As he does every Monday, UW coach Steve Sarkisian met the media today. Here is some video and following that some of the transcribed quotes:
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And now some quotes:
Opening Comment: “You know, when you have a disappointing loss like that, like we had at Arizona, it’s one that truly tests your character and your resolve, not only individually but collectively as a team. We’re being tested. We talked at great length about that last night. I think that we’re all extremely disappointed in not just the outcome of the ball game Saturday night but just the manner in which the game went – the way we coached the game, the way we played the game and then ultimately the outcome of the game. As we touched on with the team – in times like this, in times of adversity, you really get acquainted with yourself. Generally the conversations are more with yourself rather with others. You don’t have the tendency to want to talk to as many people outside of yourself and generally most people don’t want to talk to you as much. So the conversations from within are the ones that are critical for us in understanding the situation that we’re in and how we work our way out of it.
“Just a general synopsis of the ball game: I thought we had a good plan in all three phases; obviously it wasn’t a good one. We generally got beat in all three phases, we didn’t execute the way we thought we could have executed the game plan, so obviously it wasn’t a good game plan. We have to do a better job of that.
“I do know that we’re taking on an excellent Oregon State team. I have a great deal of respect for Mike Riley and what he’s done at Oregon State. To think that that football team was 3-9 was a year ago, 5-7 the year before that – to rally that team and to get them to play the way they are playing right now is extremely impressive, so we’ve got another tremendous challenge on our hands this Saturday.
“I think we’ve got a group of people here that believe that we can get make changes in a week’s span that are capable enough of winning this football game, but it’s going to take a group effort. It’s not about one individual or two individuals; it’s going to take an entire group effort to make that happen. And I firmly believe that it can. I’ll be proud of our guys when this thing does get turned around, because I think these moments for a football team are not only season-changing experience, but they are program-changing experiences and life-changing experiences for the individuals involved. It’s a great challenge, but one we’ll take on head on like we always do. Unfortunately, but fortunately we’ve been here before. We’ve responded and I believe we’ll respond again.”
On the criticisms of himself: “Well, you go into every game and you have a game plan – right? You have it on offense, you have it on defense and you have it on special teams. When you practice really well throughout the week and you go into the game and those same opportunities are presented to you in all three phases – not just one, but all three phases – and you don’t carry over the way you practiced into the game, you don’t execute those same plays whether it’s on offense, defense or special teams the same way you did on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday – there’s a bit of a disconnect there. Maybe the game plan wasn’t as good as we thought because for one reason or another it didn’t get done. We’re being extremely critical of ourselves, of what we’re putting on our kids and what we’re asking them to do to ensure that we’re putting them in positions to be successful because that’s ultimately that’s what we want to have happen.”
On if passing a lot versus Arizona was an example of second-guessing: “No. We felt like we had some opportunities to throw it. We thought that there were some things for us down the field to take advantage of, some of which we did and some of which we didn’t for a variety of reasons; we missed a couple reads, we missed a couple throws, we didn’t pass protect the way I thought we would be capable of pass protecting. Ultimately the score gets to where you kind of have to throw if you want to try to win the game. Ultimately you’re trying to win the game and not just keep it close so it looks good at the end. We’re trying to win, so you’re going to throw a few more passes when you fall behind to try to get back in the ball game.”
On if he figured out the issues blocking Keith Price’s trust in the gameplan: “Yeah, I think so. I think that … He’s trying really hard, you know? He’s an ultra-competitive kid. And I really appreciate that about him. He wants to be so right, that, in the end, as human beings, the person you trust the most is yourself. The person you lean on the most is yourself. I think at times he’s trying to just rely on him right now to figure it out. My point to him is, I wouldn’t do anything ever to put him in a situation where I think he wouldn’t be successful in being. So my goal is that he believes in me and in my ability to prepare him, to put together a game plan and to call plays that he can execute and execute at a high level. And if they don’t work I’ll be the first to tell him that, ‘Hey, Keith, that’s my fault.’ I just want him to believe in me as much as he’s believing in himself.”
On how that has evaporated from last season: “I don’t know if it evaporated. It’s lessened. I think we went through a run about the midpoint of last season that it wasn’t great, either, you know. Yet we found a way to re-energize it and close out the season really well. I think we’ve dealt with some things on our roster this year that could have potentially started that trust to diminish in what’s going on around him. But I believe in the way I coach that position. I believe in Keith’s ability to play that position. And we’ll get it back. I just want to get it back sooner rather than later.”
On how he felt when these issues arose when he was a QB: “I felt like I think like Keith felt: I want to make sure about the call, rather than, ‘I’m not so sure’ — I want to make sure. In turn, what happens, you are trying to see guys get open rather than anticipate them getting open. That’s the biggest issue with it, to me. I think that we’ve all gone through it. The greatest quarterbacks have all gone through it sometimes. And the best ones have found a way out of it. And I believe Keith will, because he’s a really good player.”
