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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 5, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Monday Sark bites — and video

As always on Monday during the season, here are quotes and video of what UW coach Steve Sarkisian had to say during his regular weekly press conference:

First, here’s the video:

Part one:

[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”1949019592001″][/do]

And part two:

[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”1949098536001″][/do]

Now some quotes:

Opening Comments: “Well, just a quick recap of the Cal game – a lot of the same thoughts held true when we watched the film. I thought our kids played really hard with good effort. I thought they showed a great deal of resiliency on both sides. The red zone defense was tremendous by our guys in creating the turnovers and getting the stops. I thought offensively there were some good things, but then obviously us stubbing ourselves in the toe there with the turnovers. But all in all, it was a nice hard-fought win for us and I think when you win a game and then you win two in a row you start to find a way to win games rather than find a way to lose games. We found a way to win a somewhat ugly football game but like I said to the staff I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty.

“It’s good to win two in a row…fired up to be coming back to CenturyLink Field for the final home game of the season. It’s a great opportunity for us to recognize our seniors and all that they’ve done for us in their time here…also an opportunity to recognize all of our Olympians in this past Olympics from the University of Washington, which is pretty cool, and then to ultimately an opportunity to recognize Veterans Day and Veterans Weekend for us. A lot of stuff going on that way, obviously another night game…I’m not sure if that’s by popular demand or not for everybody, but it’ll be a night game – we’re anticipating a great atmosphere, our crowd rocking – really looking forward to a great environment and a chance to string three wins a row.”

On if there was any theme to all the penalties: “Nah…and again, not that all I do is defend our players, by no means – we have to be realistic and understand and when we’re right and when we’re wrong – but probably half of them that got called on us, I don’t agree with. Again, my job isn’t to be an official…maybe when I get done doing this I’ll go be an official and have fun doing that and stay on the field and all that…you know, they call it and you’ve got to play it. You play the hand you’re dealt. We can’t control what gets called and what doesn’t. I thought our kids played a really hard, physical game, I thought some of the things called we didn’t agree with, we sent it into the Pac-12, and we’ll see what the response is.”

On other coaches talking about a lot of penalties called compared to other conferences: “I think the stat going into last weekend was, of the top-30 penalized teams in America, eight of them were from our conference. If by looking at our game and by looking at the SC-Oregon game, and I believe there was one other I was watching, there’s probably more than that. There’s a lot of penalties called, but…like I said to the team, as long as everybody’s getting the same penalties called on them and it’s a level playing field – that’s all you can ask for. But there’s some stuff we definitely want clarification on so that we don’t get the same penalties called on us in the future.”

On injuries after the Cal game: “We’re a little banged up, we’re a little beat up…but that’s expected in a physical Pac-12 game, especially on the road and a team fighting for bowl opportunity and bowl chances…we knew it was going to be a physical game. And so it’s nice to have the extra day. You get the shortened week leading up to it but you get the extra day of rest coming out of it on the back end, and probably much needed. But I don’t…so far – and we’ll find out more tomorrow – I don’t think anything will be a significant time where somebody’s out. I just think it’s guys getting banged up and that’s football in November. But I’ll know more on that tomorrow as guys have another day to respond.”

On what he expected from from Bishop Sankey and has he surpassed expectations?: “He’s playing really well. I think he’s starting to get comfortable, and part of that is giving him opportunities to run the things that’s good at. So he’s getting more carries of the stuff he likes. And in turn he’s working on other areas of his game that he can continually improve upon. We went back and looked back at the film…the two times he puts it on the ground, in the football world he’s carrying the ball in the wrong arm, so he’s still a young player. He’s got the ball in his inside arm and then the ball gets jarred out. There’s still plenty of room for improvement for him, but he’s got an unbelievable work ethic. We condition our guys on Sunday night. On Friday night he has 29 carries for nearly 200 yards and on Sunday night he won every gasser on our team. I think it speaks volumes to the type of kid he is, the work ethic. I think he’s starting to get comfortable in what his role is and what his responsibility is but isn’t settling for where he’s at. He’s really working to try to get better, which is really neat to see.”

