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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 19, 2011 at 1:53 PM

Monday press conference update and video

Steve Sarkisian’s weekly Monday press conference is over, and it’s fair to say the UW coach seemed pretty businesslike today, Saturday’s loss surely still resonating and with another tough task awaiting this Saturday.

To briefly hit on a few key points before passing along the whole thing — as well as some video — Sarkisian said:

— He’s gotten no further explanation of any of the questionable calls from Saturday, but also said it doesn’t matter now as the team has to move on (but there is some more elabaration about some of the specifics in the quotes below);

Jesse Callier is the most questionable of the newly-injured players with the hamstring suffered Saturday;

Keith Price’s left knee is now the bigger issue with him than the right knee. But Sarkisian said Price will play Saturday;

— He believes and trusts in defensive coordinator Nick Holt and promises that the defense will “get better”;

— He thinks the entire football team got caught up in the emotion of what they thought were bad calls, something they need to handle better next time.

Now for some video of what Sarkisian said today with some more detailed quotes following:

[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”1168406007001″][/do]

Opening statement: “Pac-12 week. As we finish up the pre-season, I think we’ve learned a lot about our football team – areas that we can count on, areas that need improvement. But the reality is, the season is now underway. And it’s underway Saturday against a very tough opponent in Cal, a 3-0 football team. It’s going to be great to be coming home to Husky Stadium, and look forward to playing.”

On if he’d gotten any further explanation of the calls Saturday: “Nope.”

On how frustrating the calls were: “Extremely frustrating. but there’s nothing you can do about it. You have to be concerned with the things that you can control, and the things that are out of our hands – there’s nothing you can do about it.”

On getting caught up in the emotion of the blown calls: “I think as a football team we did, coaches included.”

On how you rectify it: “You talk about it after the game – like we did. And we’ll talk about it again today, and understand that’s out of our control. If they want to call us for excessive celebration or catch interference, or sideline interference…whatever other penalties those were…this is the hand we’re dealt. Let’s go play with it.”

On sensing the frustration building with the calls: “Sure. I really want to credit our coaches and our kids for regrouping. I thought it took a little longer than I would have liked. I thought we did regroup, I thought we found a way to get our composure back, get back to competing and playing and not distracted. But that’s what happens when you go on the road, hostile environment, things don’t go your way. You get distracted, and that’s how you lose. That’s why one team has a home-field advantage. I felt like we got distracted, and as I referred to – melted down there for a while. But we found a way to get back right and it was just a little too late. I wish we had about another 8-10 minutes left in the ballgame…I think we had a chance.”

On Keith Price’s play: “He’s playing phenomenal football for us right now. He’s been lights out…he’s managed the game extremely well. His demeanor, his command, his competitiveness…he’s all we ever could have asked for up until this point through three games.”

On Price’s knees: “He’s sore, but that’s football. You learn to live through some of the injuries and the pain and whatnot that you have. I think we learned a lot about Keith Price through the first quarter of the season. He’s a tough kid, he’s got a play-making ability about him, and I think our teammates have learned a lot about him and have rallied behind him as well. He’ll be sore, but it won’t keep him off the field.”

On if there’s structural damage to the knees: “No.”

On which of Price’s knees is more injured now: “The new injury. The right one is actually just about healed now. It’s kind of funny. He will be taking the knee brace off the right one and putting it on his left one now. Maybe in a couple weeks he’ll be back to knee-brace free football. ”

On how close Price was to coming out: “It was close. We got a feel for what it was. He felt fine to go. Maybe he didn’t know how quite it severe it was till he went to scramble there really late in the game when he was up through the middle and it was wide open and he felt like he couldn’t open up and go. We did assess it, but we felt like our best chance to win that game right then was with Keith Price in the game. ”

On Price and his ability to buy time, but also how he can take big hits for it, like the one he suffered against NU’s Jared Crick: “That’s his game. You learn about players, and that’s his style of play. He’ll learn. He’ll learn the play with Crick, obviously that was a pretty big hit – and he got right up, which was great. He’ll learn that certain scenarios, especially third down red zone, we don’t need that sack right there. It’s OK to throw the ball away and ensure ourselves a field goal. There’s areas of the game where he’s going to continually improve, and that’s one of them. But I’m not going to take away one of his stingers, which is his ability to create. He’s definitely got that. We’ve seen that through three weeks now. He’s got an innate ability to extend plays and keep his vision and find open receivers downfield.”

