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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 31, 2011 at 5:31 PM

Notes from the coaches show

Here are a few notes from UW coach Steve Sarkisian’s coaches show. …

— Though first, a quick note that little to really report from practice. WR James Johnson did not practice with his right foot in a boot, as Sarkisian had said would be the case earlier in the day. No one else in red. Sarkisian said on his radio show it is likely that Johnson will miss the game.

—- As for the coaches show, lots of talk about Chris Polk’s big day and Sarkisian noted that Polk also had two big blocks in protection that knocked Arizona players out of the game for a play or two. He also remembered recruiting Polk at USC and getting the word on a Friday in December that Polk was instead coming to UW. Said USC coaches got in a car to try to get out to Redlands to visit with Polk on what was the last day for contact in that recruiting period, but traffic was bad and they couldn’t get out there and turned around and came back after an hour after hearing that Polk had indeed committed to UW.

— Also lots of talk about the two controversial penalties in the game. Sarkisian noted that the way the crowd got into the game after the Michael Hartvigson play helped the Huskies. “To me, it was electric from that moment on and I thought it had an effect and energized our team,” he said. He said he thought the crowd helped confuse Arizona on each of its last two interceptions, which he each said were caused in part by Arizona misreading the defense and not being on the same page offensively.

— As for the Hartvigson play, he said: “The ruling is you have to complete the catch and if you are not in control of the ball as you fall to the ground, it is not a catch. I did not agree.” However, he said he appreciated that the officials explained that to him, saying “to the referee’s credit that night and all year they have done this, they did a good job of communicating what the call is and then you can at least move forward. I thought that was what was lacking in the past. I can still sit here and disagee with the call because he took three steps with the ball … there’s a disagreeance there but you have to accept it and move on.”

— He said he was “surprised” the call was not overturned on replay. “At that point I got a bit of a chuckle out of it, quite honestly, because what can you do?” But he said this time he didn’t want the team to get distracted by the calls the way he thought they did at Nebraska. “I wasn’t going to let that happen this time, let’s go get a first down and keep playing,” he said. He said he told Hartvigson: “Next time ‘dude, get two hands on it and don’t drop it.”’

— On the call on Nate Fellner, he said: “I was not the biggest fan of that call, either, because I don’t think Nate targeted above the head or speared with his head. The penalty is targeting a defenseless player — if you are going to throw seam routes and the safety is there, everybody is a defenseless player at some point, so there is some gray area there right now where the pendulum is swinging almost to too much safety, and I hate to say it that way, but we are almost having a hard time coaching it to our safeties. … I didn’t think he did anything overly hard to cause bodily harm to the receiver.”

— He said he thought the defense played well against Arizona, saying “they really held them to 24 points, we played pretty good defense compatively to what some other defenses had been doing against them.” He said the keys were holding them to 3-11 on third down and to one of four on red zone trips, getting just one touchdown on four tries into the red zone and three field goals while UW got six TDs on six red zone chances. Said that was the difference in the game.

— A caller asked why UW is not calling any more naked bootlegs and Sarkisian said he loves that play but hasn’t been able to call many sprintouts or naked bootlegs due to Keith Price’s knee and ankle injuries. Said as soon as Price gets better they will call more of those plays.

— There was some talk about the 91-yard interception return by Arizona’s Robert Golden and Sarkisian said “I almost pulled a Woody Hayes to go out there and make the tackle myself. What a bizarre play.” He said Johnson was attempting to tip the ball back to himself as he was bobbling the ball as he lost his footing and instead tipped it to Golden. Said he thought for a moment that it might not be UW’s night when that happened but he was proud of the way the Huskies came right back to score.

— Responding to a question later, there was more talk of the Hartvigson call and Sarkisian said one gray area was that it is not explicitly stated how many steps is necessary to take to be said to be in control of the ball. He said that’s an arbitrary part of the rule.

— He said he talked to the team about the 1991 team and much of what is being celebrated this weekend but said it will also be important to not get too distracted this week and the key to really enjoying Saturday is to practice well during the week and then play well against Oregon.

— There was talk about the last game in Husky Stadium before the renovation and he said a great memory is “the goose bumps just thinking about walking down the tunnel on game day and just walking down the tunnel and you can see the south deck stands packed and the feeling you get, there’s so much that goes on with this and it’s pretty special to be a part of it.” He also talked about his commute over 520 every day and being able to look at Husky Stadium each day and feel special to have the job he has.

— He said his favorite memory at Husky Stadium is the win over USC in 2009 but said the Arizona game in 2009 and Oregon State last year are also right up there. He said he thinks a mystique is returning to the stadium that when the game gets tight something special is going to happen and UW is going to make the play.

— He said the goal of the weekend is to “put our best foot forward” against Oregon this week something he said didn’t happen two weeks ago against Stanford. He said he likens it to the way that UW played well against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl last year compared to the first game against the Cornhuskers. He said UW has to play better on special teams than it has the last few years against Oregon and also convert more in the red zone.

— He said he thinks UW “is in a good frame of mind” entering the Oregon game and has learned some things from how it approached the Stanford game.



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