The Huskies are done with their first practice since the Stanford disaster Monday.
As is typical for a Monday, it was a 90-minute affair indoors and not in pads. UW coach Steve Sarkisian says the team will practice outside for the heavy contact days of Tuesday and Wednesday but that he likes to go indoors on Monday, which is designed in large part to clean up mistakes made in the previous game, and that that is easier to do without the distraction of the rain.
No real personnel surprises. Some continued shuffling of the right side of the line with Greg Christine also getting work at guard, but that’s to be expected. No new injuries apparent, and the rest of the lineups looked pretty much status quo.
Keith Price ran the first team offense, and got most of the snaps throughout practice, with Jake Locker watching from behind helping to chart plays. Looked like Luther Leonard was helping run the scout team. The former HS QB turned receiver is a bigger presence and likely better able to give a better look at Oregon’s offense.
After practice was over, Sarkisian hustled to the Don James Center for his weekly radio show. Here’s some of what he had to say:
— As might be expected, topic A was Locker’s injury. Most notably, Sarkisian said that there’s a chance that Locker won’t be healed in time to play against UCLA but the hope is that he will be. “He might not be ready for that game — that remains to be seen. That’s the goal, that’s the hope. But he might not be ready for that one either.”
— He also said that when Locker took a hit in the game he said he had a “different feeling” than the previous rib injuries and that the X-rays later made it obvious he was injured more severely. “We knew Sunday morning, that’s when the medical staff made the decision. It was easy for them.”
— He said it was decided then to “make the announcement so everyone knows what’s going on. We’re not trying to hide this thing — there it is, this is the situation. It’s better for our team to know — they understand what’s happening and we’re moving forward.”
— He said that “in a perfect world” Locker would have rested after the Oregon State game and the injury allowed to heal completely but that the nature of the season didn’t allow for that.
— He said the rib injury again limited the running aspect of Locker’s game Saturday and that they tried a couple things early but realized it wasn’t there and “got away from that aspect of the game plan.”
— He said that the team had a good practice today and he thinks the attitude is good moving harder and he predicted that “we will play much harder and execute much better than we have the past couple weeks.”
— He said (yes, I realize it probably gets old reading “he said” before every one of these but not sure a better solution) that the focus this week isn’t so much on Oregon but “about us and getting back to playing Husky football.”
— Asked if he felt the game was a step back, he said “it did feel like a step back. It was an awful night, we didn’t play well.” He added that “we need to do a better job of preparing and we need to play better.” And he called the offensive output “a joke.”
— But he defended the general direction of the program saying that “as I step back and look at the entire body of work” he sees some good things, such as wins this year over Syracuse, USC and Oregon State and playing so many ranked teams this season. “At the same time, we are still not maturing as fast as I would have liked. But one step back means we can still take two steps forward and be a better football team.”
— Asked how he’s approaching the setback, he said “you can’t hide, you can’t run. We are who we are and as the leader of our program I need to step up if I expect our players to step up. … we are going to learn from these times and it’s going to make us a better football program.”
— He added that “I guess it’s motivating in a sense to get back to the drawing board and figure what are the right buttons to push, not only schematically but emotionally to get our guys going again.”
— And he reiterated what he said in his earlier press conference that he thinks the biggest issue right now is that “our guys are pressing, and pressing in a sense that they are worrying and thinking and playing tight, tense football. That’s the first focus, and then we can look at scheme and are we running the right stuff to allow our guys to be successful.”
— And he predicted that the end result will be good. “We’ll get right,” he said. “How long that takes I’m not sure. But there’s no doubt about it. We’ve got a coaching staff that is working hard players that believe in their coaches and what we are doing and in each other. We’ll get it fixed. How long it takes remains to be seen.”
— Asked about Price, he said that “there a lot of emotions involved in this thing. But I think the kids are really going to rally around him. He has a carefree attitue and maybe that’s what we need right now.”
— Asked about Colin Porter and Erik Kohler he said that “those two kids should be redshirting, but that’s the situation we are in right now.”
— Asked about the comments of Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, reported in this story by Bud Withers Sunday, Sarkisian said that “I guess when you win 41-0 you get to say you what you want. But I have a firm belief that the football Gods get you in the end.”
— Asked about the OL situation going forward, he noted that UW signed seven OLs last year and five DLs and will likely sign another 3-4 OLs this year “and maybe potentially a fifth.” He also noted the five true frosh redshirting this year and said “as they get older we’ll get better.”
— Asked about those five, he pointed out that they had such good weeks of practice last week that they were named honorary game captains. “All five have bright futures,” he said.
— Asked about Price, he talked again about his personality, saying “he brings a real kind of a loose, carefree attitude and mentality. He’s always smiling, kind of a happy-go-lucky kid and his teammates really appreciate that about him.” Stylistically, he said of Price that “he’s quicker than he is fast. He does an excellent job with our zone read stuff and shows real patience as he rides with the running back, so that becomes part of our offense again. But I think you will be pleasantly surprised by his ability to throw.”