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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 13, 2010 at 5:25 PM

Monday night practice and radio show notes — Sark talks about play-calling

A light practice for the Huskies today at the stadium that didn’t elicit any real news. Chris Polk basically sat out for what was said to be rest, something the team does commonly with regulars. Otherwise, nothing really new.
After practice, I again headed up to Steve Sarkisian’s radio show, now held in the Don James Center each Monday afternoon.
And the most interesting aspect of that might have been a fairly long discussion of play-calling and Sark’s role as the play-caller for the Huskies.
Sarkisian, asked if he envisions ever giving up play-calling, said “not in the near future. I love calling football plays. I like being involved in the game and having a real imapct in the game. I like looking in the quarterback’s eyes when he comes off the field and let him know what we are doing and why we are doing it and I get a really good pulse from him.”
Sarkisian said he thought a “classic example” of the advantage to being the head coach and on the field and calling plays came Saturday when Jake Locker bruised his left hand late in the game and Sarkisian was able to look him in the eyes and talkk to him.
“He wanted to reiterate to me that he’s fine,” Sarkisian said. “I’m cautions, I’m thinking I need him next week. He said he’s fine so I called two passes in a row and bang, bang it’s a touchdown. So that’s part of the advantage of being there, calling the plays, and I just love doing it. So for now, I’m doing it.”
Sarkisian said he doesn’t think it detracts from handling overall game-management duties in part because he leaves the defense entirely to Nick Holt. “That’s his baby,” Sarkisian said. “I let him go do it.”
He also pointed out that even though he calls the plays, play-calling is a function of the entire week of meetings with the assistants, and that the assistants have input during the game itself, as well. He said that the writing he does during games on his chart is to mark off plays he has called but also to highlight plays that the coaches discuss during the game they want to make sure get called.
“It’s a group effort,” he said. “We all believe in what we are doing and it comes after tremendous hours of work and effort and preparation and we all feel good about and I wouldn’t do it if we didn’t all feel good about it.”
He also noted that sometimes plays are called to set up plays later in game, such as a run early in the game to get the safety to come up and then make the play-action work more effectively later.
He joked that all the plays feel good when he calls them but that he second-guesses some of them later. He said he often watches not only the game film but also the TV copy, saying sometimes “you get a better feel for the game” watching it on TV, and noticing things that weren’t as evident on the field.
Here are some other notes from the radio show:
— Asked whether the team might have a surprise with the uniforms Saturday (a reference to the rumors that the team could wear black), he said “well it wouldn’t be a surprise if i told you, right? I love our uniforms, and obviously we’ve switched some things up. Sometimes as coaches we are a little superstitious. I don’t know what’s going to happen this weekened but I do know that the white pants at home are 3-0.”
— Asked about the blocking on punts, he said that “it made me nervous too, trust me. The whole thing witih the punt, what can happen to you is we were so concerned about the punter that at times the protection got lost in it. We were not great in protection Saturday. It’s been an emphasis already today shoring things up inside.”
— He acknowledged that the kickoff coverage could also be better and said he thinks the issue is that there are a lot of younger players on that unit that are “feeling their way down the field instead of running down the field.” He said he thinks it will get better as the young players get more comfortable.
— He said he liked that Chris Polk got 20 carries and Jesse Callier eight and said “all in all, the numbers were where I wanted them to be.”
— He said he liked the way the fly sweep plays looked Saturday, noting they are a good way to take advantage of the way that defenses are pinching inside to contain Locker. He said a key to making them work is the blocking of the receivers downfield, which as he did in his earlier press conference, he said has improved markedly this year.
— He said if teams continue to try to focus on stopping Locker’s running “we’ll let the other players get out on the perimeter and make their plays.”
— There was talk of the one option play the team ran down near the goal line early in the game and Sarkisian said it had worked better during the week in practice than it did during the game. He said it’s a play he wants to have in UW’s regular rotation and that “it will be something we will continue to work on.”
— Former UW coach Jim Lambright attended the show and talked for a segment about his memories of past Washington-Nebraska games. He said of the 1992 game at Husky Stadium that “the setting was marvelous, the stadium was full, the press box was rocking. Because I had my defensive coordinator’s seat up there in the press box, that was always a fun place because you rolled just like you were out on a boat in the middle of the ocean.”

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