Story for the paper filed, it’s time our usual Monday two-step of wrapping up practice and throwing in a few nuggets from UW coach Steve Sarkisian’s radio show.
First, practice (yes, I’m talking about practice). …
— I detailed Jake Locker’s situation in the entry below. But all signs point to him being fine for Saturday, though as noted Keith Price got a lot more work today.
— WR Devin Aguilar did not do any of team drills but was in uniform (the team didn’t wear pads) and did some running around.
— LG Erik Kohler attended practice but just watched from the sideline and it remains unclear if he’ll be able to do anything this week.
— TE Michael Hartvigson was in red and Johri Fogerson again sat out, though he did some running on the side and appeared more nimble than in past weeks.
— As for the O-line, it look as if the Huskies are trying some different combinations to see if they can find some answers after Saturday’s game. One of the main lines used during Monday’s practice featured Greg Christine at center and Drew Schaefer at right tackle with Senio Kelemete at left tackle and Ryan Tolar at left guard with Colin Porter at right guard. There was also a line that featured Cody Habben at left tackle with Christine at LG, Schaefer at center, Tolar at RG and Daniel Kanczugoswki at RT. There’s often a lot of experimentation in practice, so I pass these along in that context. However, we haven’t seen quite that much shifting of the personnel up front in different weeks, so there appears to be some mixing and matching to try to maximize what they have and also account for Kohler’s absence.
Now for the coach’s show. …
— Asked about James Johnson, Sarkisian agreed that to date it just hasn’t been his year and said that “unfortunately for James he doesn’t play the same position as Devin Aguilar, so it’s not as if he gets to move up. But he’s been a real team guy working at it. … I wish we had more balls to go around for all these guys because they deserve it.”
— Asked about going for it on fourth down and whether missing on those plays can be demoralizing, he said that “I think there is also something to making fourth downs. There’s an uplift there, as well. We’re hitting about 67 percent on fourth down attempts in our time here, so if we’re going 2-3 that’s a pretty good margin. Our guys are understanding we are aggressive, especially when we’re in that no man’s land where it’s almost too close to punt.”
— He said a real issue Saturday was an inability to make much on first down. He didn’t give a number but said the first down efficiency “was as poor as it’s been throughout the year.” He said that “any completion on first down is a win and then you’re looking for four yards out of a rush, and our first down efficiency was just not very good.”
— Asked about not using Chris Polk more, he said that a couple issues were trying to get Jesse Callier involved more and falling behind. “The fourth quarter kind of disappeared on us because now we are down 10 and we’re forced to throw,” he said.
— He praised the play of both Polk and Callier saying that “I thought thought one and 24 brought the most juice to the game.”
— He said of ASU’s long punt return that they thought there was a block in the back that should have been called right at the start and that “then we missed two tackles and boom he’s out to the 50.”
— He talked about how close UW was to winning that game if a few plays turned out differently and said that “I showed the team a clip of about 14 plays in this ball game that are inches, a play here or there that if one, two or three go our way we are looking at a completely different ball game. … There is so much parity (in the Pac-10) that you’ve go to make your plays when you’ve got your opportunities because otherwise you are going to get beat.”
— Asked about the third-and-one pass on the first series of the game he said that he wanted to get a pass to Callier (that was dropped) into open space rather than run “vs. a loaded front inside.”
— He agreed with a caller that championship teams are built with strong defenses, especially on the line, and said that “unfortunately, we are not quite there yet, so we have to create pressure with linebackers and secondary pressures to rattle the quarterback. .. in turn you can give up some big plays when you have to pressure, pressure, pressure like we have been.”
— He said that “ultimately we’d like our ends to be real sack guys and get their sack numbers back up and we think we have some young guys who will grow into it.” UW has just two sacks from defensive ends this season.
— He talked about the defensive looks of Saturday that featured some additional nickel and dime packages and said that “we’re trying to get a little more speed on the field.” He also noted that Mason Foster lined up at times in what was essentially a defensive end position and “was able to rally to the ball and play in space and in turn able to get some pressure on the quarterback. All in all it’s something that we will stick with some.”
— Asked about Jermaine Kearse’s dropped passes, he said that “I don’t know if he was in the best state of health going into that game, and when Devin didn’t go I think he put a little more pressure on yourself, that ‘I’ve got to go make these plays now.’ … Jermaine might have put a little too much pressure on him.”
— He had a similar explanation for the recent struggles of Desmond Trufant when asked about the sophomore cornerback. “I think he’s putting too much pressure on himself, in all honesty.” Sarkisian said that Trufant is a “fantastic player” throughout the week of practice and that “our guys have a hard time getting open against him.” But that in games “at times he puts so much pressure on himself that he doesn’t play as loose and as capable as he’s playing. When you’re when tense like that you just don’t react the way you are capabale of.” He said that it has been talked about with Trufant and that he thinks Trufant will rebound with a big second half of the season.
— Asked about Kohler, he said the key thing now is Kohler “getting his energy back to where it needs to be.” His fever is gone so he can be around the team again.
— Asked about the fake field goal, he said again that the receiver appeared open but that Cody Bruns didn’t see him and that “we’ve just got to do a better job of coaching it.” He said he thought it was a good play to run against ASU’s FG block and that “it was there for a second but we just didn’t get it there.” He said due to being at the 31 that punting “didn’t make sense to me.”