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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 14, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Coachspeak — Quotes from UW coach Steve Sarkisian

The news of today makes it worth recalling how UW coach Steve Sarkisian said often in the off-season that the Huskies would — at some point this year — need both quarterbacks to help them win.

That moment could come Saturday as Sarkisian said at his regular weekly press conference today that Nick Montana could get the start at quarterback pending the results of an MRI on Keith Price’s knee, as well as how he practices should he get cleared to play.

You can read all of what Sarkisian had to say at his press conference today in the quotes below:

Opening state: “To recap the last ballgame, a lot of the same thoughts that were true to me after the game, hold true today. Kind of disappointed in the execution side of it, but moreso than that was our inability to play the game with a real sense of purpose and attitude. Credit to USC, they played a real physical football game. They played with a purpose, and we were unable to match that on all fronts. I think it’s easy to say the offensive line didn’t get it done, but the reality of it is, we didn’t get it done as a team. And that’s how you get beat by good teams. There’s a portion of the game that I think really was where…you can point to where the game went astray, and it started offensively with the holding penalty in the red zone that knocks us out of a potential touchdown-scoring drive where we settle for three, to a third-and-20 pass interference penalty, to a fourth-down fake punt to a kickoff on the ensuing kickoff where we have a holding penalty that knocks us back, to a catch ruled no catch where we don’t go out and execute a quick snap to negate an instant replay, to a bad snap that causes a safety, to a poor punt after the safety to where they get great field position, they score another touchdown. Right there was, in my opinion, the ballgame. Part of this is, we talk a lot about being a resilient group; the reality of that talk has now got to become reality. We talk like that’s who we are, but now we have to respond. We haven’t responded in recent weeks. This is gut-check time; we’re going to find out if we’re a resilient group or not. It’s easy to say that we are – now we have to go out and prove it.”

On being resilient when things aren’t going well: “I think so. I would agree with that. It’s one thing to say you’re a young team, but we’re heading into game 11 now here. We’re not as young anymore. It doesn’t matter to me if you’re a true freshman or fifth-year senior; at some point we have to take the bull by the horns. We’ll talk to that today, and it’ll be a point of emphasis this week, because we can’t continue when things don’t go our way early in a ball game accept it. And in my opinion, we accepted it this past weekend, and that’s not OK.”

On part of the recent struggles just playing good teams: “I think that’s part of it. We’ve dealt with this stretch of the season before, unfortunately. Three of the last four weeks, we’ve played some really good football teams. I don’t want to not give them credit – they are good teams. Stanford, Oregon, SC – those are good teams. But I also know that we are better than that way we played. I’m sure part of that is, they are good and they can cause some mistakes on their end, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse. I’ve seen us play better against good teams, and I’ve seen us respond to adversity better against good teams – and we haven’t done that in three of the last four games. I thought we did it versus Arizona; we dug a hole versus Arizona, and we responded and fought through some of the adversity of that ball game. But from a consistency standpoint – and I go back to my first press conference with you guys talking to you about wanting to become a more consistent football team and the style in which we play and the mentality in which we approach each ball game – again has reared its ugly head. We haven’t been as consistent as I want, from week to week to week, from drive to drive to drive, from snap to snap to snap within games. And ultimately that’s my responsibility – and I’ll fix it.”

