Here we go with the transcript and video of Steve Sarkisian’s weekly press conference.
Opening comment: “On a quick injury update before we get into a review of the game – it’s confirmed last week that Hauoli Jamora re-injured his ACL on his knee, so he’ll be out the remainder of the season. Jesse Callier also injured his ACL so he’ll be out the remainder of the season, and Ben Riva is seeing a specialist this afternoon, so we’ll have more of an update exactly on him tomorrow. It looks like it’ll be…obviously it’s a broken bone so pretty significant time with him.
“In a review of the San Diego State game, to touch on that – you go back and look at the game and we really missed some opportunities to put the game away in a sense. I thought we almost lacked that killer instinct that was needed that night. We had some opportunities in the fringe and in the red zone and we pride ourselves on being very efficient and scoring touchdowns when we’re down there and we didn’t capitalize. Obviously we had one opportunity and we took a sack on third down that knocks us back and a delay of game we don’t even get to kick a field goal so we punt. We have another opportunity and we fumble inside the 5-yard line. We had another opportunity when we get down there and we settle for a field goal and missed the field goal. A potential of 21 points we left on the board in that ball game that I think could have changed the complexion of that game and really swung it even more in our favor when we had opportunities to do that.
“On a positive note I would say it’s encouraging…we talk about the football so much so it was encouraging to win the turnover battle. You win the turnover battle 3-1 and you find a way to win ball games. That’s the history of football and it happened again. On film, pleased with how hard our defense played. They showed the aggressiveness that it felt like on the field; it showed up on the tape. Obviously there’s some things from alignment and assignment to get cleaned up there. I know we can tackle better than that and it’ll be a point of emphasis for us this week. We realized they had 90 yards of offense after initial contact, which we can improve on definitely. I think the guy that calls the plays on offense could have a better game, honestly.
“I think we got a bit frustrated not scoring in those opportunities that we had and got a little out of sorts – myself included – and I think that carried itself to Keith and a bit to our offensive unit. Throughout the year we’re going to get faced with adversity. Guys are going to go down with injuries like what happened to us the other night – whether it’s Jesse or Ben Riva – those things can’t affect us. We have to continue to execute. We have to do the things we do and practice with numerous guys doing what they do and not just one guy at one spot.
“All being said there were some real positives there but there were some things that need to be fixed and we’re going to have to do it quickly. We’re heading down to LSU Saturday night…great environment for college football, it should be a tremendous setting. I can’t tell you the amount respect we have for their program and coach Miles. They are an excellent and tremendous team, a special teams football team in the return game and covering kicks. Obviously the defense almost speaks for itself and the playmaking ability they have there. The power running game, that they kind of lean on you and wear on your over time and create big runs and play action pass and big plays there and utilizing getting the ball to their playmakers.
“It’ll be key for us to get acclimated as best we can while we’re here in Seattle and then when we get down to Baton Rouge, and that will obviously be through crowd noise and simulating that, our ability to hydrate our players and to get them prepared for all of the things that come with the setting with playing at Tiger Stadium.
“This isn’t new to us. There’s a proud history and tradition here at the University of Washington of going and playing in games like this, and we’ll embrace this one just like we have all the other ones for decades. It should be a fun week for us and a fun ball game on Saturday.”
More after the jump. …
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On comparing the program now to where it was when UW played LSU in Sarkisian’s first game in 2009: “Hopefully we look a little better in pregame warmups. I was a little kind of looking at their side and looking at our side and it didn’t feel like this was a great matchup in pregame warmups. I thought our kids played hard that first time around. They are a very good football team. Don’t get me wrong. These guys they’re well coached. Sometimes you say they’ve got all these great players. They’re well coached, they have a head coach who is willing to take risks, take chances, he’ll fake punts, he’ll run reverses on fourth-and-1. So they’re a well coached team, they’re very talented. So difference wise, not much. Our schemes haven’t changed much, their schemes haven’t changed much. The venue will be different but outside of that there is going to be a lot of purple and gold in the stands and on the field.”
On which defensive players graded out well Saturday: “I thought Desmond Trufant had an excellent football game. Sometimes as a DB you’re only looking at the passes he covered, but I thought he tackled really well in the run game, really showed up from the tackling standpoint. I thought Travis Feeney had a nice ball game for us, showed the things we were hopeful to see, his closing speed to get to the ball, saw it on the sack fumble, saw it on the third or fourth down scramble of the quarterback, that showed up. I thought Talia Crichton played with really good effort on the defensive side of the ball and that definitely showed up all night it was there, but it showed up on the fumble return for the touchdown. I know (John) Timu is stripping the ball but Talia is the one that jars the ball loose on the hit and he came from across the field to make that happen. And then other guys I thought flashed. Tre Watson with the interception we know. Shaq (Thompson) had some plays, Sean Parker had some plays but all of those guys had plays they would want to have back too. Hopefully we can get a little bit more consistently doing things right. It wasn’t for lack fo effort. We’re close. We just have to clean some stuff up.”
