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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 26, 2011 at 2:43 PM

Sark bites — Utah week

I passed along some of the video earlier of Steve Sarkisian’s press conference today. Now here you go with some of the transcribed quotes:

Opening Comment: “Well, it’s good to be 1-0 in Pac-12 play. I’ll say that. You look around the conference and you see how competitive all these games are, whether it’s the North and South, or the crossover games. It’s good to be 1-0, but we understand how much work we still need to get done. We need to improve, and need to improve on both sides of the ball. And we’re going to have to because these games are only going to become more difficult as we head to Salt Lake City to play a very good Utah team, a physical team, one that’s talented and well coached, and plays the way and a style of play that I’m sure Kyle (Whittingham) is very proud of. They play hard, they play with great effort, and we’re anticipating a tremendous atmosphere Saturday night.”

On injuries:(Greg) Ducre had a concussion, and we’re anticipating that he’ll get back out on the field here in the next couple days. It wasn’t as severe of a concussion as some guys may have had in the past, so we’re hopeful of him getting back. Johri (Fogerson), we’re still awaiting results from an MRI with him; obviously Johnny Timu is sore from his injury on Saturday, but nothing serious along the lines of deterring him from playing the rest of the season or career-wise or anything of that sort. It’s just a matter of the soreness reducing so that he can play. (Nate) Fellner, it looks like he’s on track to get back on the football field, and we’re going to have to wait and see on Taz Stevenson to see what he looks like running around.”

On Hau’oli Jamora and the possibility of redshirting him: “We think so. We’re still investigating it, but we think so.”

On Keith Price and when he caught Sarkisian’s eye: “He’s been doing this for us every day in practice. He’s really improved from year one to year two…did I think he’d be leading the country in touchdown passes after four games? Probably not, but I did think he would play well. We wouldn’t have named him the starter if we didn’t think he was going to play well.”

On a turning point for Price: “You never know about a guy completely until he has to play in the game. I thought a big step for him was when we went to Oregon last year. His numbers weren’t great, but I just liked how he handled the situation.”

On recruiting Keith Price: “I knew how talented he was. At the time I was at SC and we were just recruiting (Matt) Barkley, and they were in the same league – so I knew about Keith. We weren’t actively recruiting Keith because we had Matt committed to us there, but I definitely knew about Keith’s talents and knew that he was committed to Washington. That was one of the key things we wanted to get done as soon as I took this job was keep him committed here. It wasn’t for a lack of effort from other schools; other guys tried to come after him but we really felt like he could play within our system and so keeping him committed was huge. It’s obviously paid off for us.”

On specifics of Fogerson’s injury: “He got hit on the outside of his knee and really got hit almost on a nerve. So we have to see what comes back. But we think that’s what it is. He’s got really a contusion on nerve on the outside of his knee.”

More on Timu’s injury: “He’s got a sore neck. I guess it would be equivalent to getting whiplash or something if you were in a car accident would be the best way to describe it. He’s got a sore neck. It’s going to be how his body responds to that. There’s nothing structurally wrong. There’s nothing neurologically wrong, which is obviously a great sign. It’s oine of those moments that you are extremely concerned about as a coach. All signs are pointing to he’s fine structurally, it’s just a matter of his body recovering.”

On who replaces Jamora: “We’ll use a number of guys. You’ll obviously see Josh Shirley, who I thought had a nice ball game last week. Part of that is due to the fact that I thought he had his best week of practice next week as well. You’ll see Talia Crichton back over at that spot, which is what Talia played initially here his first year and a half, before he got injured. He’s comfortable at that position. And then we’ll move Everrette (Thompson) outside. You’ll Everrette more at end, and obviously Andrew Hudson at that end spot. It will give us a chance to elevate Sione (Potoa’e) and give Danny Shelton more opportunities. It won’t just be one guy. It will be somewhat of a re-shuffling, but guys re-shuffling to positions they are accustomed to playing.”

On if Jamora was hit on the knee: “No. He was trying to really avoid a hit. It’s the way our body is structured at times. You turn the wrong way and the knee goes the other way and that kind of stuff can happen.”

On having a guy like Cort Dennison anchoring the middle with all these injuries happening: “I think without a doubt to have that kind of central point with Cort in the middle of directing the defense and playing with the passion and energy he’s been playing with. That’s been big. I think it points to the fact of how important recruiting is. You’ve gotta find depth, especially in this conference. This is a physical conference and you better have bodies that go in and play at the drop of a hat.”

On if he was in danger of not playing against Cal: “He was pretty banged up going in as well. This is going to be a big week for Cort as well to get healthy so that he’s playing capabilities as much as so as we need the other guys to.”

