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October 3, 2011 at 5:29 PM

Notes from Sarkisian’s radio show

As always, Monday also means UW coach Steve Sarkisian’s weekly radio show. Here are a few highlights:

— He led off by talking about the bye week and how it will help the team regroup mentally and physically. “Those were five pretty emotional weeks for our team, mentally exhausting in a sense,” he said.

— He called the Utah game one of the three best Chris Polk has played at UW, along with the WSU and Holiday Bowl games of last year, and said it might have been the first time all year he ran with no hesitation from hihs earlier knee injury. “This was the best we’ve seen him all year saturday,” he said. “He really let it go, ran phsyical, ran tough and was able to open it up and we really saw the speed he posseses.”

— He also credited the offensive line, saying that that the coaches had challenged them last week and that “they responded.”

— Asked about deferring possession to the second half after winning the coin toss, he said: “I thought all along this was going to be a really tight ball game, a possession-type ball game. Both teams possess the ball and play the play clock, so possessions were going to be at a premimum, so I thought to get the extra possession in the second half as opposed to the first half is really why I’m deferring, You get the ball to start the second half and hopefully you can finish the game with the ball to get an extra possession.”

— He said one reason he was satisfied to settle for a field goal at the end of the first half is that “we needed to regorup offensively. Even though that drive went well for us I wasn’t feeling great about what we were doing offensively — so let’s get into the halftime get into the lockerroom and make our adjustments and figure this thing out and if we can get some points and take a 10-7 lead we’ll do that as well.”

— He reiterated his reasons for leaving Keith Price in the game saying “I wanted to put the hammer down and win the game in a really convincing fashion, the kind of team we need to be as we move forward. I dont think we put Keith in any harm’s way in that last drive, those were easy completions during that last drive.”

— Of Price’s injuries, he said “he’s sore but he’s getting better actually. His knees are a lot better than they’ve ever been.” Bob Rondeau also noted that Price has a thigh bruise.

— Asked if he changed any play-calling due to Price’s injuries Saturday, Sarkisian said “once he rolled the ankle I limited the movement stuff of him getting out of the pocket. But we didn’t need it as much — we kind of attacked them right down the middle of the defense and utilized some play-action stuff for him.”

— Sarkisian also said he appreciated the way Price handled his interviews afterward, noting that it was the first time he had kind of struggled in a gme. “I thought he handled it like a pro. He represents our football program with such class, I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

— He told the story again of the halftime “challenge” to Price of pulling him on a stool and asking if he could now go back to playing “Keith Price football.” He said: “At the end of the day there’s an emotional part of college football that you have to address. I just felt like now’s the time, now’s another chance for his teammates to understand who Keith Price is, so I just had him standup on the same stool I’m on and asked him ‘are we ready to go back to playing Keith Price football now?’ And he said ‘sure coach, we can do that’ and the beauty of that was the rest of the team went nuts.”

— Rondeau noted that for all of UW’s offensive success this year, the Huskies rank ninth in total offense in the Pac-12. Sarkisian responded that he thinks UW’s formula of not being a hurry-up team and being more possession-oriented could be one reason. But he said that “we’ve got a fomular we believe in” of running the ball and playing a possession game and that the three stats he cares about most are third-down efficiency, red zone efficiency and turnover margin, and that in each “we are right near the top where we need to be.”

— Asked if the second half was the prototype of Sarkisian football he said “I love it. Love being able to run the football, being able to get into play-action pass, getting into short third downs, having the defense standing next to me. It’s just a style of play I appreciate.”

— He said the Huskies are increasingly “understanding the mental toughness it takes to go on the road and play really well.”

— He said the second half was just about perfect other than his call on third-and-one midway through the third quarter. “The biggest blunder of the second half was my dumb call on third down,” he said.

— He agreed that the game turned a bit when Utah lost quarterback Jordan Wynn. “I think Jordan Wynn had a real good command of the game, a real good presence. He definitely had a great feel and command of the offense and getting rid of the ball and different things and we thought if we could get after him it could have an affect on the game and we were able to do that.”

— He said again that the defense was the key to the game. “What a tremendous first half of an ability to be resilient. Five turnovers against that team, who had been taking care of the ball all year, was really a great effort.”

— He said Alameda Ta’amu “had one of his best ball games for us and our ability to contain the run was really a key to the game.”

— He agreed that the corners have been playing a bit more man coverage and said the plan all along has been to allow them to do more of that as they get more comfortable and expereience.

— He was asked about Desmond Trufant and said he loves everything that Trufant represents off the field and that on the field “he just about averages a turnover a game for us on defense and special teams.” He also said the Huskies may begin using Trufant even more in situations where he can blitz off the edge.

— He said he didn’t see where the pass interference was on the call against Trufant in the second quarter.

— Price also appeared on the show and said he weighed about 172 pounds when he showed up at UW in 2009. He also talked about Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick being two QBs he looked at a lot while growing up.

— Price also recounted how he had committed to UW when Tyrone Willingham was still coach and looked around a little during the interim period when the Huskies had no coach, but that he quickly recommitted once Sarkisian became coach and he had talked to Sarkisian.

— Asked about going for it on fourth down in the first quarter, he said that “going for it is an attitude thing, a mindset that our players have adopted. I don’t think we are going to change a whole lot that way. We are going to be smart, for sure, but it is an attitude thing.” He said “there was no doubt” about going for it and that “the only doubt was to run it or throw it.” He said Utah ran a different defense than he thought on that play bringing a blitzing defender from the back side to stop the play.

— He said the bye week is “a big week” for Nick Montana since he will basically get all the reps in practice. “I think it will be a great week for Nick. Somewhere along the way this season we are going to need Nick Montana and I think he is going to do great.. … I don’t think he’s wavering confidence-wise. I think he knows he’s a good football player and when his number is called he’s prepared to go in and do well.”

— He said that every assistant coach will go on the road recruiting after Tuesday’s practice leaving Sarkisian to run practice on Wednesday by himself. “I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “It’ll be like the old high-school days of having one coach running it.”

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