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September 12, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Notes from Sarkisian’s radio show

Here are a few notes and quotes from UW coach Steve Sarkisian’s radio show today:

— Sarkisian said he thought the offensive line was much better against Hawaii than it had played against Eastern: “I thought they were better than they were last week but I think there’s still room for improvement, especially in the running game, so that will be a point of emphasis for us this week as we put the pads on tomorrow.”

— He noted the biggest defensive issue against Hawaii was the ability of Bryant Moniz to buy time with his feet and that “it’s a point of emphasis for us this week because we are going to see another fast guy in Taylor Martinez.

Jermaine Kearse has three catches so far this season, in part due to being hurt in the first game, but Sarkisian said the hope is to get him more involved. “We might see 15 get a few more touches this week,” he said.

— Asked about Kasen Williams, Sarkisian said “it will happen” that he will break out. “Realistically he probably should have played more last week but it just didn’t happen. But it will happen. He had a big third-down catch for us early in the game. When the light clicks on and he is playing as fast as possible, look out, the sky’s the limit.”
— There was a good breakdown of Keith Price’s lone interception. Sarkisian explained that as the huddle broke and he saw where Hawaii safety Richard Torres was lined up that he yelled to Kevin Smith to slip inside. Price, however, reading where the safety was, thought Smith was going to run straight and not cut. Sarkisian said that “it’s really my fault because I yelled at Kevin to slip inside,” he said.

— Asked to describe the pass defense Saturday he said: “A lot better. They are good. … I thought we played them pretty well. You think about the points we gave up, we gave up an interceptoin there, the punt, a short field there — that’s 14 points they got in the ball game against a pretty prolific offense. I was pleased with the progress we made but that doesn’t mean it’s good enough. It’s getting better but not good enough yet.”

— He said one of the challenges for a young player such as Austin Seferian-Jenkins is to play hard all the time (something he’s now said a couple of times) and that that will be part of the maturation process for him as he continues to grow and get better. He said Seferian-Jenkins’ has a “really scary” skill set and also noted the presence of Michael Hartvigson making the position better. “I’m just glad this is year for one for both of these guys, we’ve got a few years with both of them,” he said.

— He talked about the two point-after blocks by Everrette Thompson and said they have found that he has a knack for getting inside on such plays and that the coaches search for favorable matchups to take advantage of that trait. “Everrette’s generally the guy who gets put over the weak link. Really, he was in the backfield, it was pretty easy for him,” he said.

— In talking about UW being a big underdog, he said “I love that role. We definitely go in there with a little chip on our shoulder, which is how you have go to into that environment.”

— Asked about the perception in Nebraska that the Cornhuskers didn’t show up for the Holiday Bowl, he said “I don’t know. I know the first time we played them that we weren’t there, either. Maybe it goes both ways and we’ll both show up this time.”

— In talking about Nebraska’s game with Fresno State, he said he thought it was similar to UW’s game with Eastern and that “we’ll get their best shot, we know that. The key is that we give our best shot. I know Fresno moved the ball a little bit there in that ball game, but we’ll get their best shot.”

— There was talk of Nebraska’s success against UW’s receivers last year and Sarkisian said UW’s better depth this year should make it more difficult for Nebraska to “really lock in on” guys like Kearse and Devin Aguilar. “We’ve got more playmakers on the field and we can make it more difficult for them, as well,” he said.

— He said his major concern going into the week is the team’s running game and that “we’re
just not quite there yet in the run game. It just doesn’t feel quite right yet for me. Holes are collapsing too quickly for my liking. The goal for us should be 200 yards rushing a game, not 150.”

— Asked about the inability to close out the last couple of games late, he said: “Part of that is growing as a team and a program. We need to know that when we get the ball in those situatoins that we go win the game and we’re not quite there yet.”

— He said the three main keys this week are: “Being able to contain the quarterback — we haven’t done a great job of doing that in two weeks, we are giving up too many lanes for him to hurt us; our run game offensively, it has to improve, we’ve got to be able to establish ourslves on the ground and be better; and our third-down efficiency offenively and defensively has got to get better.” He said the stat that opponents have converted 21-30 third-downs is a “crazy number. We’ve never seen anything like it. I would suspect we will get better. It’s hard not to.”



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