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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 2, 2011 at 6:47 PM

Wednesday practice notes and Sarkisian video

Just three days left now in Husky Stadium as we’ve known it for 91 years. And probably only fitting it’s turning cold, wet and nasty out given that’s how many may best remember it.

About halfway through today’s practice it began pouring like crazy, and it was windy enough that some of the folding chairs near us began to blow over. The forecast indicates it could be more of the same Saturday.

Otherwise, it was your typical Wednesday practice, roughly two hours, full pads, lots of work on Oregon’s offense and defense.

In a few personnel notes:

— UW coach Steve Sarkisian said receiver James Johnson is almost certainly out for Saturday’s game with the sprained ankle suffered against Arizona. “He is not looking great. That ankle sprain from the game isn’t quite bouncing back the way we’d like,” he said.

— With Johnson out, Kasen Williams will likely get more time. So it wasn’t the best sight for UW when he went down after a hard hit from Nate Fellner, then came up limping — Fellner earned another reprieve on the sidelines as a result. Williams had the ankle re-taped and went back on the field, and Sarkisian said “I think he’ll be okay. He got back out there.”

— Linebacker Jamaal Kearse was in red with an apparent shoulder injury, but Sarkisian said he’d be fine.

In a few other quotes from Sarkisian:

— He said Oregon tight end David Paulson is definitely a threat to watch. “It’s credit to (Oregon coach) Chip (Kelly) and their offensive staff. They’ve got a nice scheme where they can hit you with a variety of runs and then you are concerned about six (De’Anthony Thomas) in the passing game and him getting down the field and the next thing you know the tight end hurts you right in the middle of the field you get so spread out and he hurts you down the middle of the field so it’s the challenge of defending their scheme, one, and two, understanding the types of plays they like to call based on situations, where they are at on the field down and distances and what not.”

— Sarkisian said stopping Oregon’s run is goal number one: “They’ve been explosive in the run game. I think it starts there, they are a run team first. But right when you dedicate yourself to completely stopping the run they throw the ball over your head whether it’s to the tight end or the slot receiver or the play action pass or the naked bootleg stuff, they do quite a bit of that especially in the red zone. So you’ve got to prepare for a balanced attack. But the key against them you need to stop the run, if you don’t they’ll keep running it. That’s what they like to do.”

— Asked about Oregon’s defensive success in the red zone, he said: “Well, I think they defend the field for 100 yards and we’ve been pretty good at it and they’ve been pretty good at it, ironically both offenses have been pretty good in the red zone. So I think it will be one of the keys to the ballgame Saturday night is the ability to get stops in the red zone and who has the ability to score touchdowns in the red zone.”

— Asked about Oregon’s QB situation, he said: “I think right now Bryan Bennett is a little bit of a better runner because (Darron) Thomas isn’t quite 100 percent healthy — doesn’t appear to be, at least. They are both adequate passers. I think Darron might have a little better feel because he’s been in their system and has been playing in it. They are not going to change. They are goinig to run their offense and we have to defend their offense more than who is going to be the quarterback.”

— Asked about preparing for Oregon’s propensity to go for two, he said: “Just try to stop it, If you stop it it’s a great win for you, you hold them to six points and that one point can become a factor later in the game. I don’t think you can put more credence into it than that. You make an attempt to stop it and try to coach to it. They’ve gotten us with a couple of times the last couple of years and it seems like they get just about everybody. It would be great to get a stop there and maybe use it as a momentum shift after a touchdown score.”

— Asked about the swinging gate play Oregon uses on those plays, he said: “I think the secret to it is you don’t know what formation you are going to get. They do a nice job of changing the formation up week to week and the plays off of it. I do know last week they did it and they exposed their punter (Jackson Rice) to a pretty good hit, so we’ll see how he responds to that (he’s been out with a right hip). So you expose some guys to some things by doing it that way but it has been an advantage to them for many, many years.”

— Asked about simply trying to kick it away from De’Anthony Thomas, he said: “I think you have to have some schemes and that could potentially be part of your schemes and you have to have some different things and understandings of what types of returns they are using and different things. Obviously last season they had great success in the return game against us and it made it a real point of emphasis for us heading into the off-season whether it’s in the punt coverage unit or the kick coverage unit to try to corral them. I thought that was a big factor in the game last year.”

— And asked about recruiting to defend teams that run offenses like Oregon’s, he said: “I think you have to in a sense, you have to be able to play in space in college football right now. So as we are moving forward we have to recruit that way because the majority of the teams we play are built this way, so you’d better be able to defend the spread and the zone read and the zone option and the triple option so we need to do that for sure and now we need to recruit some guys that can line up and defend against Stanford.”

You can see more from Sarkisian in the video below:

[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”1255457473001″][/do]

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