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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 15, 2010 at 2:22 PM

Sark bites, pre-UCLA edition

As he does every Monday during the football season, UW coach Steve Sarkisian met with the media today.
He talked about the health of Jake Locker, defending UCLA’s offense, improving UW’s special teams, and the “black theme” for the night.
Here’s some of what he had to say:
Opening statement: “It’s nice to have this press conference a little closer to game day. I’m usually so attached to the last ball game, it’s a lot more focused on what is lying ahead of us, which is obviously a very big ball game for both clubs, national audience, ESPN. It’s a great setting not only for the university of Washington but for the pac-10. it’s a great opportunity for our program, our players. this game obviously has a lot of impact on both teams’ remaining season. We are also aware of some of the issues that may have arisen with parking and different things, so part of that is one, I really want to encourage people to sign up for the shuttles, go to “” and sign up for the shuttles because your support is needed, it does have a factor in this ball game. Believe me it does. but I can tell you our kids are excited. We are very aware of the fact how important these last three games are to our season but the fact of the matter is you can’t win all three football games until you win the first one and that’s the task at hand, UCLA, a team that is in a very similar situation, is fighting the fight and should make for a great Thursday night. The weather is such it can kind of make for a fun evening and we’ll embrace it to the best of our abilities and put our best foot forward.”

