Pictured is the front of the Week Two post card the school is sending to national football media types this week as part of its season-long Jake Locker promotional campaign.
If the one UW sends out next week is also following a victory and a four-touchdown passing performance by Locker, then the Heisman thing may again be something worth worrying about.
As always, Monday is also the day for Steve Sarkisian’s weekly press conference.
As for personnel news, really not much. He said he hopes Johri Fogerson (who sat out with a hip flexor) comes back this week but that “we’ll see how it goes.”
He said he hopes to get James Johnson more involved than last week (and remember, Johnson did play at the end of the game and made a catch). And he said Cameron Elisara (quad) should be fine but may be limited early in the week. And both Sarkisian and Locker said Locker’s left hand — which was bruised in Saturday’s game — is fine and won’t require any limitations this week.
Otherwise, no new injuries.
Here are some of the highlights:
OPENING STATEMENT: “I can’t believe it’s week 3 already. The season goes fast. Just to recap the Syracuse game, having a chance to look at the film, just to reiterate some of the things we touched on after the game. Really impressed with our team’s mental toughness, the way that game started, falling behind 10-0 in the first quarter and not panicking, continuing to stay the course. And it wasn’t like we hit a bunch of big plays, we jumped right back into the lead. It was methodical to get a couple of field goals, get a touchdown and the defense getting some stops, so I was really impressed with our guys. The defense, looking at the film, really played well, 3 sacks, 2 turnovers, really held Syracuse, 5 of 16 on third down, really played well, and to think the two touchdowns they scored came off of the facemask penalty on punt return and then the turnover by the offense in the red zone was really how they got their two touchdowns. So I thought all in all they played well. Offensively I was really impressed with the passing game. obivously Jake and his connection with Jermaine Kearse, Devin Aguilar, there was nice precision in the passing game. I thought Chris Polk had a nice ball game outside of the fumble, I thought he really ran well. I was happy for him he finally snapped off that elusive long run that hopefully breaks the dam and can lead to more. It was good to get Colin Porter and Erik Kohler some real live reps with the offensive line at guard. They will only continue to imrpove and get them in more. I love the fact our third down precentage went up from where we were in week one. We were 9 of 18 in this ball game to help extend drives, which is where we should be — we should be a 50 percent third down conversion team. So that was well and it was good to get explosive plays, anytime you can get explosive plays to change field position and score points was a big factor.
“On special teams Erik Folk was 2 for 2 on field goals, I guess it’s just normal now to expect that he goes and makes his field goals. He’s like a pro. I thought for Kiel Rasp making his first kind of start as the punter we couldn’t have asked for more out of him than what he did and i think he’ll contiue to improve and I think our young guys got better as the game went on in all phases fo speical teams. I know we’re taking some penalties, especially early in the ball game but they’ll continue ot get better and improve so all in all with that ball game really really impressed with the energy our team brought our coaches brought, our players brought and the effort our kids played with was excellent i thought. Where we perfect? By no means were we perfect. But we played hard had good energy, I was excited about that.”
ON NEBRASKA: “I think this is probably a top 5 well coached team in America. i have the upmost respect for Bo Pelini and his staff and what they do in all three phases. Defensively, this is as sound a defense as I have seen in 10 years playing against really good teams. They are extremely sound, they play together, they play hard, they are all over you in the run game, they are all over you in routes. They do an excellent job of route reading, seeing which routes are coming, and jumping those routes, that’s why they create so many turnovers, and offensively they’ve changed their approach some. They’ve got a freshman quarterback in Taylor Martinez that can really run. they spread you out and cause a lot of problems for you. We’ll be counting on our crowd and our fans and we’ll be counting on husky stadium as always when we’re at home. I’m a big guy in looking at facts and trying to find things that really matter that we can give to our team and you look at our last three ball games at home our opponents have had 9 pre-snap penalties on offense in the last three ball games combined. That’s 7 false starts and 2 delay of games and that’s a tribute to our fans and the energy and enthusiasm they bring that not only does our team feed off of but also has an effect on our opponents. We’ll be calling on all our Dawgs to bring it on Saturday.”
ON NEBRASKA’S SECONDARY: “The first thing they do is they play a lot of DBs. At times they’ll have 7 DBs on the field together. and by doing that they are able to cover a lot of ground and they understand your route concepts really well. And when they know they go, which I think is a unique trait for a DB to have, and it seems like their entire secondary has it. When they know a route is coming they go get it and in turn that’s how you end up getting five interceptions in a game.”
DO YOU EMBRACE THIS CHANCE TO GET SOME NATIONAL RECOGNITION IF YOU BEAT NEBRASKA? “I just went them to prepare very well and go out and prepare close to our abilities, if not at our capabilities. I’m not concerned about the exposure part of it. That comes with wins and wins over time and consistency over time. My concern is, I just want to see us maximize an opportunity. We’ve got to go out and play against a really good football team at Husky Stadium, in front of our fans and our friends and our family, and to perform in the way that we are capable of performing. I think if we do that, I don’t know if that’s necessarily going to result in a win or not — they could perform that their abilities, and who knows what’s going to happen. So I think the challenge for us is to embrace the opportunity and then prepare really well. And we’ve got to prepare really well today, and then worry about tomorrow tomorrow, and Wednesday Wednesday and Thursday Thursday and so on and so forth.
