.