As always on Mondays during the football season, UW coach Steve Sarkisian spoke to the media today.
So here we go, with some transcribed quotes (here and after the jump) as well as some video:
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Opening statement: “Well, I think, at least for a month now, it feels good to sit here on a Monday coming off a win and talk about a win. But with it all again, really proud of our guys and the effort they put forth in the game…extremely physical game in all three phases when you look at it, which it what we thought it would be. Oregon State’s a very good football team, well coached, play hard. And I thought our guys really matched the physicality that was needed in that game.
“The discipline in which we played was a little disappointing and something that has already been addressed and will be addressed. We were flagged 14 times in the game, 8 of which were accepted – which is an amazing amount of penalty flags, so that’s getting addressed already.
“I thought the turnovers, as we have always touched on, were a big factor in the ball game. When you can create the four interceptions and only throw one – of which I wish we can have back…we kind of run through the route and you catch that slant and we should have no turnovers – but the effort was really good. You think about the fumble by Kendyl Taylor and Cody Bruns is there to recover it in the end zone for the touchdown – the effort to get around the ball. John Timu’s interception, although called back for the penalty, we saw Princeton Fuimaono’s effort to recover that ball in the end zone. Our guys are really flying around and playing hard. The execution was better, but not to where we need to be.
“Like we said to the team, there’s going to be plenty of stuff for us to continue to improve upon this week if we want to go down and win at Cal. It’s going to be a great challenge for us, national audience, national television – in a ball game I’m sure they are going to be fired up for. It’s a challenge for us if you look at our history on the road and what we’ve…moreso what we’ve not been able to get done on the road is really what’s being addressed in our approach, our focus and what it’s going to take to go get a win against a tough Pac-12 opponent like it is every week.”
On how the short week impacts their preparation: “It’s not going to affect us too too much because it’s a night game there Friday night. So we’ll treat Tuesday and Wednesday exactly the same. Thursday will be a little lighter load than we normally would have for a normal Thursday. And then we’re going to do what would be our Friday walkthrough, we’re actually going to do those Friday morning, the day of the ball game – so we should be okay.”
On the pros and cons of his decision to throw late in the OSU game and his evolution as a play caller: “That was total head coach mode. I was trying to win the game. I don’t…I go through all the scenarios myself all the time as the game’s…after the ball games – okay, what would I do differently, here, there, whatever – and I’m as extremely critical of myself as anybody…would I do this differently, that differently – I wouldn’t have done one thing different in that scenario, quite honestly. If we convert a first down there, the ball game is over even though they have three time outs – the game’s over. We can run the ball three times, make ’em use all three. If we score, great – if we don’t they are out of time outs, we kick the field goal – the game’s over. When we got to the third and medium there when they jumped offsides on the second down with a minute – and I believe – fifteen seconds left in the game roughly…the goal was to get a first down. We could have easily ran it and got two yards, they use one time out – they still have two time outs remaining and all they need is a field goal to tie the game at that point. If it were a touchdown game, it’s a different scenario. Maybe I should consult some of my mentors if they would have handled it differently, but I sure wouldn’t have. If I could do it all over again I’d do it the exact same way. And we had a good play call; we just didn’t…we couldn’t make the play.”
On his thoughts on the penalties: “Obviously I have to be careful here, I want Larry Scott to like me all the time, not some of the time. I think that some of the penalties, sure, the majority of them, sure, I agree with. There are others of them that are questionable. And just like when you talk about beauty is in the eye of the beholder, sometimes judgment calls get made by officials and it’s the way they see it, the way they interpret it. I necessarily don’t have to agree with all of them but ultimately it’s their call and that’s their job and you want an explanation of why things get called and then you move forward. I think we’ve learned that from the past you can get stuck harboring thoughts about penalties and then the game is going on right in front of you. So you have to move past it, you control what you can control, you want to get an explanation so you don’t do it again and then you move forward.”
