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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 9, 2009 at 2:42 PM

Highlights of Sarkisian’s press conference today

UW coach Steve Sarkisian was keeping the faith at his press luncheon, saying that while losing five of the past six has obviously been a disappointment, he also feels the team is still on the right path.
In one of his most interesting comments, he admitted that the quick turnaround he thought possible after the USC game has stalled a bit because the team is still learning the “nuances” of finishing games.
He also discussed the Jake Locker interception and why he was unable to get a time out called in time so the officials could review Terrance Austin’s interception.
Here are his answers to some of those questions, and more:
OPENING STATEMENT: “We’ve got a great opportunity in front of us to go down to Corvallis and play a very good Oregon State football team. But there are some things, when you look at it, we’ve got a wonderful opportunity. We’ll go play, and we’ll play hard, and it’ll probably go down to the fourth quarter again and the key is for us to go out and execute in the fourth quarter when the game’s on the line.”
WHAT’S BEEN STALLING THE OFFENSE THE LAST FEW GAMES? “Anytime it’s your first year, anytime you’re implementing a system, there are nuances within things that, as you play within a system, as you play with one another, things get done. Whether it’s here or anywhere else you go, and you’re starting and you’re growing and you’re implementing something, those nuances come with time. And to me, that’s one of the things we’re missing. That’s one of the subtle things that get made on the fly that we struggle with at times. And that’s not to knock our kids in any way. That’s wherever you go, anywhere in the country. You can go back and look at Pete Carroll’s first year at USC. That’s called the process of implementation, of really putting something in and knowing the nuances of things that show up. One, that’s the first thing that’s missing. Two, our ability to really run the football when the opponent knows we’re going to run it, to take the pressure off the quarterback, I think is something that’s missing. But we will get that in time. We’re still a young offensive football team in that way, from a mindset standpoint: ‘Guys, we’re running the football.’ Whether it’s on the 1-yard-line going in, whether it’s on third-and-long, whether it’s in four-minute offense to close out a game. Those are the situations where the defense knows you’re going to run it, and you know you’re going to run it, and you still are able to do it. I think those two things come with time. You can’t just expect them to happen. I think we’re getting better at it, but we’re not there yet.”


ON LOCKER’S INTERCEPTION: “I think he was treating it more of a matchup with Jermaine Kearse on (UCLA CB Sheldon) Price. He’s a guy Jermaine had made a couple plays on early in the game. And he went to make a play with Jermaine. I don’t know if Jermaine was fully prepared for that ball at that time. Jermaine tried to make the adjustment. It’s somewhat of bad luck meeting good luck, on their part. The ball gets tipped up in the air, and their safety has an ability to come over and make a play. He’s a very heady player and has been doing that for them all year; that’s why he has eight interceptions. I don’t think it was so much of a forced throw or a guy making a great play. How often does a ball get tipped back up into the field of play where a guy can come over and get the interception? I really thought it was unfortunate, because at that point, at that juncture of the game, on that drive, we were in good command. We had some nice third-down conversions. We were at the 46-yard line with over a minute left. Three timeouts. I felt like we had a good bead on what they were doing defensively with the stuff we were calling and getting ourselves prepared to go down and score or really get ourselves in good field position to end the game with the ball in our possession, which is always what we want to do in those situations with four minutes left in the game. It just didn’t work out this time. I think we’ll learn from some of the things that happened, not just on that drive, but in the game to get us to that point.”
AND THAT’S WHY YOU WEREN’T CALLING TIME OUTS ON THAT FINAL DRIVE? “We wanted them for that. It was very similar to the SC game. We got the ball with 4:17 left in that game and 4:13 in the SC game. That’s the situation you want to be in: the ball’s in your hands in a one-possession game, and you go down and win the game and the game’s over.”
WHAT SHOULD LOCKER HAVE DONE INSTEAD? “I would say just go trust with what we’ve got, with the one-on-one matchup with Devin Aguilar, which is what we were looking for from the slot. He went with what had been going on in the game. And Jermaine had been having a heck of a game. But we were getting in those situations, we were getting a lot of man coverage. And that’s why I think you started to see Devin really start to make a lot of plays there in the fourth quarter on third down. We were getting man coverage, and we like Devin in the slot in that matchup. So we’ll learn from that. That’s part of learning and growing in this system. I don’t fault Jake for the decision he made, but hopefully next time we make a different decision and go with the matchup that we were looking for in the game plan.”