On what he learned Saturday: “What I thought was pretty cool is, winning is winning and that is ultimately why we do what we do, is to walk out of the locker room with a W. And at the end of week 1 half of the teams in the country are 0-1 and we’re on the good side right now. But I felt like our guys walked out of there with kind of a bad taste in their mouths. They know that game could have went a lot better for us had we taken advantage of a few more opportunities and done a few more things correctly and that carried right over to today to our team meeting. This is a hungry group they want to get things fixed, they want to put their best foot forward Saturday night and I thought that was something I learned. I think in the past we may have been happy as all get out that we won. I’ve given these guys this quote before and I heard it on a Sunday watching a Lakers game and Andrew Bynum was down court cherry-picking and didn’t’ get back on D and the ball gets thrown down to him and he gets a dunk and Jeff Van Gundy is calling the game and says ‘to any young coach out there, don’t condone in victory what you wouldn’t in defeat.’ And I think that our guys are understanding that message. We’re happy that we won but there are things that need to be corrected for us to continually get better.”
On overcoming the loss of Callier: “Obviously we’re going to find out more about Bishop Sankey in a hurry. He got quite a few carries the other night and he responded well. I wish would have blocked a little better for him I think in turn I wish he would have shown a little more patience running the ball but I think that will come in time getting the experience there. Erich Wilson’s obviously going to get more touches for us. Dezden Petty will get more touches. Willis Wilson will have a role on this team. We’ll have some guys that will be role players that’ll do some things in the backfield for us that are maybe hybrids at other positions that can do some things back there. Not as full time backs but in some spot duty and special situations.”
On if Sankey can handle the carries: “I think he can do it without a doubt. Physically he was fine. I think he had 22 carries on the night. I think it was a really good learning experience for him putting the ball on the ground there inside the five. Late in the third quarter he’ll respond better to that next time. I thought he ran a little bit conservative after the fumble. Its hard to be a running back and run conservative when you’re not a big thumper. He has to run with his style and he has to continually emphasize keeping the ball high and tight. The kid from San Diego State did a nice job stripping the ball. I don’t want to take bishops stinger from him because he has big play potential but his big play potential won’t be there if he doesn’t run with the initiative to run with that stuff.”
On what they will do with the offensive line with Riva out: “We’ll have James Atoe go in at right guard and we’ll look at (Erik) Kohler and (Mike) Criste at right tackle. This obviously bodes itself for some opportunities for (Shane) Brostek at the right guard spot as well. Down there in the weather we’re gonna get we’re gonna need some extra bodies in this ball game. I don’t think we can go in there thinking just five guys we’re gonna need some guys rotating in so we’ll be prepared for that.”
On how the O-line played against SDSU: “Not bad. One common thing we’re finding out in first games is we’re a little high in week one. We try to do as much live as we can in training camp but yet take care of our guys. Our pad level needs to get better. That’ll be emphasized for us this week. I felt San Diego State threw as many looks at our guys as you could just about throw at them. For the most part we handled them pretty well. We had one glaring protection break down on the sack there in the redzone that was a miscommunication between center and quarterback and tailback that we were hopeful wouldn’t happen but they got us. But they threw a lot of stuff at our guys. They threw a lot of stuff at the quarterback, at me, at the O-line. The end result you can play a little tentative when you’re getting so many looks. But we’ll be better. Sometimes the O-line gets the brunt of the criticism. Where we weren’t very good was at the second tight end or the full back spot and that goes hand in hand with the O-line and the tight end and it all coming together to make all that happen so there’s some areas that need to be improved.”
On the preponderance of knee injuries and if it’s a concern: “I don’t know. We’ve exhausted ourselves on every study – from shoes, to the type of body type that’s getting injured, to quad and hamstring strength, to surface, to the type of plays, to when they occur in practice and games. It doesn’t take much. I think the one study shows it take 7 pounds of pressure or something to tear an ACL – so that’s not much. They’re non-contact injuries. Jesse is running and he thinks about making a cut, and his knee moves maybe this much and that happens. We’re going to try and do a study on the percentage of players on rosters around the country of what they have. I know that on our current roster today we have nine players that have had an ACL injury out of our 100 or so. Some of those occurred prior to them even coming on our football team – John Timu, Ryan McDaniel, Will Shamburger did theirs in high school. I don’t know if its guys are getting bigger faster and stronger, the surfaces are changing, I don’t know if its cleats. There’s a lot that goes into it. I know we are looking into it, because you don’t want to happen to them in such a violent game that had zero contact on it.”
