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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 8, 2010 at 2:38 PM

Sark bites, pre-UCLA bye edition

Here is some of what UW coach Steve Sarkisian said during his press conference with reporters today.
Of note, he talked about Jake Locker and his status for the UCLA game (essentially, still unknown); how Keith Price played; how he will continue to assess the special teams; offered a few personnel injury updates; and more.


Opening comment: Well, I think a lot of the same thoughts following the ballgame immediately Saturday carried over to today. I thought our kids played hard. It was a valiant effort for a good two-and-half, three quarters. I’m really proud of our defense – our defensive front – and their ability to hold up against the run game, our linebackers’ ability to tackle. I thought there was some real key missed opportunities on the offensive side of the ball, especially early in that game – from the first play on. I thin the first play of the game, Jermaine Kearse is open by a good 7-8 yards, and a little pressure, and Keith (Price) gets hit on his release. That was kind of indicative of the first half for our offensive football team. We had chances to maybe change the complexion of the game, and we were unable to do that – a couple of third-down conversions that were dropped, a touchdown pass that gets called back at the end of the first half. All in all, our kids played hard. I think that’s a credit to our coaches to get our players back off the ground after a tough Stanford loss, and to go out and compete against a No. 1 team in the country in their building. I have a hard time just assessing the entire game and putting it all on the fourth quarter when in the fourth quarter, we ran out of gas, and they wore us out. That is what Oregon does, and that’s why they’re good. But when you look at the body of work of the way we prepared mentally, the way we prepared physically, I was proud of that. There is definitely something for us to build on from there. Am I happy about losing? No. By no means are we. We’ll continue to strive to get better. We’ve got a few days of rest here – this isn’t exactly a complete bye week for us, but we’ve got a few days of rest in a sense we’ll treat this week – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – as a normal bye week. So we’ll practice Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Some of our veteran guys will get some real significant time off to get healthy. A lot of our young kids will get some significant playing time to try and earn more playing time in the final three ballgames. We’ve obviously got some things to address in our special teams coverage units, which we’ll focus on here for a few days. And then we’ll take Thursday and Friday off, and we’ll come back Saturday and treat Saturday as a normal Monday of a game week, and we’ll count it all the way up to the ballgame. … I think we’ve got a nice approach to it. Again, for our football team, I think it’s critical to know now we’ve started the fourth quarter. This season, we’ve preached finishing all along – we preached it in training camp – and that’s what these final three ballgames are about. In a perfect world, right now sure we’d love to be 6-3, but the reality of it is, we’re 3-6. That doesn’t mean the season is lost. It means we’ve got to understand these are three vitally important ballgames, but we can’t win all three football games unless we win the first one. That will be our focus, on UCLA, against a football team in a similar situation as we are.”
On what needs to done with special teams — look at schemes or personnel?: “I think it’s both. We’ve got to understand the value of containment on kickoff coverage. We lost contain Saturday numerous times, and it didn’t need to happen. We’ll have to fix it from some schematic things and also some personnel things.”
On starters playing special teams: “Well, we took them off as kind of what happened where we lost a little bit there. Generally, a lot of our guys play on special teams. We made a real decision there coming out of the BYU game most notably, we need our best players to play. Against Oregon, we came off that thought process a little bit because of the fatigue factor of their offense – the Mason Fosters, the Cort Dennisons, the Nate Williams’, the Victor Aiyewas, we took off that kickoff coverage unit because of fatigue, and potentially that was part of the some of the issues we had.”
On Locker this week: “He’ll be off this whole week, Monday through Wednesday, and then we’ll assess it Saturday to see where he’s at. If the doctors give him the clearance to play, we’ll assess how he looks as we get prepared for the ballgame. If they deem him out, or rule him out, then we’ll go forward ahead with Keith Price.”
On if there is any medical update on Locker: “We haven’t had an updated X-ray yet so we are not sure.”
