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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 22, 2011 at 11:54 AM

Coachspeak — Paul Wulff and Steve Sarkisian

Today marks the final Pac-12 coaches teleconference of the regular season, a weekly call designed to let reporters from around the conference (or the nation for that matter) ask questions.

The sessions for UW coach Steve Sarkisian and WSU coach Paul Wulff have passed, and here’s some of what they said:

— Wulff, asked by former Seattle radio host David Locke, who now works in Utah, who the best running back the Cougars have faced this year, said: “I think it’s going to be Chris Polk. We haven’t faced him yet but in my opinion he’s the best back.”

— Wulff also expressed some optimistim in how his team defended the run last week aginst Utah, which got 186 yards on 50 carries — 56 coming on one run when John White was stopped behind the line then spun out of a tackle. “They ran it 50 times and I thought we did a good job. We had one tackled a running back for a loss of one yard but he spun out of it and go 56 yards on one run. Outside of that I thought we did a good job.”

— Asked about Marshall Lobbestael returning to the starting QB job this week, he said: “He’s a veteran guy who has played a lot of football. We need him to come in there and execute our offense and I expect Marshall to play a good football game.’

— Asked if he thinks about the possibility that the game could be his last as WSU’s football coach, he said: “I don’t think like that. We’ve got a great, young football team, a good young team that is getting better and better all the time.”

— And asked to give an update on quarterback Connor Halliday, who has been in the hospital with a lacerated liver since the end of the Utah game, he said “he’s in a lot of pain but everything has stabalized in the last 24 hours.” He said at this point, “it should heal naturally” and the hope is he can get out of the hospital tomorrow. He said a complete recovery may take 2-4 months.

As for Sarkisian, here’s some of what he said:

— Asked the same question about best running back UW has faced, he said LaMichael James of Oregon. Asked about the defensive player who had the largest impact on a game this year against UW, he said “probably Nick Perry,” the defensive end for USC who had 2.5 sacks against the Huskies.

Cort Dennison who was cited as one of the top three defensive players in the conference by Oregon’s Chip Kelly when Kelly was asked a similar question — Kelly called Dennison a “tackling machine” — which caused a followup question to Sarkisian about Dennison. “I love everything that Cort brings,” Sarkisian said. “His mental and physical preparation has been just about unparalleled. He came in here a bit undersized and worked his way into a starting role and has played all three positions for us at linebacker, a real overachiever type. Really studies and prepares for the game and has been a real catalyst for the program that has allowed us to improve from year one to year two to year three. Just couldn’t be more proud of him.”

— Asked if he felt vindicated by the play of Matt Barkley the last two weeks since he made his comment that he’d take Barkley over Andrew Luck in the NFL Draft, he said he “wasn’t concerned about the perception of what my opinion is. I was asked a question and I answered it. I don’t feel vindicated by any means. I think the world of Matt Barkley. I think he’s a tremendous player.”

— He was also asked about Keith Price’s health and reiterated that Price would not have been able to play a full game last week so he wasn’t concerned about any controversy over how Price was used against Oregon State. He said Price will be able to go the entire game this week, that the swelling has gone down in his knee and that “the flexibility is back, which was a concern of ours, his ability to bend the knee and the thigh.” He said Price “had a nice practice” on Monday.

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