ANY SENSE OF URGENCY ABOUT GETTING TO A BOWL GAME? “It’s about this one right now. We’ve got to really focus on this game. As we’ve come to find out this year, week-in and week-out in the Pac-10 – you don’t know what’s going to happen. Nobody can sit here and say I know what’s going to happen this week in the Pac-10. We’re going to Corvallis to play a good Oregon State team. Their two conference losses are to Arizona and USC. Those happen to be our two conference wins, so I think there’s a lot of parity in this conference. There’s a great opportunity for us to go on the road and get a road win before the season is done. And that’s our focus.”
ON DONALD BUTLER’S HIT ON KEVIN PRICE: “My thought is – I understand what the game is trying to do and what football is trying to do in protecting quarterbacks and all those things. But the kid wasn’t sliding, the kid wasn’t diving. Donald tackled him. The kid was low, Donald went in low and tackled him. I understand why the penalty was called, but I have a hard time of what to tell him. I can’t tell him not to tackle the guy. It was a great hit. There wasn’t anything malicious about it. It wasn’t a cheap shot in any way. But I do understand why the penalty was called.”
ON UW’S PASS DEFENSE AGAINST UCLA: “It was a little frustrating that we didn’t pressure the quarterback better than we did. I think going in we thought we were going to get better pressure than we did. We thought coming in that we might be able to create some turnovers just because of the inexperience factor that they had at the quarterback position, which we were able to do. The unfortunate thing came on some of those 3rd and long conversions when if we matched up a little better in our route recognition they don’t convert those or he has to check the ball down and has to hold the ball a little longer so we might get to him to force some punts and some other things. I think our route recognition will only get better the more experience as we play and the more experience we have in our scheme of understanding zone dropping and what we’re doing.”
ANY WORRIES THE TEAM WILL LOSE CONFIDENCE? “We won’t let it happen. It won’t happen. It’s just a mindset. It’s a belief. It won’t happen. We have great leadership. Our coaches are tremendous leaders. We’ll address it head on, straight-up. It won’t happen. We’ll come out and play hard.”
ON THE TERRANCE AUSTIN INTERCEPTION AND WHY NO REVIEW WAS CALLED: “Well, I second guess the manner in which we went about it because the reality of it is I’ve looked at the TV copy since then and it’s hard to tell. I don’t think anyone in the room can tell you flat out ‘yeah, he dropped it.’ I think we all assume he did. But from the camera angle it’s tough to see. My understanding is they review every call and they had just reviewed our touchdown, they had just reviewed our turnover and the assumption is in the momentum of the game and that play, the funky nature in which the play occurred is that the play is going to get reviewed. And so as I was watching it unfold my assumption is that the play is going to get reviewed. It’s a tight ball game, I didn’t want to have to use a time out if I didn’t need to. But as it went to unfold, as they were getting ready to kick their extra point, I attempt to go down the sidelines and get a timeout and I’m not able to get it done. So how, when and if that thing got reviewed I don’t know if they were able to get it done that quick enough I’d be surprised if they were able to. But it wasn’t that I didn’t think the guy caught the ball. I wanted to challenge it to see what happened. We just didn’t get it donen in the time frame.
WHAT’S SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN ON THOSE PLAYS? “They are supposed to review every play, period. Every play is supposed to get reviewed especially anything that has the ramifications of points being put on the board, not put on the board and if they don’t have the tie to get it done that’s when they take an official’s time out and they take more time. That’s what my assumption was that that’s what was going to happen and it didn’t happen and it’s unfortunate. I don’t know if the play would have gotten reversed anyway. Not sure about that. But my assumption at the time was they were going to take an offficial’s time out and reverse the play.”
FURTHER ELABORATION OF NOT CALLING A TIME OUT THERE: “Just the momentum of what had happened and gone on in the play and you really try to get a rhythm with the review the officiating review person in the box of okay they are in review mode in this game they are going to be reviewing things so you assume that is going to happen. If there hadn’t been two other plays reviewed in the previous drive I would have called time out much quicker but you get into the feel and momentum of the game and okay this is going to get reviewed and when it didn’t we tried to call time out and couldn’t do it in time.”
