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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 12, 2012 at 1:35 PM

Monday Sark bites — and video

Here is some video and quotes from UW coach Steve Sarkisian’s regular Monday press conference.

First, a few personnel updates.

Sarkisian, asked about the defensive line and the injury issues there, said this: “Yeah, we were a little nicked up. Talia Crichton, we held out from the ball game. Pio Vatuvei…didn’t play and potentially could be lost for the remainder of the season. I think that’s probably what’s going to come out of this. Princeton Fuimaono was held out of the ball game and could be held out for a couple more weeks here. So we were a bit nicked up on the defensive front. Josh Banks was not 100 percent last Saturday night. With some of that being nicked up on the defensive line and with the opportunities that presented itself, we were able to get Austin (Seferian-Jenkins) on the field and do some things.”

Of Desmond Trufant, who has been bothered by a hamstring injury, he said: “We’ll see. Any time you are dealing with a hamstring, you know … it’s not the severity where I can come out and say he’s out for the next two weeks, like some guys have been. But it’s enough that it’s bothered him. And so hopefully we can get him more healthy this week than he was going into the game last week. The hard part for ‘Tru’ is he is so competitive and he wants to be out there making his plays and doing it the way he knows how to do it, and when he can’t it gets frustrating for him. So we’ll see how he progresses throughout the week.”

And he said John Timu, who left briefly with a stinger but returned, “should be fine.”

Here is the video in two parts followed by quotes below:

Part one:

[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”1964186557001″][/do]

Part two:

[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”1964227341001″][/do]

Opening Statement: “Well in quick review of last week’s game – I thought it was a complete performance. I thought our guys played a good football game, a relatively sound game. I know we had a few penalties that we’re trying to clean up but the number went down from 12 to 8. Again, I don’t know if we necessarily have to agree with all of them, but they are what they are. I thought Keith (Price), that was by far and away his best game of the year. I thought Bishop (Sankey) ran extremely well. I thought defensively – again, the key to that ball game was eliminating the run on first and 10. I know we gave up a couple of big runs there, but for the most part we did that. And then we played really good third down defense. When you hold your opponent to 1 for 13 on third down and you get off the field you give your offense opportunities. Conversely the offense – I think 7 for 15 on third down – the efficiency in the red zone…all that added up to a good ball game for us, a good performance, a complete game – hopefully one we can build on here and continue to grow on from as we head into the last couple ball games of the season.”

Third Down Defense: “I thought we covered well. I thought Justin (Wilcox) had a good plan as far as what we were trying to get done defensively. We mixed the coverages some, we mixed some pressures in there. I thought we got adequate pressure on the quarterback, we’ve improved in that area. But I thought the coverage was good; I thought the guys were on guys. And then when there was…the competitive plays to make, we made those competitive plays, which was encouraging. We won some one-on-one battles, which is what you have to do on third down. Ultimately it comes down to winning your one-on-one matchups, whether it’s at the line of scrimmage, rushing the passer, or in coverage.”

On still planning to use ASJ on defense: “We’ll see. I don’t think it’s ever just going to go away. It’s got to fit the game plan and who we’re playing and what we’re doing. I thought he was relatively successful at doing that in the game. Obviously he didn’t just beat the tackle and sack the quarterback, but he allowed us to move Hudson down inside to do some things from getting more speed on the field and utilizing that…I think that helped Andrew (Hudson) and he got a sack later in the ball game because of that. We’ll see. It’s got to marry up well with our game plan offensively and also what we’re going to see from our opponent. We haven’t got down that road yet; we’re just in base game plan mode still.”

On being reluctant to see Shaq Thompson on offense, but using ASJ on defense: “Just health, one. I think Austin is really healthy right now. Two, the need of what we need on defense from a pass rush standpoint for us to get off the field on defense on third down. I think if Shaq were to come over to offense it would be at running back and Bishop is playing pretty good right now. So I don’t know what we’d get out of Shaq is that much better, or if it would be better than what we’re getting out of Bishop (Sankey). I won’t rule out down the road at some point that Shaq wouldn’t come over and do some things offensively, and it could be this week. I don’t know, but we haven’t gotten to that point yet.”