On doing something different on the road: “We’ve got a few things but more than anything it’s understanding what the challenge is and embracing it. It’s not something to shy away from. It’s a great opportunity for our football team to mature, to take another step in the right direction of understanding the focus that is needed when you go on the road as a team. The business-like mentality that you take when you go on the road as a team. The understanding that you are going into a hostile environment. It’s really the 70 plays, plus staff, plus whatever family members can find their way there, that’s what you have. And you can’t rely on the 60,000 or so fans like you can at CenturyLink, and so we have to find that energy from within and play disciplined football and good execution and physical football and all those things add up but understand where that energy has to come from. It has to come from within, we can’t rely on outside sources.”
On if there’s some momentum that can be taken to Berkeley after beating Oregon State: “I think from a health standpoint I don’t mind it as much. The energies that we’ve already sustained are the ones that we have, and the guys are out for the season for the most part. And so we didn’t really sustain anything new. We got bumped and bruised like you do in a normal football game but we should be a relatively healthy team from the guys that we have on the active roster. I don’t know, somewhere in here, whoever invented the great game of football decided that seven days in between games is what it was supposed to be. That doesn’t mean that it has to be that way every team and we are seeing short weeks in the NFL, and seeing extended weeks. We are really not making that big a deal out of it. We understand we are playing Friday night at 6 p.m. and we have to do everything in our power to prepare for that kickoff and we will be ready to play. We just need to do a good job of utilizing our time and our time management, not only from a coach’s standpoint but a player standpoint. And we are in the midst of mid-terms right now and different things going on from a player’s perspective, so it’s just utilizing our time really well to make sure we are prepared.”
On how much more aggressive the secondary has been on the ball: “I think we’re growing in confidence. I think Desmond Trufant has had a lot to do with that. He’s played at such a high level all year. I think that’s helped Marcus Peters really mature and we’ve seen that the last couple of weeks, and not that he’s been perfect but he’s gotten better. I think Sean Parker had his best ballgame the other night. Justin Glenn has been relatively steady. If he could do it all over again I think he would love to have that deep ball back down our sideline and make the decision either to intercept it or go for the hit. He kind of got stuck in-between of trying to hit the ball and hit the man, and it’s hard to do both. I just think the confidence is there and they are believing in the calls. We came in with a new system and there is a lot of communication that takes place and they’re communicating and we lined up and played well the other night. That had a lot to do with it as well. and if you don’t line up right and don’t’ communicate well it’s hard to be aggressive and make those plays. Our alignments were really good, our communication was good and ultimately we made our plays when we had our chances.”
On if he’s been surprised by the play of the secondary: “I don’t know if it surprises us. I thought our secondary was going to be good back in spring football. they had a really good spring and it carried over to fall camp. I’d like our pass rush to continue to improve. We got some rushes the other night which was encouraging, a couple of which I think forced some errant throws. We just have to continue to work at it to find consistency that way because that will only make us better in the back end.”
On the offense not scoring more than 21 points in any FBS game and if that’s a reflection of the schedule or the Huskies: “It’s all on us. It’s on us. We just, granted we have played some pretty good teams, but our inconsistency is just glaring to me. It’s not one guys, it’s not two guys. I just feel like we keep taking our turns. Sometimes it’s the playcaller that takes his turn. It takes 11 guys executing on every snap to win that snap and for whatever reason or another we just stub our own toes with mistakes we really shouldn’t be making. That’s the fight for us. I know that we are better than the way we have been playing. I’m waiting for the game to come where we put it all together and play consistently disciplined and executing plays down after down after down because when we do we’ll be pretty good. IT’s never too late to get there. Change is inevitable, either you’re going to get better or get worse and so the goal for us is to get better and continue to work toward that.”
On if there’s any danger in looking past teams now that UW is past the tough part of thee schedule: “Heck no. You watch this conference, and week in and week out you never know what’s going to happen. You better come ready to play. It doesn’t matter if you’re at home or on the road; you better come ready to play because there’s good teams in this conference, there’s good coaches, there’s a lot of talent. So there’s definitely no letdown _ ask the players.”