On how that lack of trust translates during games: “You can be late with the ball. The rush can get there because you are holding onto the ball longer. The windows close faster, so throws that shouldn’t be contested become more contested. Your ability to trust in your play makers to make plays when they are in one-on-one settings isn’t quite as high. All of those things start to factor in. You don’t throw the ball maybe with the same amount of zip and velocity and conviction that you had in the past. And when you add all that up, that’s not great. So I’d like to think we can get a game plan together this week for Keith, one that he believes in, that allows him to do the things that he does really, really well — as well as the other 10 players that are on the field with him. That gives us a team the best chance to win.”
On what is keeping him up late about this current struggle: “Everything keeps me up late. That’s being a ball coach and it being in the middle of the season. And that’s playing good teams. And that’s being on a three-game losing skid. All that stuff. That’s natural. For me, I really like this football team. I think that’s the hard part for me. I like these kids. I really appreciate their work ethic. I appreciate their desire. They do everything they ask us to do to the best of their ability. So what keeps me up is, I just want success for them. I just feel like they deserve it. And that’s what I want. That’s the part where my searching, my digging, my trying to find the best way to connect with these guys, to stay connected with them, to get them success. Because this is a good group of guys. They are better than the way they’ve been playing. And that’s what I would like to get out of them. I’d like them to maximize their potential. Because I think when we do, which we will — when that happens, I’m not exactly sure yet — but when we do we’re going to be pretty good. We just haven’t found the right formula yet. That’s the hardest part for me. Because I’ve always felt like I could connect with the team and they would respond to me. And I thought that happened last week. But for some reason when the ball got kicked off Saturday night that didn’t occur. We made some uncharacteristic mistakes in all three phases that told me I didn’t push all the right buttons that I am accustomed to pushing. And so, back to the drawing board from a motivational standpoint — not just to get them excited to play but to get them to go out and execute at a high level and play disciplined football.”
On if there would be any thought to look at other options at quarterback: “That’s a crazy thought Keith Price is our quarterback.”
On getting blown out early and often on the road: “That one I kick around too I’m trying not to spend to too much time this week on that because the simple fact that we’re playing at home against Oregon state and the more time I spend worrying about stuff that doesn’t pertain to this week the less it helps us prepare for the ball game but I did kick it around on the flight home just some thoughts not just with me but other people in our organization to just why. We’ve looked at things along the way of changing our routine of when we’re getting there. The night game aspect of how long we’re in the opposing arenas for all of that. For whatever reason its happened so quickly that’s the part that’s been discouraging on the road for me. Very few times we’ve gone to the locker room and its a tie ball game or three point game. It feels like we’re fighting and uphill battle from the second quarter on and that’s not a great position to be in on the road. So we’re going to continue dig around and look and try to understand what that is but it’s a definite issue with us. We’re going on the road and we’re not playing very good football. Maybe we rely on our fans too much. We got great fans and we love playing in front of them obviously at Husky Stadium or CenturyLink field and I think you can see it in our play. But somewhere in here we’re going to have to rely on the hundred or so people that get on that airplane with us that that’s who we’re going with and that’s who we have to rely on and lock arms and go in an opponents stadium and play good football collectively and not rely on outside sources to motivate us.”
On the third wide receiver position: “There’s a lot of different roles taking place and guys doing different things in the game plan. Really impressed by Kasen (Williams) and Austin (Seferian-Jenkins) again I thought they played a good football game. They played hard. It’s unfortunate Austin got a couple penalties call on him but they played hard. Thought DiAndre Campbell did an excellent job blocking especially in the run game. Still continually trying to find ways to get Jaydon Mickens involved and Cody Bruns involved in what we’re doing and looking for ways to get Marvin Hall involved. But until then we got two go-to guys and the third guy is going to be varied on the personnel groupings we have on the field.
On what the film showed of the defense: “A little disappointing, that’s why I touched on the game planning. There was stuff we practiced all week starting from the very first play. Arizona didn’t do anything new. We just didn’t align properly didn’t fit the runs properly from the beginning. We have to look at ourselves first of what we’re asking our guys to do and doing it at a high level for a consistent period because that didn’t happen.”
On getting beaten with the run up the middle: “Well they’re doing a good job of getting us spread out and stretching us horizontally across the field. We’re having a difficult time right now maintaining our gaps. Not that we’re out of our gaps. We’re in the proper gaps but that the gaps are getting washed and we’re getting pushed and pushed and now the gap becomes bigger for the one defender who’s responsible for that gap. We have to find a way to hold our ground a bit better slanting some people and different things so the gaps aren’t as big so they don’t have to make a tougher play. Against those teams that stretch us with their formations and no huddle.”
On if there is a precedent for the situation he finds himself in now: “I feel like we were in it last year, I don’t remember. We had played Stanford, Oregon and Arizona and I think the combined score, and you guys would probably know it better than me and the combined score was 130-30 or 140-30 or so, so unfortunately but fortunately we have been here before. So I only know one way and that’s through hard work to find your way out of it, to go back to work and to grind away at it whether it’s individually or collectively, there is no magic potion, and I think that we talk to the team about this last night, you have to and you get in times like this, your belief has to be stronger than ever. It can’t be about hope. Hope is the guy that goes down to the local liquor store and buys five scratch-offs and hopes to make some money and belief is the guy that believes in preparation and works hard and when he gets his opportunity he earns his money. We have to play with belief, not hope.”