On the offensive line: “I thought they played pretty well. I thought Erik Kohler had his best ball game. I thought Drew (Schaefer) had a nice ballgame inside. (Colin) Tanigawa, that’s a tough matchup there going against a senior All-American (Jared Crick), and I thought Colin held his own. Even the sack Crick gets is really on Keith scrambling around, so I was impressed with those guys. I was impressed with Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ blocking ability, I thought he blocked his best that he has in his first three games so he is growing at the position, at well. We are getting close up front. We are getting to where I think there is a couple of runs in there that I wouldn’t be surprised if Chris (Polk) breaks for long ones. We are close, the creases are starting to become what we need and so to go in there for Chris to rush for whatever he rushed for 130 or whatever that was, against that defense, knowing they were going to play with some help for the secondary and give us some opportunity to run the ball was encouraging, but I know we can be better.”

On if Polk is 100 percent: “Oh yeah.”

On Cal’s defense: “They are a real physical group up front. They have a tremendous front seven and they are aggressive in the secondary. They rely on their corners to play one-on-one coverage and they are able to do that — a couple big plays against Colorado. But the reality is they are a good defensive football team and they really were last year, too, so it poses a great challenge for us offensively.”

On Cal QB Zach Maynard: “Athletic guy, can create, similar to Keith in that they can buy time and create out of the pocket so you have to account for him. He really makes them go and makes them tick. So this is the fourth straight week of us facing an athletic quarterback back there that can buy time and we’ve got to find a way to contain him. Last week everything we talked about that we need to be better on third down, better on third down, we were, we held Nebraska to 3-12 and did a good job of third-down defense so hopefully that part of the game carries over and now we’ve got to solidify our first and second down defense as well and eliminate big plays, we weren’t able to do that last week.”

On the health of Nate Fellner: “We’re hopeful. Have to see, have to see him run around. We shut him down last week to really rest him but it will be great to get next week.”

On Justin Glenn: “Justin had a tremendous ballgame.”

On the kickoff return rotation with Callier out: “I thought it cleaned up with Kevin (Smith) and Kasen (Williams) back there. I thought Kasen looked the most comfortable I’ve seen him look now in three games, with the punt returns, the kickoff returns, the few times on the offensive side of the ball. So I think he’s grown and matured at that level. And, you know, Bishop (Sankey), he’ll learn from it. He’ll learn from it. I just got done meeting with Bishop. I think back to our opening kickoff last year, where the best player on our team dropped the opening kickoff at BYU, and he turned out to have a pretty good season too, Chris Polk. You learn from those things in your career, so he’ll be fine. Bishop will bounce back.”

So Sankey was just the next guy in line?: “Yup. That was the way it was set up.”

Did you intentionally get Kasen Williams more involved in the game plan?: “We were trying to get him more involved in the flow of the game, and I think we did that. You know, we missed a slant on a third down there early in the game, we caught him on kind of a fade-stop there later in the game and had some other opportunities for him. Hopefully we can continue to watch him grow. It’s tough to break him in. How do you take James Johnson off the field right now? He had a great game. How do you take Jermaine off the field? It’s a great problem to have, and we’ve just got to work through it and make sure Kasen gets his opportunities as well.

On the unblocked blitzers needing to get to the QB: “It’s the belief in knowing and going. When you know, you can go faster. A prime example is the third-down play where (Desmond) Trufant gets the hit on the quarterback and it’s nearly an interception by (Alameda) Ta’amu. The pressure calls for Tru, he’s unblocked – really, he’s blocked, the running back is set there to take him, but he rushed the quarterback with an intent to hit the quarterback, without hesitation, and it showed up. He got to the quarterback and nearly got a sack-caused-fumble, got the ball tipped into the air. We need more guys, when they’re called upon to rush the passer, that’s how you have to go. You’ve got to go full-speed, you can’t be hesitant.”

