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September 23, 2011 at 12:06 PM

Notes from Sarkisian’s appearance on KJR-AM

UW coach Steve Sarkisian appeared on KJR-AM this morning to talk about tomorrow’s game against Cal.

Here are a few highlights:

— Nothing really new on the personnel front. He said Keith Price’s right knee (the one he hurt against EWU) is getting close to 100 percent but the left knee remains a bit of an issue, but seems to be progressing more quickly than did the right knee. He said he won’t be 100 percent tomorrow but will be more than well enough to play effectively. He said Nate Fellner will be available but not sure how much, and that Jesse Callier will be good to go.

— Maybe his most interesting comment came when asked about the criticism this week levied at UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt. Asked what he makes of it, he said: “I take it as not an attack by any means but I take as a little bit of a shot toward me more than Nick, quite honestly. These are my guys, this coaching staff are my guys. I hired them for a reason, I believe in them. We all have our ups and our downs, our moments when we are really good calling plays and our games where we are not as good, that’s the nature of the business. And so I feel like some of it is a little bit extreme, quite honestly. But I also understand it comes with the territory. This is the job that we chose, the profession that we chose to be part of, and with this profession, with this job comes the criticism. And if I didn’t think Nick could handle it or I could handle it or any of our other coaches I wouldn’t have chosen them to be part of this staff.”

— He said that he has liked the mentality of the team this week in bouncing back from the Nebraska loss. he said he saw “pain, anguish, tears, frustration” in the locker room after the game because the Huskies had expected to win, and that that is “a great mentality. We hadn’t lost in quite a while, and what I learned is that we have a team that believes and expects to win, and that’s a great mentality to have.”

— He said the hope is to begin rotating players on the defensive front more often tomorrow than the team has done in earlier games to make sure the regulars are fresh for the second half.

— He was asked about his communication with the defense during the game and said “I’m very aware of what is happening with our defense. I think one of the misnomers is that I don’t have a clue what our opponent is doing on offense. … there’s a constant line of communication. I know every call that we are sending in and exactly what we are supposed to be doing.”

— He also said again he has complete faith that the defense will soon improve. “I feel great about what we are doing and my role and our defensive staff. They will get it right. They have gotten it right before. It’s just taking a little longer this time than we’d like it to.”

— Asked the main thing that has to happen for the defense to improve he said “our playmakers, the guys that we know are proven playmakers, we need them to make plays” and that the younger players need to continue to show enough improvement for the coaches to have the confidence to put them out there on gameday.

— Among the challenges of facing Cal are receivers Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones. Sarkisian said “it’s no secret” Cal will try to get the ball to those guys a lot and the key for UW is to recognize where they are on the field quickly.

— He said Cal’s offense poses a challenge in its “multiplicity” which he compared what UW does in terms of its variety of plays and formations.

— Defensively, he again cited Cal’s front, calling it a “big, physical group up front.”

— Asked about Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, he said that Williams “looked the most comfortable” that he has in any game last week at Nebraska and that “he is going to get his opportunities even more tomorrow.” He said there were three or four other passes last week designed to go to Seferian-Jenkins that just didn’t get there. He said each is coming along well and that “when that light goes on, look out.”

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