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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 10, 2011 at 2:48 PM

Sark bites — Colorado edition

With the Huskies back to work after a bye, UW coach Steve Sarkisian kicked off the week with his usual Monday press conference.

Here’s some of what he said:

Opening statement: “Well, as much as we enjoyed the bye week and getting healthy and getting our young players a lot of opportunities to perform and to play, it’s great to have game week back. This is why we do what we do; to play in football games and to prepare ourselves for those ball games. It’s great to be back going again. We brought the team back in last night, and I thought they were very energized, enthused, excited. All in all, we’re primed for a good week of preparation, and ultimately playing a nice ball game on Saturday. In regards to Colorado, it’s been pretty fascinating watching them. Got a chance to watch some TV copies of some of their games, and to me they are eerily similar to who we were a couple years ago. I think they have talent on their football team, I think they are well-coached, I think they play hard and they are trying to find a way to get over the hump and to win some of these tight ball games. You look at the Cal loss in overtime, you look at the loss to Washington State late in the game, and so…they are trying to find a way to win. But I will say I’ve been impressed with the way they play and the style in which they play. Coach (Jon) Embree’s done a really nice job of instilling the type of team that he wants, and it’s just a battle. But very similar to who we were two years ago and very impressed with the way they’re approaching week-to-week and how they play.”

On the health of the team: “We gave Keith (Price) essentially the entire week off, so he looks really good and back ready to go. Nate Fellner’s back going again, which is good to have him back out there. Jesse Callier’s healthy again, which is key to our offensive football team, the versatility that he brings and as well on special teams. The one guy that’s still pretty nicked up with a high ankle sprain is Kasen Williams. We’ll have to evaluate him, but I would imagine Kasen’s going to be a game-time decision come Saturday as that ankle heals throughout the week. He’ll be pretty limited again today. Hopefully with the rest we can get him back by Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, somewhere in there. I think it’s important for Kasen to fight to get back on the field, because his comfort level playing in games has only grown from week to week to week. I think we need him offensively; obviously we need him in the return game on punt returns, so it’ll be critical to get him back out there. I know he’s doing everything possible to make that happen, so we’ll see how that goes. But as far as the rest of our football team – excluding the guys with season-ending injuries – we look very healthy.”

On specifics with Keith Price and his health: “The thing that is only really bugging him at this point now is his ankle, which he did early in the second or third drive of the game versus Utah on the sack backed up. If there’s any limitations, that’s the one. But as we know, ankle sprains are funny things; they don’t seem like much, but they can really inhibit your ability to do some of the things you like to do. We’ll watch him closely this week. He’s gonna need to get some full-speed reps going here, and it’ll start today to get the rhythm and the timing back in his game. But I definitely want him to continue to heal as this week moves forward so that ankle is as close to 100 percent as it can be on Saturday.”

On young players that stood out during the bye week: “I thought Travis Feeney had a really nice week last week, I thought Jamaal Jones had a really nice week last week what he was able to do catching the football. I thought all the young linebackers – all of those guys – played really well; Scotty Lawyer, Matt Lyons, Nick Holt, I thought had a really nice week of work last week. I think Dexter Charles is improving on the offensive line. Those are the guys that really jump out at me the most right now.”

On Colorado’s diminutive running back Rodney Stewart: “He is an excellent football player and they are one of the best screen teams we have seen now in three years of preparing for opponents and part of that is his stature — he can get caught in there and stuck in there behind offensive lineman and next thing you know they dip the ball out to him and he makes one cut and they are huge plays and it happened again last week against Stanford I think he had over a 70-yard completion on a screen, so his stature pays off for him mostly in the screen game because you can’t, you don’t see him very well and then boom, he’s out, and they do a great job of coaching the screen game, so it will be a huge point of emphasis for us this week without a doubt.

On if he is similar to Jacquizz Rodgers: “Oh yeah, their running style, their quickness. I think they are both quicker maybe than they are fast, their ability to get to top speed in a hurry and to make full-speed cuts, I would say that is a good comparison.”

