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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 29, 2010 at 2:33 PM

Sark bites — Pre-Apple Cup edition

UW coach Steve Sarkisian’s annual pre-Apple Cup press conference touched on a number of topics. Specifically: the importance of getting to a bowl game (it would be nice, he said); more thoughts on the win over Cal; the improvement of the defense; and what he thinks of Washington State.
Here’s some of what he said:
Opening Comments: “It’s good to have Apple Cup week upon us. It’s an exciting time for both programs involved and for the state and for people to rally around the game. It sets the stage for a great setting in Pullman at Martin Stadium…two teams that have steadily improved as the year has gone on…to set up for a tremendous clash come Saturday afternoon. I think back to last year at this time and not really having been involved this rivalry, but been involved in previous rivalries, and I tried to jump into this rivalry with two feet, and I think I got a good taste of this rivalry last year. Obviously it was a tremendous win for us and a great way to send our seniors off in the rivalry, and our hope is that we can do that for our seniors this year.”
On areas in which WSU is improving: “In one aspect of it, they are executing better. You go back and look at their earlier games and then as they carry on throughout the year, their execution in all three phases has improved. I think another thing, which is a real tribute to coach Wulff and his staff, is they battle. They competed better as the year has gone on, and they continued to fight. They did some good things against some very good teams to find a way to be in ball games late in games, and ultimately it showed up at Oregon State a few weeks back, where they were able to go out and dominate Oregon State, in a sense, on both sides of the ball, and especially at the line of scrimmage. To me that tells me that they are improving.”

