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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 7, 2011 at 5:36 PM

Nussmeier talks offense

The manner in which Saturday’s game with Eastern Washington ended made it easy to focus the critical eye largely on the defense.

But the reality is that the offense wasn’t much better, held to 250 yards — fewer than in all but two games last season (246 against Nebraska at home and 107 against Stanford) and with no pass plays of longer than 10 yards and averaging just four yards per play overall.

That has led to some serious soul-searching by the offense this week.

“Everybody on our offense has to play better and we have to coach better,” offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier said following Wednesday’s practice. “We had a big heart-to-heart meeting about it and it’s not about pointing the finger at one guy because it’s about all of us. It’s everybody that’s involved.”

The inability to create what UW calls “explosive plays” — those that result in significant gains —
was one of the biggest disappointments and has been a huge point of emphasis this week, Nussmier said.

“I can honestly say – and we’ve talked about it – everybody takes ownership,” he said. “It’s all of us. It’s not just the quarterback. It’s not just the coaches. It’s not just the receivers or the running backs or the O-line. It’s all of us. We’re all in it together. I can honestly say, we had 28 called pass attempts, and to have zero explosives from this group of coaches and players is very unexpected. We know we have a lot of work to do, and we have to get better.”

During his talk with the media Wednesday, Nussmeier continually stressed that there was no one issue above any other that led to the inability to hit big plays.

“It was one of those things,” he said. “It was a matter of circumstance at times – maybe we had it and we are off rhythm a little bit. Maybe we are a little late or we don’t get the depth of the route, or we have the opportunity and we can’t quite make the play, or maybe we are not calling the right play at the right time. So there was, when you look back at the game, there were a lot of different situations that created that.”

One of those, the coaches admit, was some conservative play-calling, which they attributed in part to having the lead for most of the game and an injury to QB Keith Price early on.

“I think it’s natural,” Nussmeier said. “The object of the game is to win — everybody knows that. So anytime you have a lead and your quarterback is not 100 percent and it’s his first start and you’ve got a proven tailback and a good offensive front, you are going to do the things you need to do to get out with the win. Obviously, though, we are very disappointed in the result from the standpoint of what we doing in the explosive plays. We’ve got to get better.”

As anyone reading this is aware, UW coach Steve Sarkisian laid down a challenge to coaches and players this week to ratchet things up in the wake of the Eastern game. Nussmeier said he thinks the offense has answered the call.

“I think the guys have worked extremely hard,” he said. “We talked about a couple of things – our first being our pad level and how physical we’re going to play. We have to be a more physical football team on the offensive side of the ball. We’ve had a good week of practice, very spirited – and we’re looking forward to this one.”

Nussmeier also addressed a number of other topics:

Assessing the offensive line and its physicality: “They are getting there. There’s a lot of young players, and they are working together – I thought we had a really good camp. Our communications been pretty darn good, but there’s always room for growth, as it is with every position on our offense. We have to play better everywhere.”

Assessing Keith Price’s game: “I think it was a pretty good first outing. It would have been interesting to see how the flow of the game would have gone if he hadn’t gotten banged up a little bit. But he’s feeling good. From a read and progression standpoint, he did a nice job. He got off rhythm and was late on a couple throws, but that’s to be expected for a guy in his first start, or second start.”

On if it would compromise the playbook this week if Price can’t run: “He’s looked good running the ball so far. He looks good.”

On improving from game one to game two: “It’s about the process. I don’t think you can get caught up in a one-day result. No team is judged by one day or one game. And you have to be process-oriented in my opinion and in the mindset that every day we come to the practice field we continue to grow as a unit and get better and then that will show. Does it show in game two, does it show in game three? I don’t know. I can’t say that. What I can say is that I believe that we are continuing to improve every time we come out here.”

On Austin Seferian-Jenkins and working him in more: “Every time you have a player the caliber of Austin – and yes he’s young and he’s going to grow and learn – you want to get him touches because he’s such a great young talent. We have to continue to bring him along, and he has to continue to improve. He’s done that.”

On Kasen Williams: “Any time you get the production of a touchdown reception your first game, that’s a great first start. He’s got a lot of things he can get better at, but once again – very, very talented young man. And every day is a learning experience — just getting the timing of his routes, understanding the adjustments. And for him, he’s got so much from that receiver standpoint – we have to be very conscious of how much we give him. But once again – very, very excited about what he brings to the table.”

More on Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins: “Young players, obviously very talented. But any time you take a step up into the level of play whether it’s junior high to high school or high school to college or college to the NFL, whatever it may be, it’s a different speed and things happen at a different pace and they happen in different ways. It’s a learning process and Bishop (Sankey) is going through the same thing as is Colin Tanigawa starting his first college football game, and Michael Hartvigson not playing a lot — you can go around the room of the guys — Keith (Price) really only having one start and (Jonathan) Amosa it’s his first start, you’ve got a lot of guys there that were in their first game and it has to be the same way that it is on Saturday.”

On if UW can give the ball to Chris Polk 25 more times this week: “They create some different matchups for us, so you have to be very matchup-conscious. And obviously Chris is a big part of what we do, and obviously I think they know that – so it’ll be interesting to see how things play out.”

On Bishop Sankey getting more touches: “Yes, obviously. Once again, another young, talented player that will grow as we go through the season. He’s getting better each and every day we come out here.”

On not knowing how young players may perform until gameday rolls around: “Believe it, you prepare yourself that it shouldn’t matter how many people are in the stands and what day of the week it is — we should make the same plays on Saturday that we make today. It shouldn’t be that I have to get up to play in this game or get any more excited than I do the rest of the week. So it’s about us focusing on doing things right and continuing to get better.”

On the Hawai defensive line: “They are very physical on the front four, and they present some challenges because they give you multiple looks. But they play extremely hard and they’ve got great speed in the back end – so it’s going to be a really good challenge for us.”

On Hawai’s defense: “Very, very physical up front. They play extremely hard and the strength of the back end is in their speed. They are very, very quick at the corners — they run well and they fly around. They don’t hesitate, they come after you and they go.”

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