On his statement two weeks ago that the team was now playing with house money now that UW was bowl eligible: “I was hopeful, and the meaning behind that statement was that we could really relax and let it go and play free and fun and physical and play in the absence of fear, quite honestly…without the concerns, the what-if’s, the what if we don’t play, what could be the consequences? And obviously we…the message didn’t get across. It didn’t come across that way, because I think really we haven’t played with a real sense of purpose the past two weeks. We’ve been out-physicalled; our sense of urgency hasn’t been what I’ve been accustomed to. And we have to get back to that. As I touched on earlier – this is gut-check time to me. Shoot, we’re going to Reser Stadium, it’s Senior Night for Oregon State. They are going to be fired up. We’ve got to bring it. We’ve got to bring it – mentally, emotionally, and physically. We’ve got to bring it Saturday.”
On if the struggles of the offensive line are surprises him at this point in the season: “Yeah, it does. Yeah, it does. It does surprise me. We’ve got to rectify that. Whether it is schematically, the things we’re doing. Whether it’s from the personnel standpoint, whose doing it. Or, ultimately, it’s the play calls. I understand the game got away from us, we didn’t want it to go the way it did — Chris Polk having nine carries isn’t good enough to win in November. So not that Chris needs to go out and have 35 carries, but he needs more than nine touches, that’s for sure.”
On if he can tell early that the offense is struggling: “No, I mean, yeah, partially. I thought, quite honestly that’s why I held out late in the week to see how we would play, but I thought we had a pretty physical week of week — especially some specific guys. And it showed up. I thought Austin (Seferian-Jenkins) had his best week of practice — it showed up. I thought Cort (Dennison) really rebounded last week in practice — it showed up in the game. Senio (Kelemete), and he run blocked well. The goal is to get back to that collectively. And then you can try to create some of that attitude as the game goes on. The plan going into SC, it was no secret, we understood the defensive line for SC was really good so the goal was to get them running. Get the ball outside and get those guys running, get the game to where it was late in the third quarter into the fourth quarter of a tight ball game, and then start leaning on them and wearing on them with Chris. And unfortunately, we couldn’t get the game to go that way. We forced ourselves into a lot of third-and-long situations early in the game where they were able to pin their ears back and get after Keith and ultimately knocked him out of the game. And then with our mishaps on special teams and then obviously the safety the score of the game put it into a situation where we threw the ball more than we would have liked there. And they were able to continue to get after the quarterback.”
On if there is a chance Nick Montana will start if Keith Price isn’t healthy: “There’s a potential of that, yeah. He’s got some more tests to do today. I think we’ll have a much better understanding of that tomorrow of where he’s at. So we will prepare ourselves for Nick Montana to make his first start Saturday, and if things change then things change. But I think you have to prepare for that so that we don’t get caught off guard, you know, come late in the week and Keith is not able to play.”
Any other details of the injury?: “No. More further tests today. I will be able to answer more specifically tomorrow.”
On what needs to happen for Price to play if he is cleared:“I’ll monitor him and I need to see where he is at. He’s not going to practice today, I know that.”

On when Price was injured: “That last sack there, really after the sack in the pileup he got twisted up pretty good, so there is some swelling there. We don’t think it’s significant from a long-term standpoint but we want to make sure of that and then we need to monitor the swelling in the knee. It’s a lot more swollen than it has been, so we have to monitor that.”

On how the preparation changes for UW if Montana has to start: “I think regardless of if it’s Keith or Nick we have to make sure that we are putting our kids in the best position to be successful whether that’s in the pass game or the run game, we have to assure that we are giving our guys the best chance to come off the football, be aggressive, play physical, play with a purpose, and so schematically I don’t know how much of that will really, totally change. He’s been running our offense since the day he stepped on campus and has a great feel for it. And so that side of it I don’t think that it will change that greatly depending on which kid is in there. We are going to try to play to Nick’s strengths and I think there are some things there that we can do to allow him to play at a high level.”

On if he’s ever hit the wall as a playcaller: “Sure, that’s part of the season. That’s why this is a grind and a long haul and why this is a team effort. You don’t win games with one aspect of a team and you don’t lose games with one aspect of a team. This is a team effort and we are all in this together and hopefully those fun games are the games when all three aspects of phases of the game are clicking and playing well and those are the easy ones. It’s when one aspect of the game is struggling can another side pick it up to pick up some of the slack and we just haven’t found that formula yet. And so it’s going to take all of us. It’s going to take a concerted effort and all hands on deck this week. We’ve got to get right.”

On the defense improving: “I think we’ve improved defensively, quite honestly. The long run is disappointing because it shouldn’t have happened. But to go into the game and the field position that teams are getting against us the last two weeks against good offenses, they are going to score. You can’t give them the ball on the 50 or inside the 50, you can’t give up big kickoff returns, which has been disappointing because we have been a really good kick coverage team up until the last two weeks. So we are just trying to find a way to bring all three phases together and play a complete game.”

On the reasons for the inability to get the ball deep on offense: “It’s all of it. We’ve got to call better plays, too. I’ve got to find better plays.”

On Oregon State: “I think they’ve been unlucky at time and obviously last week the couple turnovers inside the 5-yard line against Cal. They play hard, the young quarterback is throwing the ball around the field and he’s got four really good targets with (Markus) Wheaton and (James) Rodgers and (Brandin) Cooks and the tight end (Joe) Halahuni. They are throwing it all around the field and their aggressive nature on defense hasn’t changed. Lance Mitchell is a heck of a player at safety, they’ve got a couple of young defensive ends that play extremely hard and (Jordan) Poyer in the return game is as dangerous as there is in our conference.”

On if there is any similiarity between this situation and the situation UW faced last year going into Oregon with Price making his first start?: “Yeah, I think there is a lot of familiarity. I think for Nick he’s been fortunate to get a little more playing time than Keith had going into that game. Nick has gotten better every opportunity he’s gone in he’s gotten better. I thought he did some nice things there late in the game against SC as he got into the flow of the game. To Nick’s credit I think the last month, the last three weeks really have been his best days of practice. He’s really gone out and practiced efficiently, he’s played fast, he’s been decisive in his decision making and maybe that’s a result of getting sacked you’re first play and realizing how fast this game really is and you have to speed up. From that moment on he’s really improved and I’ve been proud of him and he did a nice job Saturday against SC and if he has to play Saturday against Oregon State I would expect him to play well.”