On how the true frosh graded out: “Whew. I thought Jaydon (Mickens) – I was first and foremost pleased he caught the ball. One of the keys when you put a young guy back there is catching punts and catching kickoffs and he did a nice job of that. Both of his catches were on third down that were conversations for first down, which was pleasing to us that he can make the catch in critical moments. I think we’ll only see him get more and more involved in the offense. Kendyl (Taylor), the game plan wasn’t really suited for him to be a real playmaker. I think we’ll see more of him as we get going. Erich Wilson had a couple of nice runs. I thought it was good in there and he had a couple nice of runs and got in the secondary and showed the natural running skills he showed in camp.Shaq, I thought he played hard. You really notice when he finishes play well. When he decides to tackle someone, there is a noticeable explosion in the tackle and the way he finishes plays, which was encouraging. Pio Vatuvei, when he was in, did a nice job, did his job and sometimes that can be the most difficult things to do. I thought the long snapper, Ryan Masel, snapped the ball fine, did a nice job. I thought (Korey) Durkee – oddly enough, I don’t think I’ve ever punted that many times inside the 40 in a game since I’ve been here. We just had some odd fourth downs, fourth and longs in the fringe area. We were punting the ball, didn’t really allow Korey to strike it. He had to try and place some punts. Sometimes that’s not the easiest thing to do the first time you are going back to punt the ball. He really struck the ball well late when we punted and needed to get the ball out deep. All in all, nothing glaringly bad, nothing glaringly great. I think we’ll only see them get better as we move forward.
On not getting the one punt downed at the 2: “We had two guys. We didn’t execute. It was another kind of a glaring thing we’ve been practicing quite a bit on. It was (Greg) Ducre and (Anthony) Gobern, they were both there. It really was an easy play, you just turn and catch it. It was a nice punt by Korey. It was exactly what we were trying to get done. But the execution wasn’t there.”
On if Atoe will start: “That’s what will probably happen unless something changes here in the next couple of days.”
On how big of a task it is to block LSU’s defensive ends like Mingo and Montgomery: “That’s just two of the eight that we are going to see. There’s going to be eight guys rotating in there. I don’t want to say any of their names because I can’t remember all of them but I know their numbers. It’s 9 and 18 and 77 and 90 and 99 and 89 and 49 and so they are good. That’s no secret about that. We as a staff and from a gameplanning standpoint if I go empty backs and go seven-step drops all night long, we’ll have a tough night. That goes without saying. So we are going to have to do things continually to mix things up in the style of offense that we run. In the types of plays that we are running, in the tempo with which we do things. So we are going to have to continually mix things up. And I think that’s one of the beauties of this system that we have the capability of doing those things and we are just going to have to lean on that more than we have in some other ball games.”
On Keith Price taking the blame for the poor offense Saturday: “That’s what makes 17 special. He’s got a standard he holds himself too. I’ve seen him better than he was Saturday night and I will see him better than he was Saturday night. And that’s just what he expects of himself. There were probably a handful of plays that he would love to have back and there were some other plays that he made tremendous plays on that a year ago I don’t know that he could have made. The third down scramble in the fourth quarter to get us out of a backed-up situation. Some other times he used his legs to generate first downs on third downs and so I just think he’s set a standard for himself and that’s what he wants to play to every time out.”
On if they can redshirt Jamora and Callier: “Jesse I’m positive of that. Jamora, we were able to utilize that last year so this year is going to count. You get into at the end of his career applying for a sixth season and all of that. You have to kind of get through all of this before you can cross that bridge so we’ve got a lot to get through before we cross that bridge for Hau’oli.”
On if Jamora has talked about a sixth year with Sarkisian: “There’s so much more, we haven’t even got to that point. The guy just had surgery on Thursday and now starts the rehab process, the healing process. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. For now it’s getting him back healthy and getting him prepared for 2013.”
On if he’s heard from the Pac-12 about the sideline play: “I have not heard from the Pac-12 on that yet, no.”
On if there were any other injuries Saturday: “No, I think we are fine. Tru looks good. Everyone else came looking really healthy. Guys aren’t feeling as sore as we’ve been after some other games today.”
On if this is the type of scheduling he wants: “I think guys come to the University of Washington to play in these types of ball games. Do I want to play in these types of ball games, have three SEC schools as my three nonconference games? No. I think we have to be fair to our kids and are ultimate goal is to win a Pac-12 championship and put ourselves in position for a national championship. We’ve adopted an A-B-C-type scheduling model that I think we will continue to live by. But hopefully for our players and our fans we continue to really give them experiences of either bringing really big-time programs here to play us in Husky Stadium, or to go on the road and play in some of the great venues in the country that I know our fans will be excited to travel to and our players will be excited to play in.”