On similiarities of the seasons of UW and UCLA: “In an odd way, they are similar to us in a sense. they are a football team, who when they play well in all three phases looks really, really good as we have this year at times. there are other times when things haven’t gone well they have fallen apart on them as they have from us. I think it speaks one, to the margin of error is so small with some of the opponents we’re playing, especially in conference that if you don’t bring your game and you’re not clean in all three phases and another team in our conference can play to their capabilities it can be a rough one. So I think we’re just in similar boats that way.”
Updating Locker’s situation: “He was cleared to practice on Saturday and then we’ll get a ruling from our medical staff tomorrow if he is cleared to play. They are assessing him daily, not only actively throughout practice how he is moving but how he responds the next day. In a perfect world I would love to know earlier from a game planning perspective but we’ll get a definitive answer tomorrow.”
On the doctors’ assessment of Locker: “I think they’ve been encouraged honestly. He’s responded well, I think they’ve been encouraged that way. I don’t want to make that statement of what they might make up, but I think they’ve been encouraged by the way he has felt after days of work, pretty extensive work.”
On why the clearance would come Tuesday and not earlier: “I don’t know. Probably just because it is closer to game day. I’m not really sure.”
On how Locker has practiced: “I think he’s performed pretty well. I’ve thought his movement’s been good. We’ve done things out of the pocket with him. I have to put enough out there for them to assess him as well as for us to assess him. So I can’t just leave him in the pocket and have him be a robot. I have to make him do things, a variety of throws and runs to see where he’s at. But I thought he’s peformed well.”
On whether he would be limited in any way: “No,I think the point of this is, if they deem him able to play and they clear him to play, the ruling is he can play the game. And if they don’t think he can handle the physical nature of a Pac-10 football game they are not going to clear him to play. That is the reality of the situation.”
On if he’d be confident in Keith Price if he had to start: “We’ve touched on it so many times about Keith’s personality and what he brings – he started on ABC last week at Oregon, No. 1 team in the country – so he’ll be fine. To Keith’s credit, he’s prepared extremely well. He’s preparing as if he’s playing. He and Jake have been splitting reps. I think as a young player sometimes that’s the challenge – you start one week and then it looks like the starter is coming back, so now you can sit back and relax and not get yourself not mentally prepared to play again. But to Keith’s credit, and Doug Nussmeier’s credit in getting him prepared to play, he’s shown in these last two days of practice that he’s ready to go.”
On what he expects to see out of UCLA QB Richard Brehaut that maybe he wouldn’t with Kevin Prince: “They are really similar, in all honesty. They are both athletic guys – athletic in the sense that maybe not so much that they are pure runners, but their ability to improvise, their ability to make plays out of the pocket to create – is something I would envision out of both of them. I don’t view them so differently, in a sense – stature-wise they both look similar and their style of play is similar. It fits what they do.”
On the challenge of defending UCLA’s Pistol offense: “I think the one real challenging thing more than anything is their ability to use a variety of formations most notably some unbalanced formations that can get your gap integrity in trouble. That if you don’t align properly and you don’t fit some of the runs properly they can create big gaps and create big seams the little back frankly can make things happen for them. I think one of the biggest challenges for our defense right from the time when they break the huddle is to get aligned to their formations so that we don’t leave gaps uncovered in the run game. … they have the ability to run all the runs that they want to run from behind the quarterback. That’s the beauty of the Pistol. Most shot gun run teams have the back off set to one side or the other and it can limit you in a sense of which direction you’re running the ball and what types of runs can come. By putting him directly behind the quarterback it gives you the same variety you would have as if you were under center but also gives you the ability to run your shot gun runs and in both directions. So it can tax you where you don’t get the normal tips and keys from a shot gun running team. You get it right behind center and it can tax you.”
On UCLA also keeping in some of the West Coast offense: “To a degree. I think they’re somewhat like us. When you go to a backup quarterback in a sense it can get shrunk down a little bit. But they have continued to do some of the things that they’re doing. They’re still getting the quarterback on the edge in the perimeter with the play-action game, and also sprinting him out. And then doing some things in empty formations with the quick game to get the ball out of his hands.”
On what was UW’s exposure to the Pistol: “We studied it pretty extensively in the offseason and we’re continuing to study it to see how it can fit within our system. It’s part of the reason of what we talked about. Traditionally, we’ve been an under the center offense where a quarterback is under center and the tailback is seven and a half yards behind that quarterback and we run our plays and we run our runs. Not to be stubborn, we’ve tried to adapt some to the personnel that we have, most notably our quarterbacks to get more in the gun to utilize the run game. And I just don’t want to be so one dimensional where we’ve lost this power run game with the running back behind the quarterback. That’s why we’ve adopted bits and pieces of it. I don’t think we’ll ever go extensively to the Pistol but there are some things to this offense that have some very redeeming qualities especially for us and what we do.”
On the blackout theme: “I think we’re just trying to do something special for our student body, to keep them involved and excited in coming to watch us play. We appreciate their support, no doubt, and they have a big factor in our game. And to do something unique for
our fans, to get them excited. And also, on our front, I think our kids are excited about it. It adds a unique feel to the game, a night game, Thursday night, and that’s something that hasn’t been done here in 80 years now, maybe even 90 years. Just trying to do something fresh and fun to keep everybody excited about what we’re doing.”
On what else is the school is doing: “We’ve handed out some T-shirts to our student body. Obviously, there’s some different paint and whatnot in the end zones to kind of keep the theme of the night alive.
On incorporating black into the uniforms: “In general, when you look at what’s kind of gone on with our university, black has been incorporated much more into our school colors, in a sense, prior to when I even got here. It’s got a nice feel to it with the colors that we have, and it comes across looking sharp.”
On young guys who impressed last week: “I think a guy like Taz Stevenson has really risen. He played extremely well versus Oregon, over 20 reps on defense, and in turn he stepped his game up even more – not only on defense but on special teams. Kevin Smith is another guy who’s really risen up the depth chart. He’s a guy that has been very impressive. Those two guys have jumped out at me right off the bat. Those two have earned their playing time.”
On the special teams: “Well, we’ve obviously been working on
covering kicks after the last time out. But all joking aside, it’s something that I think we’ve
addressed and addressed soundly and not tried to go overboard in one direction. Not only have we addressed it soundly in our schemes, and then in our techniques. That’s been a big issue. And then, two, in our return game. We should all agree and can agree that we can be better with the personnel we have in our return game. In that aspect of it, we put a lot of emphasis on that as well. Field position is a big factor for our first three quarters of the football season. I feel like we’ve struggled to get field position offensively; we’ve started backed up, offensively. And in turn, we put our defense in some tough situations by giving up some returns. If we can swing that a little bit more in our favor, we could have some more favorable outcomes for us in the
final three ball games.”
On the senior class and handling the emotion of senior night: “I want to make sure it’s an advantage. I think sometimes those emotional senior nights can be to a disadvantage. You get caught up so emotionally you start thinking about the past and everything that has gone on and you lose sight of the task at hand and what is right in front of us so it’s going to be a real challenge for us as seniors and coaches to focus on the task at hand to leave some of the emotional feeling for after the game in the locker room. I think all of them would agree that the biggest thing here is they want to go out and play well in their last ball game in Husky Stadium and then maybe reminisce afterward in the locker room with their teammates.”
On Sean Parker: “He got a stinger. I think he’ll be okay. Those stingers, as we have come to find out, vary with different players, so we’ll have to check the degree of his strength off where he is at. We’ll keep him out of contact today to try to get the strength back but we’ll test him daily up until game time.”
On who would replace him, Stevenson? “Yes.”



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