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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

July 29, 2010 at 3:44 PM

Sark bites from Pac-10 media day

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UW coach Steve Sarkisian and linebacker Mason Foster addressed reporters on the podium at Pac-10 media day here at the Rose Bowl Thursday (seen in an AP picture to the right).
Later, Sarkisian talked a lilttle more informally with a few reporters while having lunch. It was the first time he’s addressed the dismissal of tight end Kavario Middleton and the addition of linebacker/defensive end Josh Shirley. He touched on those subjects, as well as UW’s backup QB situation and a number of other topics (and hopefully you see some of the questions I requested from you on the blog last night asked here, as well). Here are some highlights:
On the tight end spot without Middleton: “I look at it as if at the end of spring Chris Izbicki was our starter and we still have our starter. All the credit in the world goes to Chris. He’s put in the time and the effort on and off the field to continue to excel. Obviously he doesn’t have a wealth of experience catching the football. But he did play quite a bit for us last year so it’s not going to be new to him this year going on the field and playing.”
On the difficulty of making the decision with Kavario: “For me, we are in this thing, we all want to win games but we are all here to foster an environment that allows for young men to grow and get better not only on the field, but in the class room and off the field as well, and you hate to get into a situation where you feel like you could potentially be viewed as giving up on somebody. But for the good of our football program and the other 104 guys on our team and our coaching staff, it was the right thing to do.”
And right for Kavario in the long run as well?: “I hope (it is) for him. But for us, I can’t put everything solely based on one individual. That’s not fair to the other guys putting in the blood, the sweat, the tears. So that’s why you have to make these tough decisions.”
Was there any hesitation in going after Josh Shirley: “None, none. Well, the hesitation was making sure I was getting to the facts of the situation, the incident that occurred. But in knowing him through the recruiting process, getting to know his family, having him on our campus for his official visit, being in his living room with his father, his grand mother — on numerous occasions for our assistant coaches — we got to know the kid well enough to know that that incident was not indicative of his true character. And put in an environment we think he is going to come here and excel not only on the football field but in the class room and in his personal life. … We had recruited him for over a year. I was there (at his house) once for five-and-a-half hours. I know his father, grandmother his brothers, his sister. And as I looked at the incident and the kid and the family, in my opinion the incident is not indicative of his true character and how he was raised. I just thought when he gets around our environment and our people, he’s going to excel in all three areas that matter — in the class room, his personal life and the football field. So that’s why we did it. … To think that every mistake anyone has ever made that they don’t get another opportunity in my opinion is not fair. In my opinion kids need a second opportunity, a second chance, especially if no one is physically harmed in it, no one is truly mentally harmed in it. And I don’t think that happened in this case. ”
Whether he worried about the impact on the rest of the team: “I’m trying to build a program. Whether it be to medical or academic or discipline issues, we’ve lost 19 players since I’ve taken over that are not part of our locker room anymore. So we are trying to build this locker room and team and culture — the last thing I want to do is bring in someone who is not going to fit and embody the things that we want.”
Did it matter at all that it was UCLA and Rick Neuheisel that had kicked him out of school, or was it just looking at this specific kid and this case: “It was the kid and the case, if he was at Florida and that happened we would have done the same thing.”