On how his play calling changed in terms of giving Sankey his carries: “I think the natural thing for Bishop would be, oh he’s a spread gun, shotgun type runner. He’s not the biggest in stature and he’ll do better when he’s running out of the gun. When you start to look at the stats and you start to self-scout and look at yourself, his numbers are actually better when we’re under center and he’s dotted behind the quarterback seven-and-a-half yards. That’s where he’s gotten some of his biggest carries. His biggest carries have come between the tackles and not so much on the perimeter. And he’s just comfortable doing that. When you go back to high school, he really was a Wildcat quarterback in a sense where they ran a lot of in-between the tackles stuff. He just did it from the shot gun and caught it and ran it, so I think that’s comfortable for him. He’s found some success on the perimeter, but I think he’s really comfortable when he can line up seven-and-a-half yards behind the quarterback and take a handoff and go run – whether it’s a zone scheme or a gap scheme.”

On how Jonathan Amosa has helped Sankey: “Jon’s played good football for us. I think the inclusion of Jon, Evan Hudson has been a real big inclusion — I don’t know how much we were going to count on him — and then the development of a (Michael) Hartvigson, we are starting to use bigger bodies on the field with Bishop. And I think that’s helped. We were in quite a few three-tight end sets the other night. Not necessarily in three-tight end formations but we had those three tight ends on the field. And those big bodies can sometimes cover guys up and create some running lanes for Bishop. And I think that’s helped.”

On if this is the rushing offense he envisioned heading into the season: “Well I think it’s always evolving, and I think that depends on your opponent and what they do and what kind of fronts they are running and where you have some advantages as compared to some disadvantages. You know, any time you can line up and run the ball 29 times or 30 times for almost 200 yards I’ll take it. I love balanced.”

On if Sankey is running harder than expected and if that’s changed how he calls the game: “I don’t know if I would have thought coming into the season, ‘Bishop Sankey can carry the ball 30 times a night. I didn’t know if was built in that way. But he really is. He doesn’t take a lot of head-on shots. He does a nice job bouncing off tacklers. We saw that the other night; he almost ricocheted forward on one run. He does a nice job of using his body to create runs. Probably has exceeded my expectations on that front, his ability to have that many carries and still be strong — still be strong on a Sunday night two days later and run the way he ran in a conditioning drill.”

On if the two Keith Price-to-Austin Seferian-Jenkins throws were examples of the trust he had talked about in recent weeks:“He threw three balls that we refer to as ‘catchable balls’ — just give-em-a-chance-type throws. One was to Kasen, and ther other two were to Austin. And we caught every one of them. Hopefully we throw more of them. That’s the goal here (chuckling), is when we get one-on-one opportunities. I don’t know that when you look at us across the board and you put our 11 on offense and our 11 on defense and our 11 on special teams I don’t know how many times we have glaring matchup opportunities, where the matchups are really in our favor. But when those two guys are in one-on-one settings that’s a matchup that we feel really, really good about. I’m sure there are a lot of other teams around the league that they feel that way, too. whether it’s on the O-line, the D-line, or their wide outs or their running backs or whatever it is. Those happen to be our matchup wins. And when we get them we have to take advantage of them. And I think we did on three occasions Friday night. And we missed on three or four others. So I’d like to see that number increase, to give them opportunities to make plays. It’s not a real secret. That’s part of our game plan, you know. So much of what we do is trying to run the football effectively enough to make you play single-high defense, and then when we get our chances one on one trying to win outside.”

On if those plays were called in the huddle or at the line: “They were essentially called, one of which came in a no-huddle setting to Kasen. The other two, to Austin, were called one-on-one opportunities for him. We called a couple others. Sometimes we didn’t get the coverage that we wanted to. We called for some other ones and didn’t quite make the throw or slipped coming out and weren’t able to throw it down the field that way. But it’s going to be a part of our offense the final month of the season.”

