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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 22, 2010 at 6:48 PM

Monday practice and coach’s show notes

Okay, full disclosure time — I didn’t get up to UW today. I live in the south end and after assessing the forecast, thought better of it. Glad I did as I know see reports that it’s taking more than two hours to get from Seattle to Federal Way — the route I would have taken at the moment I type this.
So, the couple of practice notes comes from others who were there (other interviews today were conducted via phone).
But it doesn’t sound as if there was much news. Reports are Jake Locker took all the normal snaps with the No. 1 offense, as was expected. And Erik Kohler filled in for Ryan Tolar at guard. Tolar is battling a sprained knee. So that would have both Kohler and Colin Porter at guard, with Senio Kelmete and Cody Habben at the tackles and Drew Schaefer at center if Tolar can’t make it back.
As for Steve Sarkisian’s radio show, here are a few highlights:
— The show started with talk of the UCLA game and the running attack that keyed the win. Sarkisian said that at halftime he didn’t feel Jake Locker was 100 percent so he decided “let’s lean on No. 1 (Chris Polk) for a little bit, get momentum on our side, play the field position game.”


— Sarkisian said he appreciated that Polk has been patient in not having as many big-carry games this year as he night have liked. “It’s a real credit to Chris Polk that he has hung in there. I’m sure there have been some games where he wanted the ball more, and at the end of it all I wish we had given it to him more. But the flow of the game is the flow of the game. But he has hung in there. … I thought both of them the other night (Polk and Jesse Callier) played a real big part in that ball game and Chris had some real grind-it-out yards for us and Jesse some real slash yards for us and set the stage for the fourth quarter.”
— Sarkisian talked about the tight end spot and how they have had to get creative there this year playing by committee. He noted that Callier and D’Andre Goodwin actually had some plays against UCLA where they took on what were essentially tight end roles, helping throw seal blocks at the edge. He said that “in a perfect world we get a guy who is 6-6, 255-260 pounds” who can handle all the TE responsibilities. And while he can’t say the name, that was an obvious nod to the fact that Austin Seferian-Jenkins is coming in next season.
— Sarkisian said a real underrated player in the game was fullback Austin Sylvester, especially for his blocking in the running game. “I thought Austin had a very good football game, maybe his best of the year for us and in turn it’s allowed us to expand his role some. We did some different things with him on the line of scrimmage the other night that we can do more of.”
— He said the game plan was to try to take some shots in the passing game early since he figured Locker would be at his healthiest on the first few possessions. The hope, he said, was to get a quick score or two and put pressure on UCLA to throw the ball to get back in the game. “That didn’t go as planned,” he said. “But we were prepared for the bad weather and that we needed a really sound running game and when the game wasn’t feeling right at halftime we just went to it and it was a nice adjustment not only by our staff but by our players.”
— Talking about what remains for UW this season, he recalled that he said in the season-opening press conference “about the importance of these final two ball games and going on the road in a hostile environment and our ability to play in those hostile environments and finish in the fourth quarter of the ball game and that was going to really define our season. And here we are with these two ball games left, and it’s going to be our ability to finish in the fourth quarter of these two games and, setting the stage for that was finishing in the fourth quarter Thursday night.”
— He said the key to the defensive effort was that they didn’t panic after the early UCLA score. “I thought (defensive coordinator) Nick (Holt) and the coaches did a nice job sticking with the plan, fitting the run a little bit better and then settling in and playing a nice ball game.”
— He said he had a perfect view of Nate Fellner’s interception and “I was really surprised they didn’t give him the interception. One of the officials did and one didn’t, but it was clear that it was a catch and he was in.” The call was overturned on review and Fellner given the pick.
— He said another key to the defensive effort was “really winning on first down, our first down win efficiency on defense was great and forced them into second and third and longs and force them to throw the ball. That was really an emphasis to win on first down.”
— He said he tried the field goal on the last play of the half because he initially thought they were a little closer, 54 instead of 56. But he said Erik Folk indicated he thought he could make it so he left him out there. He noted there were three blocks in the back on the return so it really wasn’t a long return and that “we covered it well. We executed it fine.” He said Folk’s earlier miss had not been hit well so he thought if Folk struck the ball cleanly it might have a chance.
— There was talk of the Pac-10 bowl situation and that only three conference teams could make it and he said that is making teams in the conference a”ssess their non-conference scheduling. … You play nine conference games, you go 4-5 in this conference which isn’t a bad record, and you have to go 2-1 in non-conference games to get bowl eligible. We went 1-2 in non-conference so we are fighting for our lives to get bowl eligible. … it’s going to force the teams in our conference to really assess who they are playing out of conference. We obviously have made a little shift (in non-conference scheduling) but it’s a necessity because if you don’t, you put yourself in a dangerous position.”
— There was talk of what’s on the line Saturday for Cal and that it is the final game at Memorial Stadium before it gets renovated. “The key for us early on is to weather down that emotion, let the emotion settle down and keep playing.”
— Asked if UW would have the same run-first strategy against the Bears or would it be more balanced, he said that: “I love balance because I think that’s what keeps a defense guessing. That will be a big focus for us. But when we pass it, how we pass it is what’s going to be key in this game. On the flipside of that we have to stop their run. They are playing with a backup quarterback, they really rely on the running game with Shane Vereen, so eliminating the run game be a big part of the ball game.”
— Finally, he said the win over UCLA helped to strengthen the faith off the players in the program. “It just reaffirms a lot of the things we have been talking about with this group, and all of the sudden they look up and here is the position we are in that we have been talking about months ago that it was going to come down to these last two ball games and how we finish. I think they are ready to go.”

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