On if he has spoken to Pete Carroll about this situation: “I haven’t spoken to Pete on this one.”
On Mike Criste moving to right guard and being named the starter there this week: “We just gave them all a fair shot throughout the week at right guard and we thought Mike earned it. We wanted to give James (Atoe) a start because he had been playing pretty well for us out there on the right side. But I felt like Mike earned it throughout the week last week and got progressively better throughout the week and I thought Mike actually played pretty good on the right side. I thought our right side played pretty good. Unfortunately our left side, which had been playing pretty good up to that point, didn’t have its best game Saturday night.”
On if any of the holding calls were good calls: “I don’t want to get fined for something here or say something wrong. I didn’t agree with the calls, that’s all I can say. Stuff got called, that’s football and you live with it, and you can only control what you can control and if, I don’t wear the black and white and I don’t have the yellow hankeys to make the calls. That’s not my job. And so you just try to control what you can control and be mentally tough enough to persevere and move on from it.”
On if it’s a situation where you have to rely on the captains and the leaders more than ever: “I think it’s everybody. I’ve got to rely on me, one, to convey a really good message to the guys that they believe in and that that message has to be spread throughout whether it’s from coaches, leaders, training room, to everybody that we are all on the same page and we are in it for a common goal and I think that’s the biggest thing to rely on is that we are all on a united front right now and I think that we are.”
On the defense having more success against teams that huddle up rather than those that go spread, no-huddle: “If you had asked me before the season, I probably would have said the opposite, just because of the personnel that we have in place. But for whatever reason we hadn’t performed against those teams that have gone up-tempo and spread us across the field. We haven’t played disciplined enough against those teams and that’s what’s caused us problems is our disciplines to play the calls that we are asked to play. Maybe there is something to be said about the teams that huddle up and allow us to huddle up — I don’t know that. Now probably Mike Riley is going to go no-huddle against us Saturday, I don’t know. But I do know that every game is unique and every team is unique and every challenge is unique and Oregon State is another one. They’ve got a system in place that is very good and they have been running it for years. They know how to run the football, they know how to run inside zone, they are going to run the fly sweep stuff, they are going to play-action pass and get in stack formations and get the ball to (Markus) Wheaton and to (Brandin) Cooks off of double moves and different things, and they are good at it. At the end of the day we have to defend that offense, which is different than Stanford’s, which is different than ‘SC’s, which was different than Oregon’s or Arizona’s. Every week is different.”
On if the trust with the rest of the team is any more fragile because of the current struggles: “You probably have to ask them that question more than me. I don’t think so at all. I think we’re in a good place. I feel like when we met with the team last night it was a really good team meeting. I felt great about it coming home. Walking out of the meeting I actually texted my wife ‘we just had an awesome team meeting.’ I feel good about it, but they would be better answering that than me.”
On if losing one-on-one matchups is more about talent than coaching: “I don’t’ think so. I think that sometimes you can get into a situation where you rely so much on the scheme to allow you to win the play that you get into a scenario where ‘I just need to do my job in terms of alignment, assignment standpoint’ when in reality, all of that is great but at the end of the day the mindset of competing and defeating your man is the most overriding principle that takes place. I felt a little bit like we’ve been relying on the scheme to win. So we’ll get back into some more competitive environments in practice to reinforce that through 1 on 1 scenarios and other things so we understand the value of battling the man across from you and defeating the man across from you and getting satisfaction out of that. At times we’re just relying on the scheme that if we just execute the scheme and that will be good enough to win the play and in reality you still have to defeat the man. That will be a focal point of ours.”
On if there will be more competition at the punting spot this week: “I’m hopeful. We need to punt better, we need to cover better. That wasn’t very good.”
On Oregon State’s secondary: “I think Jordan (Poyer) is a great player not only as a DB but a punt returner. I think Rashad Reynolds has improved immensely from last year to this year, really has improved himself and I think Ryan Murphy has stepped his game up at the other safety spot. I think in general their defense has really improved. They’re playing at a high level on the defensive side of the ball right now. They’ve got good depth. They’re doing things a little differently in the nickel and third down situations but their base defense hasn’t changed schematically. I think their kids have grown up in the system. They’re communicating better and playing well together.”
On Sean Mannion playing against UW and how he looks this year compared to last year: “He’s an extremely accurate deep ball thrower. They do a good job with their max protection stuff and get Wheaton and Cooks in 1 on 1 scenarios and his belief in those guys to go make plays and he’s throwing the ball downfield with conviction. He throws it accurately, he has really reduced, last year some of his issues were forcing the football, and so he’s understood the fine line between forcing it and still giving his guys opportunities to make plays. He’s been impressive.”