The Huskies are off the field following their Thursday practice, the first held with Nick Montana as an announced starter at quarterback.
As they were yesterday, Joe and Jennifer Montana were in attendance at the Dempsey Indoor to watch their son, who earlier in the day was named as the starter for Saturday’s game at Oregon State — news that was first learned when Steve Sarkisian Tweeted it around 2 p.m.
Sarkisian had said on Wednesday that he might not publicly announce a starter between Montana or Keith Price, who has not taken a snap in practice all week while dealing with a sprained left knee suffered at USC.
But after Thursday’s practice, Sarkisian said “it just felt right” to name a starter today.
“I loved how Nick had looked the last couple of days,” he said. “Keith’s not 100 percent, obviously you can tell.. I thought Keith looked much better today. He’s moving better. I think he’ll be abviabllie in emergency status on Saturdya. For our team it’s the right thing to do. For Keith it was the right thing to do. Nicky’s earned it, he’s done a nice job.”
Sarkisian said he arrived at the decision Wednesday night after watching the film of that day’s practice, and called Montana. He said the team was notified before he sent out his Tweet.
“It’s tough to put a kid in there that hasn’t practiced all week,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair to Keith. I don’t’ think its fair to our football team. Nick has shown the progress and the understanding of what we are trying to do in the game and has executed well. … For him, in those elements yesterday that we had outside, I thought he’d thrown the ball about as good as I’ve seen a guy throw it in those elements. I was just really impressed with what he did.”
Asked if the plan is for Price to return to the starter’s job next week, he said: “Yeah, that’s the idea. We just want to get healthy.”
He said making the decision early and public should help Montana prepare for the game
“I had a feeling last night after watching the film,” he said. “Let it settle in feeling. The confidence in knowing that we believe him and his team believes in him.”
Sarkisian said Montana showed again this week the progress he has displayed all season: “I think just ultimately the speed in which he’s playing. He’s gotten faster and faster and faster. It’s never been about his smarts. He’s a bright kid. Obviously he understands the system, and you get more of an understanding when you start to learn defenses. Those two things coming together, with his mechanics, have allowed him to play faster.”
You can watch some video of Sarkisian talking about the decision, with more notes and quotes after the jump:
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IN OTHER NEWS. …
— Sarkisian said he doesn’t think his naming of Montana will change OSU’s defensive philosophy. “I don’t think so. We’re not changing, and I doubt they’re changing. We’ve got our offense in place, and we can’t change it overnight; we’ll call the things accordingly. They’ve got a defense that they’ve been running for years now, that they know extremely well, and they’ll execute it.”
— He also said he’s not worried about how Montana will react on Saturday. “I’m sure he’s going to have a few nerves. All competitors do because you love the opportunity to go compete, but one play and you start playing.”
— Defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu had his right foot in a boot today after having practiced earlier in the game. Said Sarkisian: “It was actually from the game. We just wanted to rest it, quite honestly. He has rolled ankle and we just wanted to get the sweeling out of it. He’ll play. ”
— Sarkisian also said that James Johnson will play, though “I don’t how significant, how big it will be, but he will have a role.”
— He said the most questionable player is LB Garret Gilliland “from the stinger in the game is not looking great. I would put him doubtful for Saturday.”
— The team went indoors to practice, Sarkisian saying “I just really wanted to focus on the details of the game plan. We had two good days outside, the last two days. Today was about really fine tuning things and make sure we are on point.”
— Asked if he’s felt a sense of urgency from the team this week, he said: “I think we’re a little … on edge is the best way to say it. I’m glad it’s a 12:30 kickoff, that we can get up and go instead of sitting around waiting. Our guys want to perform. They want to go play. When you don’t perform well in a ball game you want the opportunity to get back up and do it again. They had to wait a week. So I think they are kind of chompin’ at the bit to get back out there. It will be key for us to come out with a lot of energy. We know Oregon State is going to come out with a lot of energy. Reser Stadium is always kind of a little bit of a hostile environment. So we’ve got to make sure that our energy is right. And we’ve got to start from the opening whistle. We’ve got to play.”
— Asked about the defensive challenge this week, he said: “I just think, regardless of who we’re playing, I think we’ve improved – I really do. We’ve got, obviously, a challenge in their ability to throw the football, Oregon State, with all four of those guys – the three wideouts and the tight end. We’ve got our work cut out for us on that aspect of it. But the key for us is we’ve always got to stop the run, initially. Hopefully, we can apply some pressure to the quarterback. But to do that, we’ve got to cover well down the field.”
— Expect the offensive line to look the same to begin the game. Sarkisian said of the line that “I thought they’ve gotten better. It was an intense week. Got a little chippy the last couple days in full pads. Their pride is a little bruised, and they want to come out and play well.”
— Asked why he decided to Tweet the news of the naming of Montana, he said: “I don’t know. Why not, I guess. The world we live in now, right? I don’t know. It’s kind of unique and gives perspective for our fans to see it from a different angle. You guys will still all write about it; that doesn’t change.”