On Colorado having gotten a lot of sacks: “They play aggressive defense. I think where it shows up the most is in third-and-long. They’ve got a lot of exotic pressures that there’s a real NFL influence to their defense with what they do on third-down situations, but they are aggressive on first and second down as well — a lot of five-man pressures. And they do a good job of getting after the quarterback. They rush with a purpose, that’s for sure, when there guys are coming.”

On if the perception of UW is changing among recruits: “I think people are definitely aware of the Huskies right now. We’ve had some opportunities to be on television and have performed pretty well so I think people know about the Huskies and where we started and what we look like now so it’s been effective for us in recruiting, definitely in-state with a lot of our in-state kids but also out of state as we reach out there and try to find some kids out of our region..”

On the progress of the offensive line: “Yeah, again, to me an offensive line is similar to a lot of parts of a football team — they are a constant work in progress. They are constantly evolving and as we evolve as a team they evolve, they change and I just don’t think we can be complacent where we are at as an offensive line. We have to continue to improve on a lot of fronts. One of my concerns coming out of the bye week is the number of sacks we have taken. Part of that is on the quarterback and part of that is on the O-line, there are some things there, so there are always areas that we are going to focus in on each group and there are things there with the O-line we have to focus on.”

On how Nick Montana looked in practice last week: “I thought he had an excellent week of work. When you are prepping game-week-wise, your reps can be somewhat limited. He’s been fortunate. With Keith being kind of banged up, he’s been getting more reps the last month of the season then a normal back-up would. So when the bye week came around for him this week, I thought he was in a really good rhythm of throwing the ball and commanding the offense. I thought he had an excellent week. Of all of our team, that really played, he probably had the best week of all of them.”
On how Colorado is similar to UW in 2009: “What we went through, you’re changing the culture, you’ve got a mixture of guys from an older staff that moved on to your influx of young players. I think they’ve played already 13 freshmen this year. So you are trying to bring the team together and play with a mindset and the beliefs you have as a coach. A lot of young guys running around making some plays, making some mistakes, very similar.”
On when he felt UW finally turned the corner: “I’m not sure if we’ve turned the corner quite honestly. You don’t know exactly where to pinpoint one thing in there. I do know we were fortunate in that year to kind of get a win to reinforce some of the beliefs we were trying to teach. Obviously beating SC here in tha that third game of the year was helpful for our locker room and our team meeting room in the belief we were trying to instill. It’s an ongoing challenge – how your team plays. We’ve had moments where we really play the way we want to be playing and the style with which we want to play. And there are moments when we don’t, which we touched on from earlier in this year. That’s the battle from week to week. But I think we’ve found much more consistency in our style of play, of who we are. And I think that’s one of the tough things when you are getting started – is consistently doing things the way you want them done, week to week, game to game, play to play, series to series, to where you become a consistent football team. That was one of our goals coming into this season. So I didn’t think even after year two we had gotten to that point because of some of our ups and downs. I didn’t think we opened the year the way we needed to against Eastern. But I think the last couple of weeks, we are really playing the way we want to be playing. I think the consistency is big factor in that.”

On avoiding being overconfident against Colorado: “I just don’t think we are at a stage as a football team that to be overconfident at all. We use the analogy quite a bit here. If we are mountain climbers and we are climbing Rainier here, we are pretty inexperienced climbers right now. I don’t think we are at a point where we can really look down to see what we’ve accomplished yet. And I don’t think we are at a point to where we can look up to see how much further we have to go. We have to focus on our very next step. We just don’t have enough experience on the mountain right now to be focusing on feeling too good about ourselves. Because one false step and we could slide right back down.”
Thoughts on not being ranked: “I think that stuff takes care of itself. It’s obviously a perception of who we are. It doesn’t necessarily means that’s who you are. I think we are a little bit better than where we are ranked, but perception is what it is. If we want to be in the Top 25, we need to get our perception changed of who we are. To do that, you have to go out and play. And you have to play in a style and a manner that is impressive. We haven’t been impressive enough in perception’s eyes.”