On Price’s performance: “I thought first of all from a mentality perspective making your first career start against the No. 1 team in the country at Autzen Stadium, which as we all know can be a tough environment to play in, I thought he handled himself really well. He looked composed. We didn’t have a bunch of missed calls and different things, alignment things, where he was struggling in the huddle. We took a couple of delay of games late in the game which was a little out of the norm because I thought early in the ball game he had real command. I thought he made some nice throws for us. In a perfect world he will calm down, settle down more in the pocket and get to more secondary reads in his progression. And then I think in a perfect world we catch a few more balls for him to make his day a little easier as well. But all in all if you had told me that would be his first ball game in Autzen Stadium against the No. 1 team in the country I’d take it.”
On leaving the pocket too soon: “I think he might have taken off a little too soon. But that’s part of his game also, I’m not trying to handcuff Keith Price by any means. He’s got a real playmaker mentality to his ball game. I’d like to have him operate a little bit more within the structure and scheme of the system. But I’m not going to take away a real talent of his and that’s his playmaking ability. So there is definitely a fine line there. Hopefully we can draw ourselves a little closer to playing within the system but still utilize his playmaking ability out of the pocket.”
On the whole offense: “Yeah, we went and played. And the reality of it is I thought he performed extremely well. There are a couple of critical third downs that we don’t convert. Two of them are really guys that make plays for us all the time. There are a couple throws I know he’d love to have back. It’s unfortunate we get the touchdown pass called back at the end of the first half. They called us for covering up a receiver. Not that I have to agree or disagree, they called it and took some points off the board that potentially really could have changed the complexion of the ball game. We throw that touchdown we go into the half 18-13, create the turnover to start the third quarter, we score that touchdown, now we are in the lead whether it’s 20-18, 21-18 and we put more pressure on them. So the way he played, I’ll take.”
On being lined up right on that play: “Well, I think it was close.”
On whether to talk about the bowl possibilities: “We’re not going to try to avoid it. It is what it is. But at the end of it all, when we come out of the tunnel next Thursday night, if that’s our concern, we won’t play very good. But the goal is to get our team in the mindframe and the mindset that this is about playing UCLA, and playing really well against UCLA in our final home game of the year, in a great atmosphere Thursday night in Husky Stadium, Senior Night. There’s a lot more things going on that Thursday night than what might happen down the road.”
On the D-line against Oregon: “I thought, again, Alameda Ta’amu and Everrette Thompson had excellent ballgames. I thought Sione and Hau’oli did some nice things as freshmen but had their mistakes; that’s a tough offense to not have mistakes against as a young defensive lineman. It was good to see Chris Robinson getting out there, it was good to see Kalani Aldrich, good to see Semisi (Tokolahi). A lot of guys got opportunities to play and did some good things, and did some things that hopefully they can learn from.”
On what it would mean to get Locker back: “Well, we get our starter back. That’s the natural spark there. You get your captain, your senior leader. There’s a lot of obvious sparks there. I think that we could make a mistake here of putting all of our eggs in Jake Locker’s basket. That’s not what the point of all of this is about. If we get Jake back, that’s great, we’d love to have him, he’s a fantastic football player. But if we don’t, that doesn’t mean we can’t win the game. And if we do, that doesn’t mean we automatically win the game. We’ve got to prepare as a football team for this ball game next Thursday night.”
On what will go into a decision to play Locker: “This isn’t going to be an emotional decision, one that because Jake wants to play and his heart’s in it and all that. He wanted to play Saturday against Oregon. We’ve got to make an educated decision here, what our medical staff tells us, from a health perspective, where he’s at. He and his parents and ourselves collaborating on this and making a decision for him, and his health, and also for our football program of where he’s at. That’s how we’ll do it. It will be a calculated, educated decision.”
On Locker traveling to Oregon: “No-brainer. That one was easy. I think for Keith to have Jake there in between series to talk to, someone who’s been there. I thought Jake had a real calming effect on Keith during the ball game. Jake wanted to be there in support of his teammates, and I thought it was good for our team to see Jake there cheering us on, supporting his teammates.”
On if Locker has to practice to play: “Yeah. I’m not going to put him on the field if he hasn’t practiced. That’s going to be critical as we get into Saturday, Sunday, Monday of where he’s at and how much he can do.”
