What is often UW coach Steve Sarkisian’s last words prior to each game come on his weekly appearance on the Dave “Softy” Mahler show on KJR-AM, the school’s flagship station.
No real news revelations, but here are some highlights:
— Asked if he was surprised at how physical UW played against Stanford, he said: “I don’t know if surprised is the best word. We’ve made it a real point to be a real physical football team and that goes back to training camp. Had real physical training camp and have continued that trend … wish could go back to that LSU game because I don’t think we played as physical as we are capable of, quite honestly. … I was pleasantly pleased. I don’t know if I was surprised, though.”
— In further talk about the Stanford win, Sarkisian said he felt there was “plenty of room for improvement. I don’t know if we played a great game necessarily. Defensively we were really sound but we blew (some coverages). So there’s plenty of stuff to work on on defense, On offense, our perimeter players, especially at the tight end spot, can definitely improve. We can call the game better and we can protect better. … there’s plenty of areas for improvement for us.” He also said that “on a positive note, I loved our ability to run the football on the most obvious downs when they know we are going to run it and we know we are going to run it, and we tackled like crazy and I love watching Kasen Williams continue to mature.”
— The comment about needing improvement at tight end led to a follow-up about that spot and Sarkisian said “we can get more out of that position and that goes without saying.” He added that it’s worth remembering that Austin Seferian-Jenkins is just “a true sophomore and the maturation process for him at that position is ongoing and that position is one of the most difficult to play because of how much you have to do and do well (receiving, motioning, blocking, etc.). … and Stanford had good edge players.”
— Asked if he thinks the players think much about the eight-game losing streak to Oregon, he reiterated a theme of the week that that is not something the team thinks or talks about. “I really don’t think they know,” he said. “If you didn’t tell our guys that Washington has lost to Oregon eight times in a row, I don’t think they would have any idea. You have to remember these kids eight years ago they were 10 years old. I think that they are so focused on this game and the preparation for this game. Sure, they want to beat Oregon — I’m not naive to think they don’t want to beat Oregon. … but I don’t think they get caught up in all of the history of it. Right wrong or indifferent, the make up of this team is not that way. ”
— Asked if there will be carryover from the defensive performance against Stanford he said there will be in “some real base football fundamentals. … you have to be great at the point of attack and being disciplined and staying in your gap and you have to tackle really, really well.” But he said the nature of Oregon’s offense will require a lot of different tactics than were used against Stanford. “How they run the ball and the way they do it is drastically different than the way Stanford does it,” he said.
— He talked again about the depth that is needed to play against Oregon’s offense, saying “the depth is the issue because they do so much almost in a manner to try to wear you out rather than just beat you early on. So our depth is going to be critical early on, like we have been doing. Last week played almost 28 players on defense and special teams, so that’s a great number for us that we have that many guys on the field contributing and we will have to do that in this ball game, rotate early in the ball game so that we are fresh in the third and fourth quarters when they are fresh.”
— Asked about the matchup of UW’s offense against Oregon’s defense, he noted that “we are a little bit different offensively than we were” the last few years and “we are still finding our way through some stuff. … the key to tomorrow night is going to be how we mature up front because Oregon is very good on its front seven. … they are so good up front and that is going to be a huge challenge for us to find a rhythm in our offense and that’s going to be key for us. Our front seven and their front seven is going to be the battle.” He said he thinks that “on the perimeter we have some favorable matchups” but that the key will be getting enough protection “to get to those matchups.”
— He closed by saying he thinks “special teams are going to be a key component” and that he thinks UW can do some things in its return game but that the other key will be “our ability to cover kicks and minimize that factor for them.”