On believing if play-callers can get into a zone where everything is working: “I think you find an identity for your team and a rhythm for your team. I think offensively, we can and should be better than we are right now. There’s definitely areas that need to be improved upon. I didn’t think we played great offensive football Saturday. So we’ll get better this Saturday. There’s definitely area for improvement.”

On what are those areas: “Well, I didn’t think we were nearly physical enough up front, especially on the right side of our line. We were passive, we were tentative. I thought some guys that we were counting on to be dominant on the outside weren’t dominant and had some effects for us. And I thought we were hesitant at the tight end spot. I thought Cal presented us with enough multiple looks up front that I’ve seen Harvy (Michael Hartvigson) and Austin (Seferian-Jenkins) come off the ball better, block better than they did Saturday. So those are definitely areas for us to improve upon.”

On considering changes on the offensive line: “We’ll look at some things yeah. We have to reward guys for competing and have to reward guys for doing things right and playing hard and you’ve got to earn your opportunities and I don’t ever want guys to feel so comfortable that they don’t have to perform at the standard that’s been set. We’ll continue to look at things at all positions, not just the line.”

On what’s happening with the punting competition right now: “We have two punters and they will punt.”

How different is Utah with their bigger running back:John White, is that who you’re referring to? He’s not the big guy, the big guy is the other one, but Jon White is a quick kid. I’ve known him. Harbor Junior College kid. Shows a lot of quickness, lot of explosiveness. He’s a guy that once he gets into the secondary, as he has shown, can take it the distance. And he does a nice job running their zone scheme stuff. He’s really become, like you said, the focal point of their offense. And also with Wynn. Jordan Wynn handles their offense really well. They pose some real threats but definitely the White kid because he’s such a home run hitter you need to account for him.”

On what UW has to focus on going into this weekend’s game: “The football. Our ball security has been poor the last couple of ball games. We’ve prided ourselves on taking care of the ball and creating turnovers and right now Utah is the best in the conference at it. I think they’re plus-9 in the turnover margin, and we’re now only plus-1. We had a couple of critical turnovers last week in the second half. The emphasis for us has to get back to our ability to take care of the football and we’ve got to find ways create turnovers. we had opportunities last week and didn’t take advantage of it. we weren’t able to capitalize. The sack-fumble, the ball was there for us to be had. A couple of errant passes that were there for us that get through our hands. We’ve got to find a way against this football team Saturday night to minimize their opportunities of getting a short field because of us turning it over and we’ve got to find ways to capitalize on opportunities to create turnovers. It will be a big point of emphasis this week.”

On having success in the red zone: “It gets tight, when you get down in the red zone, what happens is for DBs especially, they don’t’ have to worry so much about getting beat deep because the field is so condensed, they can sit on routes a bit more and we understand that the other way when we’re on offense what happens to a defense. So you have to understand the situation that you’re in. We practice it daily. We’ll practice is again today at the end of our practice will be a 2 minute drill, what’s the score of the game, how many time outs do we have, how many time outs do they have, how much time is left on the clock. We repeatedly practice this every Monday and again on Friday and give them different scenarios and keep trying to put them in different scenarios so that when those moments come up in ball games they feel comfortable in going out and executing when they get their opportunities.”

On being deeper on defense this year: “It’s encouraging, quite honestly. Were they perfect? No. But that’s OK. We weren’t perfect before when they weren’t playing. It does speak volumes to having young guys going in there. I’d like to think that maybe the reason Alameda made a play there was because he got some reps off earlier in the ball game with Lawrence and Danny stepping in and things of that nature. It’s been good to get these guys playing. I think they’re just going to get better as we continue to get them out on the field. We’re just going to have to live with some of the growing pains of young guys playing, not just on defense but on offense as well. The ball security issues with Austin right now that we’re going through, things of that nature, we’re going to have to deal with those things and some of those mistakes until we can learn from them and ultimately get better.”

On if Shirley can play every down: “Pass rushing is his strength, but without a doubt he can play every down. He did it in the ball game Saturday. As much as he doesn’t look as big in stature, he’s one of our strongest players on the team. So he’s able to take on blocks and big tackles because of his overall strength that he can play with.”

On Shirley helping their pass rush against Cal: “He sure did. I thought we affected him some in the game. We got the one sack. I really wish we could’ve recovered the fumble; it was sitting there, of course. I thought we put on some pressure that accounted for some errant throws by him. If you look at the end of the day and the stats of how many attempts he had and completions, part of that was due to the fact that we got close. And so we’ve just got to keep trying, we’ve got to keep trying to push the right buttons to get our guys to the quarterback.”

