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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 23, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Monday Sark bites

Here’s a bit of what UW coach Steve Sarkisian had to say at today’s weekly press luncheon:
On whether there’s any chance UW will overlook WSU: “Not a chance, not a chance at all. To think they’ve won two in a row, that our players have been part of it. Our seniors are trying to go out with a winning fashion in this rivalry. To think where we are as a program – both programs trying to build to get better, not only for this year, but the future – we don’t have room to take anyone lightly.”
On whether he thinks his players are looking at the Cougars and thinking it’s a sure win: “I just tell them that they are probably looking at us and saying the same thing.”


On who is coaching him up for his first Apple Cup: “Well, I’ve done a few history lessons. To have Johnny Nansen (now UW’s defensive line coach but a WSU player from 1993-96) on staff, who played in it for the opposing team, and to be around obviously a lot of people here that have been part of this rivalry, it’s a special one. It means a lot to everybody involved – neighbors, friends of the family. So, it’s exciting. It doesn’t take long to realize the importance of this game from a standpoint of what it means to this state, to this community. It’s exciting. I’m glad, for me, to have the first one here at Husky Stadium, I’m glad we get to experience it that way.”
On whethere there is any worse feeling than losing a rivalry game at home: “Losing it on their field (laughter). It doesn’t feel much better. One of the worst losses I’ve ever endured was at USC a few years back. We were supposed to win that game, and potentially go to the national title (game). We went to UCLA and lost 13-9 – a horrible feeling. You lose, but then you lose to your rival, so you hear about it. So I think that’s why they’re special. A lot of it is about bragging right, not just the fans involved, but players. There’s a lot that goes into this thing. Again, the pageantry of rivalries, to think people are talking about the great games of the past, (TV stations) are airing them all week long so people can relive those moments. The special moments for people that remember where they were, ‘Oh, I was at that game, or I was at grandma’s house watching it’ or whatever it may be. This game has the opportunity to be that again for more than just the players involved, but for a lot of people involved. It’s a special memory.”
On being a 26-point favorite this Saturday: “We won’t even talk about it. We won’t talk about when we’re underdogs and we don’t talk about it when we’re favored. Football is played between the lines, man. We put a lot of time and effort into it. We try to prepare, mentally and physically, as best we can. There are a lot of emotions involved. But the bottom line is, that football’s shaped a certain way for a reason. You don’t always know which way it’s going to bounce. You don’t always know how a guy might get the ball popped out and stripped, a dropped pass, a tipped interception. It’s a crazy game. And that’s the beauty of it. And that’s why we play it. If it were just up to oddsmakers, then we would never play a game, and everyone would know what was going to happen. So we won’t even address it. We know we’re going to be in for a dogfight.”
On his biggest worry about the game: “That we get so caught up in it emotionally that we just don’t go out and perform the way we’re capable of performing. That’s always a challenge when you get into rivalry games like this. The thing I’m excited about with this is we haven’t been back to Husky Stadium for five weeks. We’re excited about it, we’re anticipating a great crowd, an energetic crowd. A lot of Cougar fans will be there, and it should make for a great atmosphere. But with that comes a lot of emotion, and then you tie in the fact that it’s a rivalry game, here comes even more emotion. If you get caught up in what’s going on around you, you might miss what’s right in front of you. And that’s the task at hand for that snap. You’ve got to block, you’ve got to catch, you’ve got to run, you’ve got to tackle. You have to execute.”
On what he sees in WSU: “I’m seeing a team that is starting, I think, to find their identity, somewhat. I thought they played a pretty tough game against, as we’ve come to find out, a very good Oregon State team. They played hard on defense, they’ve changed some things up, they’ve gotten into some odd-front things in pressuring the quarterback. And they did a nice job of getting after (OSU QB Sean) Canfield. They’re a team that’s now gotten their five offensive linemen back. They started to protect the quarterback well last week. They gave up only one sack against, as we know, a good front from Oregon State. They’ve got a nice running back in Dwight Tardy, a guy that I’ve seen run extremely well and who I think is only going to run better with the offensive line getting solidified the way it is. And I see a young quarterback in Jeff Tuel, a guy who’s playing at a high level because he’s just playing and he’s not worried about what’s going on around him. So they’re a team that’s getting guys back healthy. We don’t exactly know who’s going to be on what side of the ball, offense-defense. So we just know we’re going to be in for a tough game. We’ve got to prepare well and expect this thing to be physical and emotional, and not get caught up in the emotions of the game but stay locked in and play really good football.”
Any personnel news of note? “No, we are hoping to get E.J. (Savannah) back. He has not been cleared yet so we will see. Hoping to get Cameron Elisara back — that is a wait and see, as well. But everything else is status quo.”
How about Jason Wells? “Looks great. Had a nice practice last night and expect him to be full go.”
How about Nate Fellner: “Fellner is good. He had bicep thing but he’s going to be able to get through the year which is encouraging. It was not a complete tear it was a partial tear of the bicep so he will be okay to go.”
On the most important accomplishments of the bye week: “Well, there were a few things. The first is, again our young guys. The realization of not going to a bowl game solidifies the fact that you are not going to get those 15 practices in December where you get your young guys a lot of reps, so it was important to get the Tim Tuckers, the Marlion Barnetts, the Jordan Wallaces, the Keith Prices, all the reps we can get to get their stuff on film so we know what we need to work on heading into the off-season and into spring ball to get them more prepared and in a position to battle and compete and help us win. Two is the really look at what are we doing well on both sides of the ball, what do we need to get better at so we can perform at a high level these last two weeks of the season at Husky Stadium. From a football standpoint that was huge. And then getting on the road recruiting for a few days knowing we had an opportunity to get out into southern California with the playoffs going was big as well.”
On attempts to rectify the red-zone issues during the bye week: “We’ve had opportunities where we have been down there. You go back and look at the season and see those missed opportunities and that’s a difference in three wins, possibly more. Our efficiency on defense on third and long and getting off the field has been huge. So there has been an emphasis placed on that. A lot of third down work last week for us. And then just continuing on the road of being a physical football team. I think, it didn’t show up as much at Oregon State as we would have liked. But I think we’ve become more of a belief in being physical and running the football and stopping the run and that’s going to help shape us in the future, and we cant let that drift and change as these last few weeks come. The wins and losses haven’t shown up the way we would have liked to the last four weeks or so, but the bottom line is I think we are doing some things in the run game on both sides of the ball that are encouraging. And we have to stay on it and not be okay with it, that we can get better.”
On what has gone wrong in the red zone: “Well, I think part of it is a little bit from a coaching standpoint of a lack of belief in who we are there. I think the teams that are really good in the red zone know what they want. They know what they want to run and they have a huge belief in the players on the field to get it executed even if it’s not the look that you want, that the quarterback is going to know where to go with the ball, the route adjustment is going to be right, or in the run game the look isn’t quite what we want but we are going to make these adjustments right. Because whey you are in the red zone, that field shrinks and it gets tight and it gets hard and it’s not as easy in the passing game and in the run game so you’ve got to be prepared to adjust on the move on the fly, and I think at times this year we have somewhat reached and grabbed for things that are nice concepts and are good plays and all but we didn’t have the expertise at them from a schematic standpoint, from a players’ view of ‘man, no matter what they give we are going to go execute it well.’ Yeah, it looks good vs. this coverage but we didn’t always get that coverage and now, ‘oh we didn’t execute it the way we wanted to and now we are settling for field goals.’ So the ability to get to things that we believe in no matter what defense we are getting we are going to execute it really well, that’s how you get efficient.”

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