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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 9, 2011 at 8:11 PM

Wednesday practice notes and Sarkisian video

Sorry about the delay — I’m admittedly distracted following everything happening at Penn State.

And also just as thankful that all we have to worry about right now at Washington is a football game.

It was business as usual at UW Wednesday as they again practiced on the east field, with Husky Stadium in day three of its renovation.

Well, as usual as can be following a loss to Oregon.

UW coach Steve Sarkisian said after the game and again on Monday that the offensive line played far from its best game.

After Wednesday’s practice, he said they are ramping up the competition on the line, though he said it was too early to say if anything could change (the one most obvious would probably be Micah Hatchie getting time as he’s the only backup to see action other than garbage time this year).

“There’s a lot of competition there right now, and that’s a good thing,” he said. “Guys are wanting the opportunity to step in and play and show that they’re worthy of playing, guys that haven’t been playing. And I think some guys that have been in there, now they’re having to prove that they’re worthy of staying on the field.”

Asked the odds of any changes, he said: “I’ll know more after I take a look at the film tonight. I think that’s why you saw such a physical practice, because they’re fighting for spots. … All these guys need to play better and they know it. Senio (Kelemte) on down, they all need to play better.”

In terms of other personnel news. …

— WR James Johnson was basically rested today after working a lot on Tuesday as he tries to recover from a sprained ankle. Sarkisian indicated it may be a gametime decision until they know whether and how much he could play against USC.

— DT Alameda Ta’amu is wearing a wrap to protect a sprained thumb, Sarkisian said.

— S James Sample remains in red with a shoulder injury, the only player in red today. But Sarkisian said the hope is still that he can play this year — he’s played in three games and the school would have to go through the process of getting a medical redshirt to gain his year back. Said Sarkisian of Sample: “It’s been painful and frustrating for everybody but his shoulder is just not getting right. We’d love to get him back on the field and if we can’t we are going to have to investigate some things if he can possibly earn a medical redshirt because of that. But that’s down the road. He’s still working to get back, he’s doing everything in his power to get back out there and it’s been frustrating for everybody involved because he’s a real talented kid. … he’s a big, physical kid and we are doing a lot more with him at corner, we are working him at corner because of the physical nature of the receivers that we are seeing. I think he’s got a real chance to be real special.”

— Sarkisian also said again that he expects that RB Johri Fogerson will get a medical redshirt after suffering a season-ending knee injury.

— Sarkisian also said they may try to get Bishop Sankey and Jesse Callier involved more this week: “(Running backs coach) Joel (Thomas) and I were talking about that today. We love Chris to death, obviously he has done so much for us and he’s a fantastic player. But it will actually be better served for Chris if we can mix Jesse (Callier) and Bishop in there a bit more so that Chris is fresh when we are going into the second half or the fourth quarter of these games that are tight ball games. Not that I want to take carries away from Chris Polk but I do think it would serve us well to get those other guys some carries and it would serve the other kids well. They’ve earned it. They have worked hard.”

You can see some of Sarkisian’s meeting with the media in the video below, and there are more transcribed quotes after the jump:

[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”1267166148001″][/do]

Here are a few more of Sarkisian’s comments today:

On the possibility of rain for Saturday’s game: “I’d like to think that we know how to play in the weather. One of the keys, especially early in the game and in pre-game warmups, is understanding the footing for our guys. It’s a natural grass field, and something we’re not exposed to as much as probably would like to….the footing in pre-game, to understand that and making full-speed cuts. And ultimately there’s going to be a lot of pressure on our ball boys to keep the balls dry.”

On the progression of Kasen Williams: “I think he’s just playing faster now. There’s so much less hesitation to his game. His ability to line up, know the call and play fast and play physical obviously was evident the other night. We know the natural ability that he has. He’s one of the better catchers I’ve been around – just a sure-handed, strong catching guys. And then his stature, weighing 215 pounds, his ability to use his body to separate from defenders…and he’s highly competitive. It’s taken time, like it does for some freshmen – it’s taken longer to get comfortable, to get comfortable one, in the game setting, and then two with the calls that come in and go out and execute them really fast and physical and furious.”

On limiting Williams’ role to just one receiver position: “That’s exactly what we’ve done. We’ve tried not to move him around too much and let him get good at one position. He’s got time here, and we’ve got time in this system and we can get him the ball at that position in many different ways. I think in time, as his career moves on, we’ll see him move around that much more. But for now I think it’s the right thing to do with him.”

On if increased time at receiver means less time returning punts for Williams: “No, I don’t think so. The returns he gets…and so much now with what guys are doing, and we’re going to get it again this weekend with the shield punt, they get so many guys down covering and not deep, long punts – the opportunities for returns aren’t there right now. And it’s not just us; it’s universal. You look at the Pac-12 stats, there’s just not a lot of punt returns going on. It’s one of the trends in football, I guess.”