“I think that our team has gotten to that point. We’ve continually talked about that as we go on and on and continue to move forward as a program: Not to worry about the end results of a season. Don’t worry about a bowl game. Don’t worry about exposure. Don’t worry about awards. Worry about the task at hand and what’s in front of us. And this week it happens to be Nebraska.”
HOW DID THE WIDE RECEIVERS GRADE OUT ON A WHOLE? “Oh, I thought our receivers were the MVPs of that game Saturday. Obviously, what Jermaine did catching the ball and the touchdowns. I thought Devin had a fantastic game, six catches I think almost 80 yards, big third-down conversions. But you look at what all of those guys did in their perimeter blocking. Jermaine, Devin, then you add Cody Bruns in there, you add Devin Aguilar (I think he meant to say D’Andre Goodwin there), these guys were on the perimeter, they were getting guys on the ground, they were cutting, and in turn that had an effect over time I thought on Syracuse’s secondary. They were tired of guys blocking them. They were tired of getting cut. That, in my opinion, is what created some of our big plays in the second half.”
HAS THE BLOCKING BY RECEIVERS IMPROVED THIS YEAR?: “If I showed you last year Game Two with those same guys, it’s not even close. These guys have really taken on and embraced the opportunity to block. In the weight room, their numbers have gone through the roof. They want to be a physical group. They want to get after guys. And in the end, the result is they are performing well and it’s a want-to, not a have-to.”
ON THE TIGHT ENDS: “Well I think one, our playmakers right now are our wide receivers and our running backs. I’m not going to force an issue not to get them the ball to get it somewhere else. Part of it has to do with some of the schemes we are facing and where opportunities lie. And the third thing is, we’ve had some opportunities and the ball just hasn’t quite gone there. I think it’s a variety of times. In time, that number I think will grow as we face different teams and people play us a little differently.”
ON WHAT HE TOLD KEARSE AFTER THE BYU GAME: “I said, ‘Don’t try too hard.’ Sometimes when a guy doesn’t have the best game of his career – you know, he struggles a little bit – he can come out and try too hard. Jermaine’s a great football player. He’s very smart, we’re able to play him all over the field and line him up at different positions. We were going to get him the ball and get him going. I just said, ‘Just let the game come to you; you’re going to get your opportunities.’ And I thought he did that.”
ON THE UNIQUENESS OF NEBRASKA’S DEFENSE: “Well, they’re a two-gap defense, and nobody in our conference really plays a two-gap defense, meaning their defensive tackles are playing two gaps, not one, where they’re forcing a play. They’ll sit and get their hands on offensive linemen. They’re big, strong, powerful guys that have the ability to throw linemen to make their plays. And by doing so, they’re able to play with a lot of two-high-safeties look, and they can cover down and double coverage guys and it makes it a tough task.”
ON WHAT TO DO SCHEMATICALLY AGAINST SEVEN DBS: “One, you’d like to think you have better odds of running the football, but they hold up pretty well. The minus is, they’ve got defensive backs not only covering your wide receivers but covering your tight ends and covering your running backs out of the backfield. So they’re able to stay close to guys. There’s not a lot of error, not a lot of room to throw balls. So there’s a real onus on the quarterback to know what coverage it is and anticipate throws and be accurate.”
ON TAYLOR MARTINEZ: “Yeah, I knew him very well. We recruited him; we looked at him hard. He’s a tremendous athlete. He led his high school team, Corona Centennial, to a state championship and a 15-0 season. He’s a good football player. I actually was at the championship game, the one to win the CIF championship, I went to that ball game. He’s a talented kid, a great athlete. I think it was somewhat of a steal for Nebraska because I think so many people viewed him as just an athlete, and possibly people were recruiting him as a safety or different position, and not just a quarterback. It’s a credit to Coach Pellini and his staff to really view him as a quarterback. And he’s turned out to be a nice player for him.”
ANY SIMILIARITIES TO LAST YEAR’S USC GAME, ALSO BEING GAME THREE AND BEING 1-1 AT THE TIME? “I think last year we were a football team that was gradually getting better in all three phases. It’s very similar in that we’ll be facing another great defense. That defense for SC last year, especially early, was playing at a very high level – and obviously Nebraska’s doing that as well. It’s similar in the fact in that it’s a quarterback for the opponent that’s making his first career road start. So there are some obvious similarities. But then there are a lot of differences as well: different schemes, different relationships on both staffs. So there’s kind of both.”
ON SEAN PARKER RETURNING KICKOFFS: “He’ll continue to grow in his playing time, there’s no doubt. I like Sean. I think he’s understanding the style of play that we’re demanding of him. In turn, his effort, his ability to focus and not take snaps off, his continue to grow, not only on Saturdays but in practice. He’s going to earn his playing time, there’s no doubt.”
ON HAVING PARKER RETURN KOS LAST WEEK: “Not having Johri last week didn’t help. We really went in having Chris (Polk) and Jesse (Callier), and you take a couple (injury) hits on kickoff return, now we’re really thin. I wanted to take that off of (Polk) there, because Johri being out. Sean did that in high school – he was a kickoff return guy. And then if he doesn’t get the ball, he’s such a physical kid he can be a great lead blocker, so that is why he’s back there.”