A festive atmosphere for the Steve Sarkisian coaches show, and a better atmosphere at practice today at Husky Stadium for us media types — no more Tribute to Troy blaring over the speakers.
Also a few new faces at practice as the Huskies have added a couple of walk-ons. One we got the name for is punter Evan Steinruck of Lake Stevens, who will apparently now become the emergency punter and backup Kiel Rasp.
Johri Fogerson again sat out practice with a hip injury and also out were Cameron Elisara (shoulder stinger) and Kevin Smith. But everyone else appeared able to go.
After about a one-hour no-pads practice (cut a little shorter than the usual Monday practice, likely to keep the team as fresh as possible after a physical game against USC) Sarkisian headed to the Founder’s Club for his radio show.
Here are a few notes from the shows:
— Sarkisian reiterated a point that he made during his earlier press conference that he thought he might have erred a year ago in how he approached the aftermath of the USC and will do it differently this season. Last year, he said, he felt he needed to bring the team back down to earth and he said “I might have beat them back down. … In a way, I talked our kids back down.” He said this year, the approach will be that “this is where we are supposed to be, this is how we are supposed to play. We’ll see how it goes.”
— Sarkisian said that given the dropped passes and other errors that he thinks UW “left maybe 100 yards out there that we could have had. … the beauty of that is that there is room to get better and continue to improve.” UW had 537 yards as it was, the most of the Sarkisian era.
— Asked about the thought behind the 26-yard Chris Polk run that set up the winning field goal, he noted that UW got to the line quickly following the fourth-down pass completion and that USC “stayed in a three-man odd front and had a huge void on the (left) side and we ran a power play” to take advantage of it.
— Asked about the success of the offensive game plan, he said that “I really felt like as the game went we knew what their answers were going to be and we were calling plays for their answers.” But he said knowledge of USC’s team wasn’t a huge part of that noting that the defense has changed a little bit under Monte Kiffin. “We just did a nice job of stuyding their film, and what they had done before and looked at what people had been doing to defend us and had things ready to attack that, and our kids executed really well.”
— He again lauded the play of Jake Locker and how he rebounded from the struggles against Nebraska. “For him to turn around and overcome (all the talk about) how lousy he was and how much money he’s lost and that he’s not a big-time player at critical moments. … for him to continually bounce back and make his plays is impressive.”
— He said the throw Locker made to D’Andre Goodwin on fourth down was one he might not have made in earlier years and said it was a sign of how much better he is keeping his head looking forward and finding receivers. He also said that “the threat of his running might have sucked them in” and helped create openings for the receivers.
— He said he was really proud of Goodwin for also battling back from a tough 2009. “Last year was not the easiest year for him,” and that he thought he was proud of the way he fell down the depth chart and then fight back. He said Goodwin is also “blocking extremely well” right now.
— Asked about the defense again the run, he said: “It was frustrating on a couple different fronts. First play of the game we were misaligned and out of our gaps and, boom, there was a long run. So there was some of that involved. … But all in all, I thought as the game wore on we started to hunker down, and to hold them to the two field goal tries in the fourth quarter were huge stops by our defense. But there are moments you’d like to have back where you don’t align right and don’t tackle.”
— Of Cameron Elisara, he said: “He’s doing okay. He had a stinger and couldn’t get the strength back in his arm keep. So we’ll keep Everrette (Thompson) in there (at tackle) and have to assess Cameron as we go through the week.”
— In talking about the special teams he noted something I neglected to mention but that was obvious on Saturday, that there were more regulars on some of the special teams’ units. He talked specifically of Mason Foster and Nate Williams each expanding their special teams duties and said “those guys didn’t come off the field, and that’s what it’s going to take. We need everybody to go play put it all out there and see what happens.”
— Of the one long KO return USC had, he said that Jesse Callier made a couple nice plays but is also still getting used to that duty and that on the long return, USC switched things up and it took Callier a second to “recognize what it was and that created a seam. I think we are getting better, but we just can’t give up a big one, especially this week against Arizona State, they are a good return team.”
— In answering a question I couldn’t hear, Sarkisian talked about how much he enjoys his job. “I enjoy every second of every day of my job. And I know there are head coaches out there that feel the stress of their jobs, but I love what I do and I’m passionate about it and I work with great people. … I relish this opportunity and I embrace it very single day — especially in the summer when I am boating to work.”
— Asked about USC’s defense giving up a lot of yards lately, he said that “they are young in some key spots. But I like to give us some credit. We spread some things out and attacked them vertically and did some things to make them hesitate for a second and make us play faster.”
— He said that the entire unit should get credit for the final field goal, noting that USC has blocked three kicks this year and that the snap by Brendan Lopez and hold by Cody Bruns were perfect.
— He said the goal on the last drive was to get to the 30-yard-line. “We wanted to get to the 30. When we started the drive it was, ’30-yard line, left hash, let’s go.”’