TALKING ABOUT HIS STATEMENT AFTER THE USC GAME THAT THE TURNAROUND WILL HAPPEN QUICKLY: “I thought my estimation was when we get into these tight games we would find a way to win that would change our culture a little quicker. That we are a team that we expect to win, okay we’ve won the tight game against SC 16-13 right there at the end and that’s going to be who we become. We’re not at a point right now where we are going to go out and beat people by four touchdowns. We are a team that’s going to play tight football games and when you beat a team like Sc in the tight fashion we did I still maintain the fact that hey we are just gong to be this team we are going to play tight games and we are going to win the game late because we do things right. Unfortunately that hasn’t occurred, that trend hasn’t occurred for us, so that’s why I’m hesitant to go back and say it’s still going to happen as fast as I want it to because obviously we haven’t learned that value of the nuances of doing things right late in ball games that we were able to do against SC and unfortunately have not been able to do inn other games.”
ON QUICKLY LOSING THE NINE-POINT LEAD: “It’s funny. When we went up nine I called the team together on the sidelines because I didn’t want that to occur. I want our team to stay locked in. I remember talking to our kicking team and say ‘we’ve got to cover. Don’t give them one thing to change the momentum back. And we had been kicking the ball really well on our kickoffs, Erik has been really hitting the ball well and that’s why Terrance Austin is an All-Pac-10 return guy. He got a great return to really change the momentum and then they score 2-3 plays on that controversial play and ‘boom all the sudden the momentum went right back in their favor when we really made an attempt not to let that happen.”
WAS THAT THE WILDCAT YOU TRIED SATURDAY? “We don’t call it the Wildcat.I don’t know what anyone else calls it. It’s a nice trend. That was for this game. We had ran that play earlier in the year with the direct snap to Jake and Jake scored a touchdown on it. I did not want to run Jake up inside with his leg the way it was so we just switched Jake and /Chris and let Chris be the runner with the intent that man they wouldn’t recognize it the first time we did it. It’s been an effective play for us down there but I didn’t want to run Jake the way his leg was so we let Chris do the run.” He then said definitively that it’s not going to be a regular part of UW’s offense.
ASSESSMENT OF LOCKER’S PLAY SATURDAY? “I thought he performed well. I think there are some things from a mechanical standpoint that we will be able to clean up and I thought as the game went on you tend to forget you are injured as the game wears on he started to run the ball a little but more and making plays with his feet. I thought they did a nice job of really trying to contain him in the pocket, especially on third down, their pressures that they brought really kept him harnessed in the pocket and created some plays for them. But I thought he performed really well and was efficient with the football. It’s unfortunate the game ended the way it did because I think he was having another one of those magical drives that we might have went down and won the game again on a late field goal.”
ON THE SITUATION AT LEFT TACKLE: “We’ll evaluate it. I thought Drew Schaefer did some really nice things, Ben Ossai had some stomach problems throughout the game that he had to run to the bathroom and some different things that limited his reps. But when Schaefer was in there, he played upwards of 50 plays, he did a really nice job as a redshirt freshman. We’ll evaluate both of those two guys and see who gives us the best opportunity to be successful. They will both probably play.”
IS CHRIS POLK OKAY? “I think he’s okay. It will take a few days but he’s okay. It will take a few days but he’s okay. He took a pretty good shot and it creates some things where as a runner you get into the open field when you have sore ribs you almost want to protect them. I think you see it a couple of times where Chris gets in the open field and he wants to open up and get out and he almost protects himself a couple of times he didn’t want to take those extra shots but he ran really well for us. We thought going in we needed to throw the football at these guys because they are so good up front, and then utilize our draw game to take advantage of the pass rush, and Chris did a great job of running the draw and creating some big plays for us and getting in the open field I thought it worked well for us.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HIS USE SATURDAY? “Well, when you look at the way he got his yards. It came off of things that were set up by the pass, some of the formation things that we did . Every game takes on its own personality you have a game plan going in and the every game takes on its own personality. And the personality of this game was we tried to be efficient with our pas game and utilize the run game as our change up and it was a great changeup for us. Kind of our out pitch. If we were a pitcher that was our two-strike pitch. And the draw stuff worked good, the single back run stuff worked good for us. There are going to be games when we will rely on his run to set up our play action pass but this wasn’t the game. The way they play defense, the way they are built, this wasn’ that game.”
MORE ON THE USE OF POLK: “He had upwards of 15 carries for upwards of almost 140 yards and got a lot of chunks of yards on about his first 4-5 carries of the game. But to go up against that UCLA team the way we are built, the way they are built, to line up in I-right and try to run right at them was not to our advantage. Our advantage was to try to spread them out let Jake play catch and then slip runs at them and it worked well for us. Unfortunately we didn’t convert third downs or convert in the red zone or the tame takes on a different complexion. … I thought we did some good things with him.”

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