Thoughts on potentially not playing a regular season game each year in Los Angeles: “The most important time to be here is early January because that’s the one that really, really matters. The other ones, it’s great that your family can come see you play, but with the age of television, the internet, the ability to see a game on TV or the computer is not that difficult anymore. So I think it’s important — I’m not trying to downplay it that way, that it’s not — but it’s not the end of the world if we’re not here every year.”
On the health of defensive ends Kalani Aldrich and Everrette Thompson: “They are both working out now. “They both look good. I think we’ll obviously approach this with some caution. We are not going to kill those guys. The goal is to get them to play against BYU on Sept. 4, not just to play for three weeks of training camp and not be prepared to play for the season. So we’ll try to keep them fresh, we’ll monitor every rep they have. But we are counting on them playing for us this fall.”
So do you plan going forward as if they will play?: “They are there. Are they going to be 75 or 80-snap a game guys? Probably not. But that’s okay because it gives us enough depth with Talia (Crichton), with Cameron (Elisara), with De’Shon (Matthews), with Alameda (Ta’amu), Semisi (Tokolahi), with Chris Robinson coming along. And then the influx of our new kids, the depth really to me is not going to be an issue once we get going and we teach the system to our young guys.”
On whether any of the incoming offensive linemen will play: “We’ll make a fair and quick assessment, as quick as we can in training camp, not only from a physical aspect but a mental aspect. It’s not a nececssity for us for all those freshmen to play. It’s not a necessity for us to redshirt all of those guys. We’ll probably get a decent mix of it and the ones that play will contribute and the ones that don’t will get better.”
On the spring of Will Shamburger: “He was impressive. He was probably more physical than I thought he’d be. Most guys when they come off an injury there is some hesitation, which he had. But he showed a real physical nature, not to mention the ball hawking ability. But in the box fitting the run game, I thought that was an area where he was probably even better at than I gave him credit for initially.”
On the trip to New York and whether he had been there before: “It was my third trip. And the other two was one night each for the Heisman stuff (when USC QBs won the awards). But this was a great trip. My wife went with me and we spent a few days prior to mandatory being there and we had a great time. I really enjoyed it. It’s a fascinating city.”
On how the 10 Pac-10 coaches got along during the travel: “I thought we all really got along well. Guys didn’t get into X’s and O’s that much, but there was some good dialogue and converstation about some different things. I thought all and all that the guys had a lot of fun doing it and everyone might have gotten a little bit tired there at the end, but all in all it was a good trip.”
Do coaches talk about recruiting battles won and lost against each other in such settings?: “Not really. It’s just kind of the tact involved that you know the things not to ask about, and if you do or if something does want to get brought up it’s talked about maybe on the side and not in front of the group.”
On his boat: “I have a Cobalt 262. I’d never had a boat before and it is awesome. I enjoy it more and more every time. … Taking it to work is an amazing thing to do. (He said he took it to work about three times a week during the summer, and that the ride lasts 15 minutes or so).
On whether Nick Montana will play or redshirt this season: “I don’t know that yet. He was very impressive (in the spring). As much as the physical things are there — and there are some mistakes and he’s getting better and strong — but he had a real presence in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage. Not that he did everything right, but he just had a presence about him that tells you that he’s got a bright future. How fast he can get to perofmring at a high level still remains to be seen.”
On Erik Kohler and whether he can play immediately: “I think physically Erik looks like he could compete right away. But until I get him (in practice) I don’t know. But he comes from a very good program at Oaks Christian. He’s been very well coached. He’s worked hard in the weight room to get prepared for this. So he’ll get every opportunity to show what he can do.”
On whether there will be any position switches to add depth at tight end: “As of right now, no. But we’ll experiment and there will be a guy there for a day or two, back and forth. We’ll look at it. I thought the move to fullback in the spring (of Dorson Boyce) was really to help the fact that when we can have Dorson and Chris out there together we can be much more multiple and be a team that’s in two tight-end sets and also in a two-back formation. And that was really why we went to that move in the spring to get to that point where we have an interchangeable offense.”
On how much 3-4 defense UW might use: “We’re going to keep parts of it. With the addition of guys like Josh Shirley, Brent Williams, these hybrid defensive ends that can rush the passer really well, that will allow us to do more of it, especially as we move into the future of the program.”
On naming a backup QB: “I don’t know if we have to. For those two guys, regardless of if one guy gets a little bit ahead or not, I want them both to be hungry and competing. It’s not an easy thing to be a backup quarterback and prepare mentally day after day after day. All the sudden one guy becomes a third guy, how is he preparing now? And we might need all three of those guys this year, we don’t know. So we are going to keep them all hungry and excited to play, If I name one, I name one. If I don’t, I don’t. It’s not on the forefront. We’re bringing three guys (on the road) anyway.”
On the team’s physical condition: “We look good. Seen guys coming in and out of my office this summer and walking around, we’ got a lot more guys wearing tanktops this summer that are prouod of their bodies. To me we are a better looking football team, that’s a tribute to Ivan (Lewis) and his staff and what they’ve done in the strength and conditioning department. But that doesn’t necessarily translate to W’s, so now we’ve got to go play football.”
On Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier playing this season: “I would imagine definitely in the special teams return game and things of that area, and we will continue to find the things that they do well to enable them the opportunities to play. By them playing well it will help Chris (Polk) fresh throughout the season, allow for Chris to create bigger plays so that he is fresh and can break tackles in the secondary. Be good changeups for Chris. It’s a nice competition there right now.”
On winning road games, something UW hasn’t done since 2007: “We’ll try to be creative in practice to try to simulate some of those things (crowd noise, etc.). But utliatmtely it’s a mindset and being metntally tough enough to deal with the distractions and the adversity on the road. The toughest one to get is going to be the first one. Once you can get the first one then you can gget the second one. But this first one, whenever it’s going to occur is the toughest one to get.”
On the structure of camp and whether it will be any different this year: “It will be very, very similar. They’ll be open (to the public) and we’ll hit enough so that we are physical. But again we are going to get to week one as a fresh football team.”

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