Monday also meant the first Steve Sarkisian radio show of the fall. Given that it was in part a preview of the season, there was a lot of overlap with some of what he has said previously. So I’ve kept this recap to just a few highlights:
— Asked if entering year four, the program is on track, he said “it feels that way.” He said he of course would have liked to have won every game but that overall he feels the progress is on schedule. ” We had some bumps in the roads, and some bigger than others, and some tough losses. But that’s what shapes you, and I think as a program we have responded well to those. I feel great about this team.”
— Asked about the change in the defensive coaching staff last season, he reiterated it was a tough decision but one he felt had to be made. Asked if those decisions get easier with team, he said: “I don’t know if it’s ever going to get easier. I didn’t want to feel for myself and this program that getting to a bowl game was good enough. I think we can be special here and I think we are on track to doing that and you have to make some tough decisions along the way to get there and stay there at the time.”
— Asked about the tight ends, he reiterated something he has said in the past that “you will see more two tight-end sets this fall than any other season” since he has been here.
— Asked about differences in the defense this year from last season, he said “I think some of it will appear similar in a sense that you can only line up so many ways defensively. Hopefully we recognize a different style of play, one that is very aggressive, a defense that is flying around and playing fast and furious and can get to the quarterback.”
— He talked more about the defense when asked about the linebackers and said one thing to keep in mind when thinking about the size of the backers is the way the UW defense is configured this year. “We’ll be a bit different in that we are going to force the ball to the perimeter and allow the linebackers who can run to go get the ball,” he said. “The goal is to not allow the offensive linemen to get to the second line to get to our linebackers and let the linebackers make the plays.”
— He also said this defense will be a lot more versatile. “We’ll have more packages taking the field, we’ll have a bigger package taking the field … we’re going to have the versatility now to be willing to put different personnel groupings on the field to match up to the different offenses we are going to face.”
— He was asked about the offensive line and talked again about how the early injury to Erik Kohler scuttled plans to experiment with Drew Schaefer at tackle. But he said the ” the end result was we found out our two tackles are pretty good.” He also said that Ben Riva is getting pushed some by Mike Criste at right tackle and that James Atoe has had a very good camp. He also seemed to imply that every true frosh offensive linemen will redshirt this year.
— Asked about the running back spot, he said “we’ll be different” and that “Chris (Polk) almost relished the contact. Jesse (Callier) and Bishop (Sankey) are different backs. Not that they can’t take (contact) but they are looking to create the big plays. They are both better than adequate receivers out of the backfield and give us a lot of versatility.”