On Chris Izbicki: “He has a sprained foot, and he just wasn’t able to go last week, to the place where I could put him on the field and I would feel comfortable about putting him on the field. He’s another guy we’re going to have to assess here as we move toward Saturday to see if he can get healthy or not.”
On general value Sarkisian might gain by running the service team last year: “I thought for a couple reasons it was good: One, the obvious tempo factor of trying to create the tempo that Oregon creates. To be able to step in there and talk to the offensive line so that we could go as fast as we could go … but I thought it was a good change-up. At this point in the year, practices can go on and on and on…it’s almost like Groundhog Day when you’re getting out there. To all of a sudden look up and the head coach is at quarterback and running around and I’m trying to talk a little smack to ’em to get practice livened up and going was good. For me personally, it was good to watch our defensive coaches, to see how they practice, the energy and enthusiasm they bring, and from another perspective is for the offensive coaches to take more of an active role in the offense without me down there. So I think it was good for a lot of parties involved. Whether we do that as we head into UCLA week is yet to be determined, but for myself personally, it was probably good conditioning and much-needed…so if they want me to do it, I’ll do it again.”
On the smack talk he heard during the service sessions from the players: “All the time. Cort Dennison, man…that guy’s got a big mouth.”
On talking about a bowl scenario: “I’m not the kind of guy…and hopefully you guys understand this about me by now – I’m not the kind of guy that’s going to not talk about the giant elephant in the room – we’ll address it with the team, but understand that it can’t happen unless we win this first game, so we have to focus on this first game. If, and when we get to the third game at Washington State and we haven’t lost, then we can talk about it even more. But the reality of it is – this is what has to happen if we want to achieve that – so let’s focus on this first one. And if we can get over this first hurdle we can look to the second one…and then the third one.”
On Johri Fogerson and Talia Crichton and other injured players: “I think I will have a better assessment for you by Wednesday, so I can assess them where there are really trying to get back. I’d be surprised if Johri gets back, just what he looked like last week. Talia’s the one who’s probably the most interesting, just in the fact in that knee I saw him running last week and he looked good — but it’s the movement stuff that’s going to have an effect on him. That will be a key. I think we will only Devin Aguilar get more healthy now that he’s out there. I would assume we would get Jordan Polk back after the concussion last week. Then we will have to assess Justin Glenn to see where he’s at with his concussion last week.”
Can Fogerson redshirt?: “From my understanding that’s the case. I haven’t looked into it any further.”
On if he will play Fogerson this year if he’s healthy: “If he’s capable of that. That’s where I’m at right now. Until we get to the end of the year, if there is a petition that could be involved then we will go that route. But my information that I got early was that this was not a potential redshirt.”
On if Cameron Elisara will play again: “I don’t think he will be back. The strength just isn’t coming where it needs to be. Again, as I’ve touched on and you guys know well enough now, our medical staff always errs on the side of caution — not just with one player but all of our players. The issue with Cameron is the strength just isn’t there, and we don’t want to put him out there until he gets that strength back, and it’s not showing the improvement needed to get that done.”
On if that means he won’t be back for UCLA: “I’d be surprised if he’s back the rest of the year, to be quite honest with you.”
On if the situation is similar to last year where after a bye UW won its final two games: “It will be very similar, from the standpoint of getting our veterans some rest. The Mason Fosters, the Cort Dennisons, these guys have played a lot of football — the Nate Williamses. To get them some rest so that they can finish with really fresh mind and body. But also to continue to bring along our young guys so that they can contribute more and more and more the last three games — the likes of the Sean Parkers, the Taz Stevensons, who played a lot of snaps against Oregon and played pretty well. Hopefully we can get them more involved so we can be a fresh football team down the stretch, but also from a perspective of a schedule, and the way we’re doing things and how we are doing things and the number of reps and service teams and whatnot, I think we will try to emulate what we did last year at this time. That doesn’t mean that there is a golden button you push and — poof! — you win three ball games. There’s a lot of work that goes into this. But I think there is a real belief in what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, and I think our kids understand that.”

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