Washington coach Steve Sarkisian elaborated in a little more detail what he thinks might help his team’s defense during his coaches show tonight.
And specifically, he said the team needs to get a little more aggressive to get some pressure on the passer.
“For me, the biggest concern that’s going on with our defense right now is our ability to play aggressive, attacking football, especially at the line of scrimmage, mostly with four front seven — our front four and our backers,” he said.
“And that’s in the run game and the pass game, to penetrate the line of scrimmage, whether it be in the run game or to sink the pocket and apply pressure in the passing game. So I think we are obviously looking at some things to generate that from a calling standpoint to call more pressures and put our corners in some positions where they are going to have to play some more man-to-man coverage. But we can’t continue to just sit there and allow a four-man rush or four-man front or a five-man front and defending the run and just sit there and wait it out. We need to be more aggressive so if we are not going to do it in our base calls we are going to have to do it by developing more pressure type calls to get after people.”
Here are a few other notes from the show. …
— Sarkisian said the defensive gameplan against Stanford was to play a fairly basic scheme, saying that the Huskies had tried to a lot of blitzes and pressures the past two years and that Andrew Luck had often recognized those and audibled into big plays. So he said the philosophy was “let’s anchor in, let’s play the run, let’s sit in there and try to wait them out and not give up the big pass play, which is how they’ve been hurting other teams. And they just wore us out and when they did it was a gash.” He said he “didn’t think they’d have the patience to do it and they hung in there from a patience standpoint and wore us out.”
— He said the team ultimately tried a lot of different things on defense but struggled to find something that would work. “Adjustments are constant,” he said. “We tried. It wasn’t for lack of trying — we moved guys into different gaps, different alignments, and ultimately we got blocked and stayed blocked. … I want to give Stanford their credit but we are better than that. … if it’s a one-on-one with a tight end and you are a defensive end, sooner or later you get off those blocks and we were unable to do that Saturday night.”
— Sarkisian said that while a lot of focus has gone on the defense for giving up so many points that the offense deserves it’s share of the blame for not scoring enough and keeping Stanford’s offense off the field. “It goes both ways. We should have scored at least 35 points at a minimum and if we do that, I guarantee they don’t score 65 points,” he said.
— Sarkisian said he was particularly mad at himself for the calls on the second drive of the third quarter, saying it was obvious Stanford was going to blitz there and he didn’t make good calls that would work in those situations.
— He said Chris Polk was “the most physical player on the field” in Saturday’s game.
— He said a key to the game was UW’s inability to turn the 321 yards into more than 14 points in the first half. “When you have that many yards and you are going up and down the field like that and you only have 14 points, it’s disappointing,” he said.
— He said Keith Price “didn’t want to come out of the game and I kind of had to rationalize why he had to come out but I was proud of how he stayed in the game (on the sidelines).”
— Price wasn’t the only one who kept his attitude good throughout the game, he said. “We played much harder late in this game than we did a year ago when it was 41-0, so if there is a silver lining it’s that our kids continued to battle,” he said.
— He said the pass protection was a real issue. “We were not very good protection-wise Saturday night for whatever reason. … those weren’t the most talented rushers that we’ve seen but for whatever reason we lost focus and lost some one-on-one matchups.”
— He talked about what was a real turning point to the game, the interception return for a touchdown right before halftime by Stanford. It was noted that the play came on third down after UW had lost three yards on a Polk run. Sarkisian said the play hadn’t worked that well in practice during the week and that that “call is one I wish I had back. We were in a little bit of a no-huddle nose and went to a power play and they really went to a hard charge off the edge and we didn’t block it correctly.” He said of the pass that Price has “got a chance for a very big play to Devin Aguilar and it got a little muddy in there and he didn’t see the defender slide in there in front of Jermaine Kearse.
— It was brought up that Alameda Ta’amu struggled in the game and Sarkisian agreed saying “I think Alameda would be the first one to tell you he can play better. We’ve seen him be a lot more productive than that. … one of the keys, and I talked to ‘Meda today, is we’ve got to get him back to the level of play that he set.’ … I think we’ll see Alameda Ta’amu bounce back from this one and be the productive force we know he can be.”
— He said he thought the defense usually was able to adjust to get in the right spot but that “now (we) have to win that one-on-one battle and we obviously didn’t win nearly enough of those one-on-one matchups to put us in those situations that would have benefitted us, those third-and-longs, which obviously didn’t happen.”
— He said of Saturday’s loss that “that one hurt because I thought we could play with Stanford” adding that he might have been wrong about what he thought the team could do in some areas and that in others the team just didn’t perform.
— He said he thought the meeting with the team today was a good one and that he showed clips of 12-14 plays that “were the way the team needed to play” but that “unfortunately there were 120-odd snaps that weren’t the way we wanted to be playing.” He added he’s not worried about any trouble bouncing back. “I expect a great week of work and for us to come back and battle against a much better Arizona team than people think,” he said.
— Asked if he thought the fact that Stanford had so dominated UW last year ever crept into everyone’s heads he said he thought it did after the series where the Huskies missed the field to remain down 24-14 and then Stanford quickly scored. “You could just feel the momentum going and I thought a lot of the thoughts of last year started to creep back in,” he said.
— He said if he had a coaches poll vote he would have Stanford at least No. 3 if not higher and that it also had to be remembered how good Stanford is in assessing the loss. “You have to remind yourself they’ve been doing this to the last 15 teams they have played against,” he said.