If you read through some of the quotes from UW coach Steve Sarkisian’s press conference today, you know he talked a lot about what he felt was the positive impact of some of the team’s tackling and full-contact drills in practice was on the win over Stanford.
I wrote this story for the Tuesday paper based on some of the comments of Sarkisian and a few of the players. As sometimes happens, a little bit got cut out due to space reasons and I thought I would pass along some of that here.
As noted in the story, Sarkisian said the team has probably suffered a few more bumps and bruises due to being more physical in practice but thinks the payoff is worth it. UW defensive tackle Danny Shelton agreed.
“We all know that it’s a risk to be going all out and tackling each other, but that’s the only way we are going to get better,” Shelton said. “I feel that the coaches are smart with it.”
The team’s needs to improve in every area of its defense after the 2011 season were obvious — the Huskies allowed a school record 467 points last year.
But Sarkisian also said he felt his team was ready for more physical practices now that he is four years into his program and the team has better depth to withstand a few practice injuries.
Players say the practice has paid off but that they think there are other reasons the tackling is better, as well.
“I feel that the big change for us is really having our whole defense actually swarm to the ball and making sure we execute the tackle and take them down and push the pile back,” Shelton said.
Linebacker Thomas Tutogi agreed, saying UW has been emphasizing “population to the ball,” meaning everyone on the team running to the ball carrier (such as happened when the Huskies stopped Stanford’s Ryan Hewitt for no gain on a key third down early in the game, a play pictured above in a Dean Rutz photo).
“Practices always help,” Tutogi said. “But I think it’s more of a mentality of wanting to win and wanting to get this guy down. That’s all it is.”
IN OTHER NEWS. …
— UW is now entering the heart of its season, with eight games over the next eight weeks — six on Saturdays and two on Fridays. That means the team is in a regular gameweek schedule most of the time going forward, and that means morning practices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. As such, I will likely do a few more nighttime links entries like this and then lighter in the morning when I have to head up to UW (traffic is in full gameweek mode, as well, unfortunately).
— Bud Withers rates the Pac-12 and has UW at No. 3, noting that the Huskies are allowing just 15 first downs per game, fewest in the conference.
— Here’s a Q-and-A I did with The Oregonian previewing this week’s game.
— GoHuskies.com reports from today’s news conference.
— Sarkisian turned down Jim Moore’s on-air request to watch the WSU-Oregon game with him on Saturday. Maybe that’s because Moore remains skeptical about the Huskies.
— Here’s the AP story setting up the UW-Oregon game
— The Eugene Register-Guard sets the stage for the UW-Oregon game with a look at a bunch of statistical comparisons.
— The Oregonian says Oregon’s run game is steadily improving.
— Jake Locker’s shoulder injury isn’t serious but he may miss this week’s game for the Titans.
— ESPN.com’s Ted Miller ranks UW third in the Pac-12 this week.
— The ESPN.com Pac-12 blog also takes a look at this weekend’s games, unveils its Top 25 rankings (both of which include UW), gives an early preview of the UW-Oregon game, gives some of David Shaw’s thoughts about what happened to Josh Nunes against UW, and reviews the first month of the season.
— Jon Wilner grades Stanford’s week (a C-minus) and says the Cardinal was also flat-out outcoached against UW.
— Paul Buker of The Oregonian rates UW fifth in the Pac-12.
— The Cal student paper isn’t happy with the performance of the football team.
— The Wall Street Journal with a fun item calculating how far every Pac-12 school is from an In-N-Out.
— CBSSports.com reacts to the various national ratings for Pac-12 teams.
— Lane Kiffin says USC needs to recruit better.