On the young guys helping out on the goal-line stand: “I was extremely impressed. You can’t ask for more of those guys when you’re in that situation. I thought they played with a lot of passion, a lot of energy, a lot of effort at that moment. And at the end, they were able to step up and make plays that really solidified the victory.”

On if he’s ever gotten mad at Keith Price: “I really haven’t gotten mad-mad at him. He hasn’t been perfect. But I’m learning Keith Price throughout this process, like everybody else. I think that he operates better in a little bit of a looser environment. Many of the good plays that he makes for us in extending plays and buying time in the pocket, he’s going to make mistakes doing that same stuff. And I just don’t want to take that stinger from him. We’re going to coach him, we’re going to coach him on ball security, the fumble there or the sack there on the two-minute drill right before the end of the half. Those aren’t great plays from him. But he’ll learn, and he’ll learn in time. I definitely don’t want to take that stinger from him because it’s a unique asset to our offense right now.”

On his relationship with Utah offensive coordinator Norm Chow: “Well, I was fortunate enough to play with Norm at BYU, and we had tremendous success, some great wins. Then I went on and worked with him, I think it was three years, at USC. To watch him grow and move and go to UCLA and run the ‘pistol’ there for a little bit, it appears now he’s back to running the stuff that he knows and knows well. They’ve really improved offensively here in these first three games, from Week 1 to Week 2 to Week 3. It looks more like Norm Chow’s offense compared to watch I watched here last year against UCLA.”

On if he ever played well against Utah while at BYU: “No. I was awful, quite honestly. I threw four picks my junior year, three in the first half. They beat us. My senior year I think we only threw 12 passes. It was snowing. We rushed for 400 yards or something like that but we were able to win the game.”

On what that atmosphere is like: “Oh, it’s great. It’s great. They’ve got great fans. It’s not the biggest of venues in our conference, but they’ve got great fans. They do a nice job. They understand the game. It will be a great atmosphere.”

On how Austin Seferian-Jenkins is progressing: “It’s there. The next step in this thing for Austin is the consistency factor, you know, of really trying to do things right, down after down after down. That’s one of the challenges for a lot of young players. High school football, you can have one great play and you can take a play or two off and still look OK. At this level when that happens you get beat, you get beat bad — whether it’s coverage or in the run game or pass protection. So that’s the challenge with him. And the coolest part about it is, he understands it. He’s working at it. We’ve just got to take the next step, day after day after day, and hopefully that shows up more prevalent for us on Saturdays, when his consistency is there even more. But he’s a tremendous kid. His work ethic is amazing for kid that is a true freshman.”

On Price’s ability to move in the pocket: “We saw it. And it’s a credit to Doug Nussmeier for continually working that aspect of the game with all of our quarterbacks, but he definitely has a feel for it. Sometimes that’s hard to gauge in practice because the quarterbacks aren’t live and there’s a quick whistle and he’s looking back and he’s saying ‘coach they wouldn’t have got me, I was out of there’ and I’m trying to keep them healthy so that Jamora or Ta’amu don’t bother them because they want to make sure they get credited with the sack, so there is a fine line there, so you don’t really know about that stuff until games come about, and he definitely has some real suddenness in the pocket. I refer to him as slippery, he’s kind of hard to get your hands on, and he’s got an innate ability to keep his vision when all of those things are going on around him, and that’s why he’s been able to create so many big plays.”

On what has helped make Keith Price so successful: “I would say the biggest of them all is his ability to extend plays. I had a feeling he would be accurate because he has shown the accuracy, and I had a feeling he would play within the system and throw it to the right guys, maybe coaches give themselves too much credit — we try not to — not every play is going to be perfect. They coach too and they have good players on their team and they are going to cover our stuff, and Keith’s ability to extend plays and create plays I thought was really evident in the first quarter against Cal to bail us out in a sense. To me that has been the biggest surprise that he’s really been able to extend plays that didn’t look so good at the start.”

On if Price can keep it up: “I hope so. We are pretty good when he’s doing that. In time what I think is going to happen is somebody one of these days is going to come and say ‘let’s stop Keith Price’ and that’s when Chris Polk can really open up and do the things he’s doing. But until then if people are going to keep focusing on making sure they can stop No. 1 then 17 with the weapons he’s got around him can make some plays.”

On what’s unique about Utah’s defense and why they are able to cause turnovers: “I think turnovers occur, in my opinion, is one you have to teach tackling the football, but turnovers really occur with teams that play with great effort. When the ball does hit the floor they have enough bodies flying to the football that they increase their opportunities of recovery and so they take advantage of opportunities. When the ball is on the ground very few times do they not get it because they play with such great effort.”

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