On if Shaq Thompson has exceeded expectations: “Well, I don’t know how much we envisioned him playing linebacker as much as he is now, even in base settings. But we wanted to keep him on the field. I think he has steadily improved in that. It’s not an easy transition. He’s only going to get better. It’s unfortunate the ankle thing has kind of just nagged on him. But he’s a unique, special player that way. His closing speed is beneficial to everybody. I think we are seeing his ability — the pick, like I told him the way the guy threw it he probably should have just used his hands instead the ball got into his body — you’ve got to critique him for something. But the burst that he showed, he almost stepped out of that for a touchdown. I would have liked to use him more on kickoff-return stuff because of that explosiveness. But he’s been so nicked up here and there that we haven’t been able to do that. But he’s been great for us. And I think his best days are still ahead of him. He’s an awesome kid.”

On if Shaq will play offense since people thought he looked good running that interception back: “I think he would be a pretty good tailback. Without a doubt, he’d be pretty good. We just haven’t been able to get there yet. We’ve made it a conscious effort guys, and I am going to say it over and over and over again, we are going to play good defense here. And I am not going to sacrifice our defense for our offense. Again, I’d much rather win 21-13 in an ugly football game than lose 67-56 and lose pretty. That’s not pretty to me. We are going to play defense and run the ball, hopefully capitalize on a few more things in the passing game than we have been able to. But the days, hopefully, of us just putting all of our best players on offense because that’s the sexy thing to do isn’t going to happen.”

On the ability of the defense to eliminate big plays other than the one long run by Cal:“The draw, that was really disappointing. I think it was third-and-31, third-and-28, whatever it was and they run a little inside zone handoff, knowing, okay that’s fine. Let them get their 8-10-12 yards, tackle the guy, punt and we have two guys run into each other. But I think their mentality of believing in the scheme and the system and not trying to make a play but allowing the defense to work is really showing up. And then we are becoming more and more physical as each week comes on I think because of their confidence in the scheme. We are tackling and we are hitting guys and that’s how you are supposed to play.”

On if the Danny Shelton tackle of Zach Maynard was dirty: “I don’t know anymore than what happened. He just tackled the guy. Am I missing something? Sorry. … I don’t think it was intentional at all. That’s the first I’ve heard of it. He tackled him. I don’t know. That’s all I can say on it, sorry, I’m totally na√Øve to what you are asking me. But he tackled the guy. We got a penalty called for Travis Feeney hitting the quarterback too hard, too. I didn’t understand that one, either.”

On the senior class playing its last home game Saturday: “These guys, they endured a lot their freshman year prior to us getting here. Signed on to play with a different staff and we came on board and a lot of these guys have played a lot of football for us since they were puppies, since the very beginning. (Drew) Schaefer, (Cody) Bruns, Justin Glenn, it’s unfortunate Adam Long got injured a year ago so he hasn’t had the senior year he would have liked. All in all, really good group of guys. Thankful for all that they have done for the program. Hopeful we can close out their senior season and their careers on a continual upward trend from where they started, their second, third, fourth now fifth years have gone because we have needed them along the way. We talked to the team about it last night along with those guys — this is their Senior Night, but there is still a lot of football left on our schedule, a lot of meat left on the bone, it’s playoff time. So much as I love those guys, I love Tru (Desmond Trufant) and everything that they’ve done, because it’s Senior Night it’s not going to make them or us play any better. We need to prepare really well. We need to be prepared for a physical battle, that’s the way Utah is going to play the game and that’s the way we are going to play the game. They are going to get about their eight seconds of fame when they call out their name and they run on the field, but after that we’ve got to go play football.”

On calling for another black out: “I don’t know. I’m just trying to get a first down against Star Lotulelei and the Kruger bothers. They’ve got some goons up front, so that’s been the focus the last 48 hours.”

