Here are a few notes from UW coach Steve Sarkisian’s weekly radio show. …
— In the most significant news, when asked about injuries, and if there is any new news about who is out and who may be back, Sarkisian repeated what he’d said earlier in the day about Colin Tanigawa being out for the year. He then said that linebackers Nate Fellner and Jamaal Kearse are expected back for the Stanford game and that WR Kevin Smith may also be back.
Fellner has been out with a broken bone in his foot suffered early in camp and Kearse has been out with a stress fracture suffered during camp. Smith has been battling a knee injury. Fellner and Kearse are not listed on the depth chart for the Stanford game. Smith was listed as a co-starter at one receiver spot along with Jaydon Mickens.
— In talking about Tanigawa’s absence and the youngish line now in place, Sarkisian said he was “really pleased with Dexter Charles” in the Portland State game. He said of Charles that he “is a nasty guy and plays it physically the way you like to see it played.” He said of Shane Brostek that he was “not bad” against PSU and has “a bright future ahead of him” and that he also liked what he saw of James Atoe and also mentioned potentially using Atoe more at tackle as they attempt to mix and match the personnel up front to create the best line. He said UW is entering the Stanford game with just seven linemen who have played before and that “we have to be prepared to mix and match because until it starts swinging in our favor (injuries) we have to have contingency plans.”
— Sarkisian said of Stanford that the Cardinal’s strength has shifted a little this year to its defensive front, saying Stanford has one of the best front sevens in the Pac-12. He also said that he thought USC had some chances early to make it a two-score game and create some separation but couldn’t do it and Stanford got some momentum as the game wore on and was able to come back.
— Asked about the way Stanford has beaten UW the last three years and whether the Cardinal is in UW’s collective head, he reiterated a theme of this week that “from our program’s standpoint it’s never been and never really will be about who we are playing.” He said, though, he thought that might have been an issue last year when UW went into the game ranked with a 5-1 record and the game was billed as one of the biggest UW had played in a while. “I like to think going into this one with the new (defensive) coaching staff and with a team that plays and practices with more of an edge to themselves than we’ve ever had in the past, (that) it’s not about what happened before but about what the gameplan is offensively and defensively. I like the approach that we have going into it so I don’t really feel the affects of last year. I don’t feel it from a psyche standpoint at all.”
— Sarkisian said the Pac-12 result of the weekend that stood out the most to him was Arizona State’s 37-7 win over Utah. He said he thinks Coach Todd Graham “has got it going there” and was impressed the way the ASU offense moved the ball on what he thought was a good Utah defense.
— He also said he was impressed by Oregon State’s win over UCLA and noted that one of the things that he has liked about OSU coach Mike Riley is the way he didn’t panic in the face of losing seasons the last two years. He said Riley stuck with his program and then when a few guys got experience and healthy the team got better.
— He said two of the biggest keys against Stanford will be establishing the running game and protecting Keith Price and that “utilizing the play-action pass is going to be key for us in protecting Keith.”
— Asked about taking chances, he said the key is to know “when to be aggressive and when to back off the throttle and being an efficient offense spreading the ball around and getting first downs.”
— Asked to assess the team to this point, he said he was very pleased with the special teams, calling them the best UW has had in his time here, and noted the change to the “shield” style of punting that he said has helped with that aspect of the game. Offensively, he said he liked what Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Kasen Williams and Drew Schaefer have done and that on defense that “I love what we are able to do in the pass game from a coverage standpoint. We are doing well and will only get better at that.”
— In answering the same question about where to improve the team, he reiterated what he has said in the past about improving the pass rush and said “we have addressed some things schematically and from a personnel standpoint to help that.” Offensively, he said where UW most needs to improve is gaining more yards on first down to avoid long second and third downs.
— He also praised the manner in which this team has approached the season saying “their seriousness is really impressive to me. This team is unique in that they take in the information and apply it,”
— Asked if there was anything to take from the loss at LSU to apply to this game, he said he thinks the defense will play better. “I expect to see a really physical defense Thursday night to allow us to get after the football and put Stanford in some second and third and longs to allow our pass rushers to get to the quarterback, If we are able to do that we are in a scenario to win some of those and put our offense back on the field in good field position.”
— He also said a key will be to take advantage of opportunities better then at LSU when the Huskies got the early fumble but could turn it into only three points which he said “gave them a lot of momentum., We are going to get some chances, we have to go make some plays.”