On WSU QB Jeff Tuel : “He’s a real playmaker. Tuel is a guy that plays the game fearless. He’s willing to throw the ball in there and he’s willing to run, really put his body out there. He plays the game fearless, he plays with a real passion. He’s got two wideouts out there on the perimeter that make plays for him in (receivers Marquess) Wilson and (Jared) Karstetter. They present a lot of issues, and he’s the reason why because of his ability to throw and to run.”
On who Tuel reminds him of: “I think he’s got a very unique style to him. He’s athletic enough to run. I wouldn’t classify him as a runner, but he’s athletic enough to run, he’s fearless enough to run. But he’s much more of a passer that way.”
On when he decided to go for it on the last play of the game against Cal: “When we got on the one-yard line, to be honest with you. That decision was based on the situation of where we had gotten to. As the drive went on, that was our most productive drive of the day where we executed as a group. We did different things within the drive; we threw the ball, we ran the ball, the quarterback runs, the fly to Jesse (Callier)…there was a lot of variety in the drive. I felt like we executed extremely well to get to that point, so I felt like the momentum by that point when we got to the one was on our side. We were playing our best football at that time, so I wanted to take advantage of it.”
On if he was at the two-yard line, would he have gone for it?: “I don’t know.”
On if it was truly a spur of the moment decision?: “Spur of the moment, yes. But calculated also. We’ve been preaching, especially this year from the very beginning, before training camp – about our ability to finish, our ability to finish on the road in a hostile environment with all the elements that come into the game…preaching that and getting that accomplished was really going to come down to these final two games. Our ability to finish in these final two games was going to define who we are as a football team this year, so it was a perfect opportunity for us to seize the moment, in a sense, and define who we are. A real tribute to our 11 guys who were on the field to get that play done and to execute it, and it’s a real tribute to the rest of our team and the way we prepare, the way we practice for those moments to be able to perform like that.”
On Senio Kelemete’s status: “He’s been in a boot. He will be in a boot again today. He’s made tremendous progress. I’m not going to declare him playing Saturday yet. But the progress he is making is encouraging and we will get a little bit better idea tomorrow as the treatment continues.”
On Kelemete’s backup: “Right now with (Ryan) Tolar being able to come back and play this week it will be Erik Kohler at left tackle.”
On Kiel Rasp’s status: “He should be all right. Just back spasms. He had a tremendous day up until that point. I think he had an 82-yarder. It was neat to see Cody Bruns step in. I was thinking about Cody Bruns in the game. He returned punts. He held for field goals. He punted. And he played wide receiver — all in the same game. Sometimes those guys can go unnoticed, because we are always looking for the ‘flash’ and the big plays, the Jermaine Kearses, the Chris Polks, the D’Andre Goodwins, but a lot guys have big roles on this team that can sometimes go unnoticed.”
On what it would means for Jake Locker to have a chance to go to a bowl game: “It’s special, it’s special for him obviously with all of the kind of ups and downs we have been through this year that his injury, some of the devastating losses that we have taken, to show the resiliency that this team has shown and that he has shown to battle through injury just to get to this point I am happy for him. This is why you play college football for games like this. So for Jake and some of these other seniors to have this opportunity, something that they haven’t had in their career, I’m excited for them.”
On Sean Parker’s availability: “We’re hopeful but we are not going to rush this thing. If he is healthy enough to play we will play him if not we are not going to push him out there.”
On talking to the team about no trash talk: “To be honest with you I haven’t mentioned it to them. We’re at a point now where the message has been very clear from day one and we have not wavered on opponent versus another opponent and I think our guys are very respectful of Washington State and who they are and the way they play and their style of play and they understand it will be a very physical game and it’s going to take a great effort out of us to get a win. … I might not touch on it but it won’t be something we’ll dwell on.”
On having sympathy as a fellow coach for the struggles of Paul Wulff: “I have a great deal of sympathy, that’s a good word to use, I have a great deal of respect for coaches in general because it is not easy. We all fight the fight. It’s definitely not easy when losses begin to mount. It’s a little easier when you are winning and winning is contagious. Unfortunately so is losing and losing can become contagious and to continue to get up early in the morning and game plan and try to motivate young men who are distracted by whether it’s school or off the field things and to get them to come and to work and to battle, I think that’s why I have so much respect for Paul and his staff because when you look at the film, his kids play hard. It’s definitely not easy.”
On who graded out well defensively: “It’s the typical crew there when you talk about our defense, the first guy you point at is Mason Foster who just had a tremendous game. I thought Nate Fellner, obviously the numbers beat it out, but he was around the ball, very active again. Alameda (Ta’amu) and Everrette (Thompson) up front had nice games, Victor (Aiyewa) really flashed, had some nice plays. And at corner, Quinton Richardson is playing at an extremely high level right now. He obviously had the interception. He had another play on the deep ball where he knocked the ball away, had a big hit on a slant route and he’s playing good football.”
More on the improvement of the defense: “I think we’re playing fast. For how we have gotten to this point I would like to think it’s a tribute to our defensive coaches, but our kids are playing fast, they are playing confident, I don’t feel like there is a lot of confusion. We are lining up and we are playing fast, physical football and believing in what we are doing. Exactly to pinpoint why that is I’m not sure. I’d like to think we’ve got pretty good coaches that are coaching and the kids are buying into them.”
On how much does making a bowl affect the future: “I think there are a lot of benefits to it. One is the extra practice, you get up to 15 practices in bowl preparation, and that’s not only your current team now but for your young kids to continue to coach them to get better because of the limited opportunities once the season is over we get 15 spring ball practices and then it’s training camp. I think from a culture perspective of building a belief system that this is what we do and how we do it and getting comfort with being in that arena and that environment is big. It’s big from a recruiting perspective to get that exposure to play a game on national television during the bowl season when everybody is at home watching. And it’s big from the perspective of an organization and not just our players and not just our coaches but our administration and everybody that is surrounding our program that puts in a lot of time and effort to keep them motivated that there are things out there that we can do to reward everybody that is involved in this program and not just the coaches and players.”
On comparing the rivalries to others he’s participated in: “Well, this one is similar to when I was in college to me, when I was playing for BYU playing Utah. I mean, that state, it’s divided. It’s households are divided. It’s brothers. It’s marriages, siblings — all of that gets divided. It’s very similar to this rivalry. Similar to SC-UCLA as well, but there are so many more people involved in that one that sometimes it can get a little watered down. Here, obviously the importance of it is the majority of people living here is either a Husky or a Cougar. And I think that’s what makes it so special.”
On if it might be even better going into this game to win the Cal game the way UW did: “I would have taken a blowout, trust me. A little less stressful on everybody involved. I think setting up for this game, it sets up for quite a bit of excitement. Capping off the last game, and obviously Washington State coming off its last win, there’s a lot of excitement in the air.”
On if it matters that WSU has had three weeks off: “I think in all rivalry games you kind of go in knowing to expect the unexpected, in a sense. And that’s what makes rivalry games so unique and so fun. People pull out all the stops in these games. To have three weeks to prepare, obviously, they could change a lot of things. But then you look at the other side of it: Why change when you just played your best game versus Oregon State. We’ll game plan and we’ll prepare and we’ll play hard.”
On if a bowl game would signal progress in the program: “I think it’s there. Obviously to get to six wins is progress to go from five to six wins is progress, but to have the opportunity to go play in a bowl game symbolizes progress, no doubt. Whether completely internally, it has that perception externally.”
On if practicing in the snow here last week might help: “Well, hopefully. that was the intent of it, why we went outside that day last week. obviously it wasn’t going to snow at cal, although it hailed, and that was the intent of getting out there and getting our guys somewhat acclimated to it and some of our young guys exposed. We didn’t know exactly what the weather would be like this week so we tried to take advantage of that last week. We’ll be outside all this week. It doesn’t look like we’ll be getting any snow but we’ll be outside all week. ”
On Locker’s health: “He’s sore, which is natural. But I thought Jake showed a lot of guts, a lot of heart in that last drive. He’s not healthy by any means, but when our back was against the wall and needed to make plays we leaned on No. 10 and he showed some real guts and real heart that last drive. ”
On if Locker ran in the fourth quarter more by design: “They were called. The majority of them were called, but he did scramble to create some plays. We felt like that gave us our best chance to win at that point.”



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