On if he could imagine Price being injured as much as he has this year: “This is a physical sport and when you play good teams and you fall behind I can imagine that, because that’s how you get beat. You fall behind against good teams, good defenses and they know you’re throwing the ball they can pin their ears back and get after the quarterback. That’s happened two weeks in a row on us and ultimately those hits pile up on you. Our ability early in football games to control the game has to improve to eliminate the hits on the quarterback.”
On what is leading to the QB issues the last few weeks: “I think it’s all of us. I don’t think it’s just Keith. I don’t think we’ve played very good as an offensive group and that all comes together. When you’re running the ball well and you can utilize the playaction pass game that helps your quarterback. When you put yourselves in third and shorts to third and mediums that helps your quarterback, you can get rid of the ball quicker. When you fall behind in games and then you put yourselves in third and longs that’s not a formula for success. Sometimes you can convert those, but against good teams when four of your first five third downs are third-and-10 plus or third-and-11 plus that’s not a good formula for success.”
More on Price and what would be needed to see for him to play Saturday: “I’ll monitor him. I need to monitor him. I need to see where he’s at. He’s not going to practice today, I know that.”
On recruiting OSU defensive end Scott Crichton of Foss: “We evaluated him. It’s just one of the tough decisions you have to make. We decided not to go on him, and he’s gone to Oregon State, and he’s played really good football for him. We missed.”
On if there are any other injuries:Garret Gilliland had a pretty good stinger again. It’s been lingering here for some weeks, so that one it probably the next most concerning. And then to see where James Johnson is at, how far he can come back this week to where he was. He just didn’t look good enough in pre-game to go.
On the missed tackles against USC: “Generally, missed tackles have a tendency to show up when you’re trying to tackle good players, first of all. Marqise Lee and not that Robert Woods had a bunch of opportunities, and Curtis McNeal and (Randall) Telfer and those guys, they’re good players. So those numbers have a tendency to go up. But I thought our fundamentals got lost. There were a couple glaring missed tackles that that’s not the technique we use to tackle with. So we’ve got to get that fixed as well.”

On Price taking the blame for the sacks: “That’s Keith being a great leader and being a team player and being a guy that has learned from one of the best in Jake Locker in how to assume blame and the responsibility. I don’t know that necessarily that’s true.”

On if James Johnson’s absence has impacted the effectiveness of the bubble screens: “It has an affect. James has an impact on the perimeter. He’s physical guy. He’s fearless. He doesn’t mind taking on linebackers and safeties. There is a factor.”

On the comfort level if Montana has to start: “I feel good. I felt like as the game settled in last week,, there was a couple third downs he would love to back, where SC did a good job mixing their coverages on him. They knew we had a young quarterback in there. He knew it right after. It’s just the reaction time. As the game moved forward, his comfort level set in. And he played a lot faster, he threw the ball accurately. I feel great about Nick Montana because I have some experience with him now. I understand what his demeanor is like on gameday more so than the beginning of the season.”

On who the No. 3 QB would be: “We have a few guys.”

On what makes Jacquizz and James Rodgers unique: “They’re unique. Jacquizz is a great player obviously. James is getting better and better as the year goes on with his health. Its just like Curtis McNeal last week against SC. That stature of back is very different. You get a kid that’s not as tall, that’s short and compact and you think he’s not a big guy and he’s not every powerful. But they’re so compact and they have so much leg strength – you saw that with Curtis McNeal last week – the ability to break tackles because they are so low to the ground, and they spin off of tacklers and keep their feet going. It’s what makes them unique. Their abil;ity to catch the ball out of the back field, the versatility, the quick cutting nature. They are unique. You don’t see that week in and week out. So when you do, the preparation for them is difficult, especially from the running back. How do you prepare for that type of a back? That’s what makes them unique. So when they are good players and they are tough and tough-minded players like the Rodgers brothers are, that’s what make them special.”

On if there are any specific personnel changes that could be coming on the offensive line: “It’s all of it. It starts in the center and goes out. We have to fix it.”

On if any of the young OLs has shown anything of late: “I think Micah Hatchie is improved, I really do. He got in the game. And sometimes when you are an O linemen and you get into the game, the speed of the game – it takes a minute to get caught up to. After the first couple of plays, I thought Micah did some really nice things for us. I go back and look at the film, and I don’t think Erik Kohler was all that bad We just wanted to give Micah some experience to get into a game and into that environement. There will be some competition this week and there needs to be. We need to be accountable for the way we played.”

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