Washington coach Steve Sarkisian had his turn on the Pac-12 Coaches Conference Call today.
And while there was no real news, there was some interesting stuff, particularly when he was asked some theoretical questions about turnovers, pace of play, offensive balance and rebuilding a program.
— On turnovers, Sarkisian reiterated his stance that they are as important as anything else in determining the winner of a game saying “turnovers can create emotion for a football team and it can spread to where your entire team plays better.”
Asked how much turnovers can be consistently created versus how much getting a lot of them can be just a matter of chance, he said turnovers “come in so many different ways you can’t just say ‘this is why turnovers occur — this is the one reason why.”’
He said UW’s main reason for losing turnovers this year is that “our quarterback has been loose with the ball when scrambling in the pocket” and throwing interceptions in the red zone.
“They can come from rushing the passer, they can come from strip attempts, they can come from poor quarterback play, or great play by the defense,” he said.
— On pace of offensive play, Sarkisian said “there are obviously three schools of thought” on how quickly to play on offense. “One is, you score as fast as you can score and you lengthen the game to get as many opportunities for your offense,” he said. “Two is you try to shorten the game and minimize possessions and opportunities for the opponent’s offense. And three is it doesn’t factor one way or the other. I would like to think we are somewhere within the last two where early in the game that time of possession is not a factor for me. But late in halves of the first half or the second half we do try to minimize the possessions for our opponent so we do slow things down with four minutes or less to go in either half of the game. But earlier in the game we don’t play that factor at all.”
— On offensive balance, he said “the one unique thing about us is that we are pretty multiple. We have the ability to line up in two backs and two tight ends and run the football and play-action pass but I think we also have the ability to spread you out and have some of the spread elements to our offense. We try to pride ourselves on being a smart football team, one that can utilize multiple personnel groupings, multiple formations and shifts and motions to run the things that we like to run so I don’t know if that is unique to us by any means but that is what our approach is going into every ballgame.”
— On rebuilding a program, when asked the first couple of things that are needed to get on the right path, he said “one is you need to hire a great staff and you need to take the time to hire a staff that you believe in and that can fit in the culture that you are trying to create. So many times you watch guys and they want to come in and create a culture yet they don’t hire to that culture. So I think that is the first thing, you have to find guys that fit the personality and the culture that you are trying to create. Two is be patient in recruiting. This is learing from example — I thought maybe we reached a little too much our first year where be patient and maybe save the scholarships for the second year. You get hired late and you are scrambling to try to put together a class and maybe you don’t know the true character of all the kids because of the lack of time in recruiting them, so I would say be patient in recruiting. And then the third is continually find ways to get your current team to believe in what you are doing, and that can come in so many different ways. That can come on the practice field, it can come in team meetings, it can come in team exercises you are doing as a group from gameday opportunities, but to continually find ways to reinforce the beliefs that you want them to believe in so that the culture can start to change.”
Asked if he thinks the Huskies can get back to the glory days of Don James and regular Top 10 rankings and Rose Bowls, he said: “I think we can get back to that level and I think we are on our way. How quickly we get there is I guess the mystery of it all. But I think we can get there. This is a tremendous university, a beautiful city to live in, great support from our fan base here and we have the history and tradition. And I firmly believe that anytime a football program has been to that place before it is a lot easier to find your way back and to find your way back on a consistent level. So that’s the journey that we are on and we’ll see if we can get there.”
And asked if there are some traps along the way, particularly getting soft with a little success, he said “without a doubt” and repeated the analogy he said at his Monday press conference about climbing a mountain and that “‘we are inexperienced mountain climbers right now, we are on our way up the mountain. … we’re trying to get to the top and as you have successes and work your way up the montain, these are places we haven’t been before. So our ability to focus
on the next step as a mountain climber would is what is critical in these times for us and not to worry about what lies ahead looking up or looking back down on it because you can slip and slide back down, so our focus is on the next step and it’s got to continue to be that way.”
— Sarkisian also said that he was “very surprised” about the firing of Arizona coach Mike Stoops and that “I have the utmost respect for Mike and his ability to coach football. He is a dang good football coach and we have had tremendous battles over the years and I think he did a great job at Arizona from what he inherited to get them to go to three consecutive bowl gamees I was extremely impressed of the job he did.”
— He also said of Chris Polk that one of his greatest traits is his versatility to be able to run well out of Power I-formations as well as out of spread formations and also to catch the ball. “Not all backs can do that but Chris has the ability to do all of those things,” he said.