On getting Austin Seferian-Jenkins more involved: “There’s games where we try to get him the ball more than others. Sometimes it doesn’t appear like we’re trying to get him the ball, when we really are, when he is a primary and the ball’s just not going his way – for a variety of reasons. It could be coverage, it could be pressure on the quarterback, it could be he didn’t run a great route. So I think a lot of things could add up to where the ball goes. Obviously, Austin’s a very talented kid, and he’s still working to find the consistency of playing at a high level, down after down after down. But without a doubt, we’re trying to get him the ball. He just had a game last week where he only caught one ball. And it was obviously very early in the game.”

On the OL needing to communicate: “There’s constant communication up front, every snap there is constant communication. It starts with the quarterback identifying the mike (middle linebacker), the center making his calls and works its way out to the tackles, to the tight ends and sometimes those tackles and tight ends have to make calls that have to be echoed all the way back down across the line to the opposite side. And that’s no different than any other game and we just have to be more consistent in that category.”

On James Johnson: “We rested him more today. He looked decent yesterday, we tried to rest him today and then we will see how he looks tomorrow and then give him Friday off and have a better feeling.”

On the freshmen and the benefit of playing this season: “It’s huge for them. Even spring football practice when you have been in the real live setting game atmosphere, your ability to settle down, the anxieties are much less and you can focus on the things you need to focus on and not so much the peripheral stuff. Those things are going to help him. They will help Danny Shelton. His role is starting to improve and be more involved. I thought he did some nice things last week and so of our young guys that are playing I think they are really benefitting from that fact and they will down the road.”

On Price being helped by having played last year at USC: “Sure, I think it helps. You’ve got to remember he’s an LA kid and I’m sure he will have a bunch of family and friends there and the fact it won’t be the first time he’s stepped on that field. He played two plays and threw two passes and threw both of them pretty well. The other one I think should have been caught too on the two-point play, so I think that does ease some things. He’s been down that tunnel before and what not.”

On having a little extra hop in his step when playing USC: “Yeah, I think for a variety of reasons. It’s home for me…lot of family and friends. And obviously some real special memories in that stadium and some great wins. It’s always exciting to go down and play in the Coliseum.”

On his relationship with Lane Kiffin during the game: “That really ends probably at about pre-game warmups, quite honestly. I don’t think we talked to each other last year in pre-game warmups, and I really make it a point to talk to everybody. And it wasn’t on purpose. We just didn’t talk last year in pre-game, and then we talked at halftime, walking up the tunnel after doing our interviews. We’re good friends, but at the end of the day we’re both really competitive guys, and we want to win.”

On Matt Barkley, and how he’s different from a year ago: “He’s just continued to mature, all three years now. I think he’s minimizing his mistakes, and obviously his red-zone efficiency is getting better. And how he has played in the fourth quarter has really improved. I think that’s why they are winning these close ball games at the end that they hadn’t been winning these last couple years.”

On USC being the best passing team UW has seen all year: “It’s a great challenge. We’ve seen some pretty good ones, especially early on with what Hawaii does and they are still doing to everybody, what Arizona has been doing with Nick Foles. But I think the efficiency of what Matt does with Robert Woods and Marquise Lee is what makes the challenge. There’s no secret where the ball is going; combined I think they have 135 catches. It’s not a real secret that 2 and 9 are going to catch the ball, so you need to understand where they are at every snap. Lane does a good job of moving them around; they line ’em up in the backfield, they line ’em up on opposite sides, they line ’em up together…so you better identify where those two kids are.”

On USC’s defense this year: “Well, I really think they’ve improved from last year to this year, quite honestly. They’re playing better, and as the year’s gone on they’re playing better defensively. I know that the Stanford score is a bit skewed because of the overtime. You go to three overtimes, it’s a little bit of a skewed number. But also the offenses in this conference and the way the game’s being played right now. We’re seeing a lot of high-scoring games; that’s just the nature of the game right now.”

On Nick Holt’s quote being used as motivation: “I don’t know. I haven’t talked to anybody down there. But again, I think it was one, taken out of context; that wasn’t the form of the question. And two, ask Monte Kiffin, he’ll give you the same answer. Oregon’s tough to prepare for. It’s no so much the scheme; it’s how they play and the speed at which they play the game. And that is what is so unique. It’s not that your own team cannot play that way, it’s that when you’re trying to service the defense, and you’re trying to show the plays, to simulate that speed is what’s challenging. And give Oregon credit. They’ve figured that aspect of the game out, and they’ve made it difficult. That’s no disrespect to USC; they’re a tremendous offensive football team. But they’re much more conventional that way in a preparation standpoint.”
What o-line did well earlier in season: “I thought we were playing together really well. I thought we were on the same page. Even if we were wrong, we were all doing it together. I think that’s where some of the disappointment, for me, came last week. I didn’t think we were playing together. I felt like there was either a lack of communication or communication that was wrong, and some guys didn’t want to hear that communication, and we got separated. And that’s where we were getting beat at times. I would like for us to come back, one, and play together, and do things together. And then when we’re doing that, then we can come together and play fast, physical football. I think as the lack of communication occurred early in the game last Saturday, that created some hesitation for our guys up front, and then ultimately, we got beat in one-on-one matchups up front because we weren’t physical enough.”



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