On making offensive plays late in games: “Some of it’s been the coaches have been a really nice job of identifying what we’re getting defensively and ways to attack it. I think that there’s a little bit of a different mentality when you need to make a play late in the game, and hopefully we can get that mentality shifted earlier in the ball game, the want to make that play down the field. We obviously saw Kasen (Williams) down the field with some big plays in the fourth quarter. I think it’s all of that adding up, our aggressiveness and how we attack people. We’ve always tried to pride ourselves on a good game plan, good first 15 plays in our script. For whatever reason this year, they haven’t been as good. That doesn’t mean we’re all of a sudden going to change. We’re going to stick to what we believe in and how we get things done. I touched on it last week when I was talking about Mike Riley: it’s a real credit to Coach Riley and his staff and what they’ve been able to do, doing what they do best, and ultimately it’s been really successful for them this season. We’re not just going to scrap our playbook and go run a new offense. We’re going to continue to get better at what we do, and there will come a game when we’ll hit the stride and we’ll get rolling, and we’ll close out the season. I just hope that that game starts this week, and not later.
On the late pass to Kasen Williams being the type of faith in the offense you want Keith Price to have: “Exactly. Exactly. When you’ve got a talent like Kasen Williams one-on-one, it’s trusting him that he’s going to go make that play – because that’s his game. Kasen isn’t a guy that’s going to create five yards of separation with speed; that’s not the way he’s set up. He’s a really strong guy, he’s got tremendous leaping ability, a 7-foot high jumper, he’s strong, 215 pounds or so. He’s got great body control when the ball’s in the air. So we need to understand that that’s his game. So the types of throws that we make to him have to be the ones that allow him to do what his strengths are. And not throw the ball out in front so that he’s going to run underneath it so much but to where it becomes more of a contested 50-50 and allows Kasen to defeat the man who’s playing with him 1-on-1.”
On surviving the roller-coaster nature of the season: “Well, I think just like everybody — I touched on it after the game — that was a long week. It had been a long month. This is what we do. This is our lives. I don’t know anything different. It’s unfortunate, I love watching our other sports and I had to ask Jim McLaughlin five minutes ago how they did last week, and unfortunately they didn’t do so well. So you get immersed in this. Whether it’s the coaches or the players, you immerse yourself in this thing to the point of you just want success for your players and your kids because they work so hard, and then when they achieve it, when they get it, I won’t let them breathe a sigh of relief because that’s not OK. The expectation level is to go win that ball game. Now we have to recreate that. And you can’t recreate that if you are basking in the glory of one win. You have to move on and prepare the same way you prepared before — whether it’s mentally, physically or emotionally. Wipe the slate clean and put together a game plan that is conducive to going to play the Cal Bears and then ultimately go play a fast, physical football game, and improve upon the things from the week before that were issues — the penalties being one, the execution on the offensive side of the ball being another.”
On the process of luring Tosh Lupoi and Eric Kiesau from Cal: “You know, it’s our profession. It’s just the protocol of the way things are done. Anytime you are hiring members of your staff … ultimately I am the head coach at the University of Washington. My job and my obligation is to do what’s best for this university and for this athletic department and this football program, and do it with good ethics and within the guidelines set by the NCAA. No coach ever likes to get the phone call, because I get them, too, when somebody says they want to talk to one of your coaches that you think is a really good coach. But you understand that it is part of the profession, and you do everything in your power to keep them, if you want to keep them. And if you are on the other side you do everything that is within your feasible power to get them on board. That’s just the way it works.”
On if having those guys will help this week against Cal: “I really don’t try to put much into it. Credit … last week we had Keith Heyward and this week it’s Tosh and Eric. Those guys don’t want this to be about them, believe me. Keith didn’t want it to be about him last week and Tosh and Eric don’t want it to be about them this week, either. It’s about the football team and the journey that we are on this season and what we need to get done this week to be successful.”