On having a lot of depth now on defense: “That’s a great problem to have. I’ve said this for years now, in this conference you have to have depth if you want to be successful over an extended period of time. We’re seeing the value of the depth that we have. Doing the depth chart this morning for you guys, I think on the defensive side of the ball we have five ‘ors.’ That’s a really good problem to have. We’re starting to develop the depth that’s needed in this conference that when a guy gets banged up another guy can step in and play. we’ll have a plan in place for this weekend at all these different position groupings, whether it’s Princeton (Fuimaono) and Garret (Gilliland) or Nate (Fellner) and Justin (Glenn), or Johnny (Timu) and Jamaal (Kearse) or Sione (Potoa’e) or Semisi (Tokolahi) or Quinton (Richardson) and Greg (Ducre), we’ll give them opportunities to play and keep us a fresh football team, but also give them their chances to go play football. They’ve earned it.”

On what football activities most hurt Kasen Williams: “I think it’s running routes, those sharp cuts coming in and out of breaks, the punt return thing is a little easier, it’s get to the spot, catch it and then it’s a vertical run. I think where it effects him most is on the types of routes where you’re running a comeback or a curl route where you have to plant and come back to the quarterback. That’s where it’s the most effect on him.”

On Everrette Thompson being comfortable at defensive end: “Yeah, I really like Everette out there. There are going to be games where we use everette more inside but right now I like where he’s at playing end.”

On the offense scoring 30 points in every game: “I thought we would be pretty good on offense. I felt like we had the depth on offense which we’re seeing at the receiver spot and the skill positions. You know, some questions there about the quarterback and the o-line but I thought we would be pretty good and so far, so good.”

Thoughts on the passing of Al Davis: “Yeah. When I got the news of that yesterday morning, pretty … you take a step back. I’ve had some experiences with Mr. Davis, whether it be spending a near with him under Norv Turner, or going through the interview process to be a head coach there with him a few years back. A very unique man. A lot of people have had impact or influence on football over the past 50 years, but I don’t think any one single man has had more of an impact on our game that we play today than Al Davis. On a lot of different fronts. The style of play. The ability to throw the ball down field when nobody was doing that. The way he recruited or drafted the athletes, that now we are seeing — everybody’s playing with the speed factor of the game. Obviously, the merger. Very thankful for everything he did. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”

On what it was like to interview with Al Davis: “The most unique experience of my life. There is no manual to get ready for an interview with Al Davis. You cover everything from A to Z in an interview, but you never go A to Z. It might go Q then K then A then X then L. It’s all over the place. And I think that’s what makes him unique. I think he’s got a unique way of seeing who you are as a person. And I really appreciated that interview. Because I found out a lot about myself and what was important. But also, you prepare even harder, for whatever reason. You knew you were going to sit in front of Al Davis for six, eight hours, however long that would be. Not to demean anyone else, but it was Al Davis. And so you wanted to put your best foot forward. And I appreciated just his presence and him allowing me to do that.”
On the most difficult question to answer: “What would be the pregame meal? Quite honestly. And that was one of the first ones.”
On if he was prepared for that one: “No, but I came up with a pretty good answer. Chicken parm.”
On if it was a tough decision to say not to the Raiders: “Sure. Sure. Being a head coach in the National Football League, there’s only 32 of them in the world. In a lot of ways, that’s the pinnacle of our profession. So when you have to make those tough decisions, you have to look at them all individually and take the face off of it, and take the jerseys off of it. I’m a born and raised Los Angeles kid. I watched the Oakland Raiders my whole childhood, what was the Los Angeles Raiders and is now the Oakland Raiders. Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson and Jay Schroeder, all those great players that had been there. Lester Hayes. I could go on and on. Ted Hendricks, Lyle Alzado, Howie Long. Those were the guys. So when the opportunity came, I had to try to remove the emotion of I-get-to-go-coach-the-Oakland-Raiders and is this the best thing for my family? For myself, for my family and for our careers as we move forward? And I just didn’t feel like it was the right time to be taking that job.”



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