On Keith Price’s demeanor: “He’s a competitive guy. You should see him play basketball. He doesn’t ever want to lose. All of us took the loss very difficult on Saturday, but I don’t know if anybody took it any harder than he did. That one hurt him. He’s got a real passion. Growing up here, within our culture, within our team, I think he loves his teammates and respects them and wants to do everything he can to give them the best chance to win.”

On the criticism being levied at Nick Holt: “I trust Nick Holt. I believe in Nick Holt. I believe in our defensive staff. They are tremendous coaches. I’ve seen them coach for years. And we will get better.”

On the sideline interference call: “I didn’t agree with the call. It was a dead-ball (foul). I’ve never seen a sideline interference on a dead ball.”

On if Holt was arguing about the call: “That’s not what he was doing. He was bringing his defense up. … I was challenging the call… Vehemently.”

On if any of the calls looked any better after reviewing the film: “No. Not in my opinion. We talked to the Pac-12, gave our official complaints on what we thought should have been, and we’ll move forward. That’s all we can do.”

On if there’s a lesson to be learned in how the team handled the calls: “Well, you know, I think for me personally, I am a passionate guy. I want to everything I can for our kids to give them the best chance to win. And I felt like there was a point there that maybe my emotions got the best of me because I didn’t feel like it was right. But I’ve got to show more composure, if I want our kids to show more composure.”

On if that’s the first time he’s blown his top like that: “No, but probably for an extended period of time (it was).”

On if Cal has an edge having had an easy game last week: “I don’t know. They got to play a lot of guys obviously and maybe an opportunity to experiment with some things here and there and we were in a very difficult environment. I think we learned a lot about ourselves and maybe an advantage that way and there is always something to rally behind that way and leaving a bad taste in your mouth. I don’t know until the game comes. I think there are advantages to both of those. But i think this was a good experience for us. there were a lot of good things coming out of our ball game with Nebraska and we learned a lot about ourselves that we can take from and grow from. Hopefully the health factor doesn’t play into Saturday. Hopefully we can get back to feeling good an be a healthy football team.”

On if he has any thoughts on the Pac-16 rumors: “I don’t know. the first thing that just jumps out to me as a coach, if that’s what we decide to do, I think that opens up another fertile recruiting ground for us to where it’s really tangible for a kid from Texas to maybe come to the University of Washington but outside of that I don’t know. I don’t understand all the ramifications of how it would get broken up and the schedule and all that, that’s out of my hands.”

On Princeton Fuimaono’s health: “I think Princeton will be fine. The other one of concern is Jesse (Callier). He kind of banged his knee, but it’s just sore in the back. It’s kind of an odd injury. He’ll be day to day as well. But I think his is more serious than Princeton’s.”

On if Price’s injuries have impacted his play: “Keith just naturally he’s a quicker guy than he is faster. We are seeing the elusiveness in the pockets. I think he’d probably have a few more rushing yards if he was a 100 percent healthy. But he understands his limitations right now. He’s taking care of himself. I like the fact that he slid there early in the ball game when he had a scramble up the middle to take care of himself. We’ll continue to stress that upon him until he can get healthy where he can run even more than he is. But he’s still a dangerous player on the field. ”

On overall thoughts on the defense: “I feel a couple things. One, I’m sick that they got the ball five times on our half of the field to start drives. I wish offensively we got the ball five times on the opponents half of the field to start drive. It makes life a lot easier, you can call a more aggressive style of game, you are already almost in scoring potential. Lot of issues there. Two, I think our players need to believe in our calls better. When we are calling pressures, you need to go. This is the third straight week where we have players unblocked against protections and we are not hitting the quarterback. So we’ve got to coach that aspect better, we’ve got to do it better. Three, we need to listen to the coaching points better. When we remind you that one of the first two plays is going to be a play action pass and they are going to try and throw it over our head, it’s not okay to get beat deep. That’s not okay. So we’ve got to coach that better.

On if there was supposed to be safety help on the first play of the game: “That was corner responsibility.”

On how Dennison is holding up: “He’s a middle linebacker in the Pac 12 and he just got done playing a real physical Big 10 team. He’s a warrior. I’ve learned that about Cort now heading into year three with him. He’ll be fine.”

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