On the coaching challenges of night games and if there are any complications with having morning practices and then night games: “That part is not that bad. Our last extensive practice is Thursday morning, so it really gives us another 12 hours, or maybe it’s not quite that much, of rest, which isn’t that bad. The hard part is just, you are in a hotel all day, you know? You try to keep the guys into it as best you can. You are watching these other games on TV. It’s a grind. It’s not bad once or twice a year but when it’s, I don’t know how many, but we have played one 12:30 game all season and every other one has been 4 p.m. or later. It’s just, it’s not anxiety, but there’s a sense of it’s hard to sit still. You want to go do what you are asked to do, and to wait that long it’s challenging. But I guess the flip side of that, we are used to it, we know how to deal with it. From a fan’s perspective I’m sure it’s a decent split, a lot of fans would love to play during the day. I think there is probably a group of our younger fan base that doesn’t mind the night game and has a chance to enjoy themselves throughout the day and arrive really fired up and to get CenturyLink rocking. So you play the hand you are dealt, we are hopeful by the time that opening kickoff is there that the place is packed and rocking and we have a great homefield advantage again. We’ve played well at home, we have one loss that I wish we could have the last quarter-and-a-half back of that game because I think it could have been a different outcome as well. But we have played well at home, especially defensively and we are looking forward to another really good effort from our guys.”

On if Bruns has become the regular punt returner: “It’s been situational. We just felt good about the returns we had going last week and then how Cody has been practicing. When you have got a young football team we really try and impress upon them the way you practice will ultimately be how much you play or don’t play come Saturday. You don’t just get to go through the motions during the week and expect to be an integral part of the game plan whether it’s offense, defense or special teams. Cody being a fifth-year senior understands the value of practice. He practices really, really well. He instills trust in the coaching staff and then he gets his opportunities to go and play and he had another nice return the other night, a really nice return. He had a big time catch in the red zone to get us down inside the 5. Held on some critical extra point stuff. So he’s got a really cool role on this team that everybody appreciates what he brings.”

On Utah’s special teams and Reggie Dunn returning three kickoffs for TDs the past two weeks: “It’s big because they are good. They’re excellent on special teams football team. You can tell they work at it, they practice it. it’s not just the kickoff return game. I know we’ve seen that the past two weeks with Reggie but they do it with the way they come after you punting the ball, the way they cover kickoffs, they do it all. It’s going to be important. Not that the other weeks it hasn’t been important for us. I think we’ve laid and placed a lot of emphasis on special teams and we’re seeing the result of that. I thought we covered excellent last week on Kickoffs against (Brendan) Bigalow who is excellent kickoff returner. The one we decided to pop over Coons-ie, Travis Coons could not have popped it over any better than he did. They got the ball right there at the 30 at a critical moment in the game. We covered and punted the ball better last week. We got a little bit of a boost in the kickoff return game with Kevin Smith popping one out. It’s been a point of emphasis for us and will continue to be because it’s an area where we can perform well and have an impact on the game.”

On Utah’s defensive line: “They’re playing really well up front. That’s where I think their team starts. Both of the Krugers with Star then Trevor Reilly comes in and does his thing when they put him at the edge spot. I thought (Brian) Blechen being back, he was out the first three games for whatever reason, he brings some attitude. It’s really an attitude based defense. They play hard-nosed, physical. They don’t’ do a whole lot, but I think they take on the personality of Kyle (Whittingham) and Kalani Sitake, their defensive coordinator, both guys I have a great deal of respect for. But it starts up front for them. If we want to be effective Saturday night, our effectiveness has to begin up front. It can’t just be on the perimeter or down the field, it has to be right up front.

On not calling out players in public settings: “I think that some things for us and the way we are structured, not that we don’t criticize our players, but for us, for me and for our kids it’s about trust and knowing that I’m going to be there for them and they’re going to be there for me. And we make it a point from the opening meeting that nobody is going to criticize anybody here, whether it’s from coach to a player, a player to a coach or a player to a player. It’s about being in this thing together and if one area of our team isn’t performing well, then other areas need to step up and play even better while that specific area continues to improve. And all of that has to start with me and understanding what those areas are and devoting our time and effort to that. If it’s consistently not working the way we want it to work then it definitely is falling on me that we’re not getting it fixed and getting it fixed in a timely manner.”



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