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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 8, 2011 at 3:38 PM

Thursday practice notes, plus Sarkisian video

The Huskies are off the field following their Thursday practice, this one closed to all, including media.

But UW coach Steve Sarkisian stopped by the media room afterward to let us know that all apparently went well in the last major workout of the week before the game against Hawaii Saturday.

“It was good,” he said. “Really intense. I enjoyed it. There was a little bit of on-edge going on out there, which I thought was good. I think the guys were probably tired of being harped on by coaches, and they’re probably a little upset about hearing about it all week long: what happened, what happened, what happened. By the end, they just wanted to go play.”

Sarkisian said he closed the practice to all because “I wanted this to be a hard one…This Thursday practice, I wanted it to be a hard one. I wanted it to be hard-nosed. Sometimes our Thursday practices have a tendency to be a little bit light – not light in the sense of we’re not going hard, but just light-hearted. And I wanted to make sure it wasn’t that. I didn’t need people out there with our guys. I wanted us really locked in and sharp and hard, and it was. It was exactly what I was hoping to have happen.”

The question now is whether that will translate on the field on Saturday, which was the disconnect a week ago — remember, coaches raved last week about the team’s fall camp and preparation only to then come out with a performance that resulted in a near-loss to Eastern Washington.

Sarkisian said so far, however, the players have responded the way he hoped after his tongue-lashing on Monday.

“It’s been a little bit of on edge, I guess would be the best way to describe it,” he said. “I think myself included. I’ve been a little on edge because I just don’t, I know we are better than the way we played last week and it starts with me and it’s got to go through everybody in the program and we need to get right and we need to get right as fast as we can. We only have 12 more opportunities to do this thing and I just don’t want to accept mediocrity around here. I think the on-edge mentality has been throughout, all week long.”

In terms of personnel, Sarkisian said the only player who played a week ago who might miss the game is freshman safety James Sample, who continues to be bothered by a shoulder injury that dates to fall camp. Sarkisian said Sample re-injured the shoulder late in the Eastern game.

Everyone else, he said, is good to go.

You can watch a few minutes of Sarkisian’s media session below, with more notes after the jump:

[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”1149857271001″][/do]


— Among the players pronounced good to go is cornerback Quinton Richardson, and Sarkisian said he will factor into what will be one of the bigger personnel adjustments of the game: “The biggest thing is we will be more with some three corners on the field with Quinton being in the slot some and (Greg) Ducre being in the slot and some different things, which you have to be. It’s no secret, they are in four-receiver sets on every snap, so you’ve got to get as many DBs and corner types as you can on the field. So having Quinton back is big for us because it allows us to do a few more things and mix coverages a little bit more.”

— Sarkisian said Richardson’s return will also help from an intangible standpoint: “I think he brings a real attitude to the game and we saw that last year in some ball games. He plays with a great deal of emotion and passion which I think we lacked a little bit last week, so it will be good to have him back out there.”

— In another defensive change, Sarkisian said to expect to see more of Andrew Hudson at strong-side end (the spot where Talia Crichton started last week): “I think that he’s earned it,” Sarkisian said of Hudston. “He’s worked hard, he’s done some nice things when he was on the field last week and brings a little bit more of a pass-rush and suddenness and yet strength to still play the run and so hopefully we can get him some opportunities.”

— He said Jermaine Kearse is back to basically full health, and explained the quick recovery this way: “I think the want-to. There’s a want to get back out there. And he’s had a great week of work. I mean, a really good week of work. So I’m excited to watch him play Saturday.”

— Asked about the play of Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins last week, he said: “I thought they functioned. They weren’t perfect, but they functioned. First college game, new atmosphere, coming out of the tunnel and all that, I thought they functioned fine. They’ll get better, though. They’re better than that, I know that. That’s for sure.”

— Asked about young guys taking a big jump after a game or two, he said: “They’re all different. Every guy’s growth is different. Some guys do, and some guys, it might take two, three, four, five weeks. Some guys start right off the bat. You saw that two years ago with James Johnson, who almost declined a little bit as the year went on. I think they’re all different. I’d like to think there’s steady improvement with the young guys, and that’s what should happen.”

— As for the team maybe making a big step from week one to week two, he said: “We try to do the mock game, we try to simulate as much as we can with these guys. But even that, you can’t hit it all and make it perfect. There’s so much anxiety for guys, especially leading into the game, for the guys because of the unknown: what’s this gonna be like? What’s that gonna be like? All that. So when it finally comes and you go through it all, I think a lot of it isn’t as bad as you thought it was going to be, but the game just passed by and I didn’t play as good as I could’ve. The unknowns, that helps. They know what to expect now, and that should be helpful.”

— As for the impact of youth on making that improvement from week one to week two that is so often talked about, he said: “That can be two-fold. One, it can be, you get on the field and, ‘oh, my gosh, this is it, here it is, let me survive.’ And you kick into survival mode and lose some of the details and fundamentals and techniques. I think the other thing that can happen is there’s a little bit of a different fatigue that kicks in in game mode. As much as we practice, as hard as we practice, extended practice, when the game kicks in, there’s a little different fatigue. And that’s when we can have some breakdowns as well. It’s not just the physical breakdown; mentally we can break down when we get fatigued. We have to learn to play that way and the best way to do that is by actually playing. So I think those two things help as we move forward.”

— Ducre and Justin Glenn each suffered from camps last weekend and Sarkisian said that should be less of an issue going forward: “It’s learning our people. That’s the most those two guys have played for us – especially Glenn – in a long time, and obviously Ducre playing that extended period of time…you learn your people. We know that we have other guys on the team that have a potential to cramp, and we can do things to prevent that beforehand. So we’ll add those two guys to the list, now that we know.”

— Asked about Chris Polk’s role on the team this year, he said: “He’s kind of the bell cow. He’s a guy that we try not to lean on too much, but we’re definitely going to lean on. He understands that, and embraces his role. I think his teammates really respect him for how hard he runs. That’s one of the best traits he can have – the respect of your teammates. And he definitely has that. I think his role as a player is pretty well defined on the field – his role off the field is still growing, still maturing. This is new for him. This is a new arena for him. He’s accepting it, but still feeling his way through it a bit.”

— Asked if there was any difference in approach this week compared to after last year’s season-opening loss to BYU, he said: “The differences are where are my areas of concern were about our ball club. Last year after BYU, I was worried about catching a kickoff after we had fumbled around three of them and not running into the punter and all those things that kind of happened on special teams last year. This year that wasn’t the case. We still focused on special teams, but there were some things offensively and defensively we definitely had to focus on. So different in the sense of actual schemes, but not so much the approach of mentally of – you’re opening the season, you have high hopes, you come in and you don’t perform to the best of your abilities. We’ve got to fix that. That’s the mentality – so now it’s like, what do we need to fix? And I think we’ve addressed it.”

— Finally, every home game these days brings the question of whether fans might see anything new in terms of uniforms — the Huskies mixed them up quite a bit last season, including unveiling all-black uniforms for the UCLA game. Sarkisian, though, indicated there won’t be anything new this week — or maybe he just wouldn’t admit it if there were — saying “no” when asked if there might be a new look this week.



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