On if he has used a player before like he is using ASJ: “I don’t recall. We’ve always practiced that kind of stuff, and especially…when these things occur with us it’s in special situations. It could be short yardage, sometimes goal-line scenarios. We’ve used Pio Vatuvei already this season on offense. So it’s specialty situations; it’s not a guy that’s just playing both ways. It’s in a specialty situation, so when Austin went in on defense it was an obvious passing downs on third down. So if and or when we do that, it will be for the specialty situations, it won’t be the guys playing both ways for the sake of playing both ways.”

On what he saw out of Drew Schultz: “He tried hard. That’s what you get out of Drew. He’s a try-hard guy, and you appreciate that about him.”

On the change in schedule to playing a day game: “I’m pumped, man. I’m so excited to get up, eat breakfast and go to the stadium and play the game. Maybe these morning practices will finally pay off for us here the last couple weeks. Obviously an 11:30 Mountain Time, 10:30 our time kickoff…the 10:30 our time kickoff is about when we normally get off the field from practice, so I don’t think waking up early and playing that game should be a big deal to us. We should be accustomed to that. I know the guys are actually pretty excited about it to get up the morning of the game and eat their Wheaties and go play.”

On if that means more game-type situations at practice this week: “We’ll practice normal. It’ll be really competitive on Tuesday, and just as it normally is in November, we’ll lighten the load a little bit on Wednesday and Thursday and do our normal walkthrough routine on Friday and go play.”

On where does Shaq Thompson play after this season: “That’s a good question. We’ve been kicking it around a little as a staff because obviously from a recruiting standpoint it could change us some of where are needs are and all that. We are going to try to really assess it after the next two weeks are done when we have a little bit of time. Because he’s playing really well right now. He’s gotten better and better as the year has gone on. We see his tackling ability, the physicality that he plays with. So I don’t know. It’s hard to tell. He’s such a unique kid. He’s so talented. Like you said he could come over and play on offense, he could return kickoffs, he could play safety, he could play linebacker. We want to do what’s best for him, we want to do what’s best for the team. So we will assess it after the season.”

On if Austin Seferian-Jenkins has surpassed what were already lofty expectations: “I think he’s right on course. He’s really improved his blocking the last two weeks, and that’s what’s been cool to me to watch is the guy buying in and taking to the coaching and working on the little things. Then the playmaking ability is coming right to the forefront and Keith (Price) is understanding that about him and giving him opportunities to make those plays. I don’t know who right now is playing better right now than him at that position around the country I just know what he is doing and he is playing at a high level. But with it is his willingness and it has been something that for a young guy he is just a true sophomore still and there are some learning lessons along the way and when there has been some adversity and when there has been some bumps in the road for him he has responded and responded to the challenges that have been presented to him and he will continually have to do that because everybody is going to know where No. 88 is and the focus is going to be on him and stopping him and he can’t get frustrated at times if the ball is not coming to him early in the games. Not that we are not trying to get him the ball but we just have to adjust to how people are playing him and what they are going to do and the end result is the rapport with the quarterback and his demeanor throughout the game staying focused and locked into the ball game. He’s going to make his plays and get his opportunities like he has the last two weeks.”

On whether he is worried about ASJ getting hurt playing defense: “This is obviously we know this is a violent sport. But guys can get injured doing stuff that there is nobody around them and we saw that early in the season, so I am not as concerned. It’s not as if he’s in there taking on run blocks and different things and he’s not in on goalline. He’s in there on obvious passing downs where he’s rushing the passer so if we are coaching afraid to get hurt then we are afraid to lose too. We’ve got to coach to win, too and play to win and expect to do that and stay aggressive and this is just another example of that.”

On whether Keith Price is also getting healthier now: “I think he’s been fine physically. I don’t think he’s really been hurt at all this season. I think if anything he is getting healthy mentally. He is understanding the guys around him are playing pretty good. He’s playing within the system. I thought he made awesome decisions the other night to throw the ball away. I don’t know how many incompletions he had. I think he had nine maybe in the game, something like that, and probably half of those were direct throw-aways so. He was throwing the ball accurately. There were a couple of throws I’m sure he’d love to have back but I just think from a mental standpoint he is healthy. He’s back to Keith Price as I know him which is fun to be around, and he’s in the game, he’s picking up the defense, he’s right there on the sidelines, being a part of the game, an integral part of the game, and not just when he’s at quarterback but when we are on defense and special teams, he is exuding a tremendous amount of confidence and leadership and in the end I think our team feeds off of him.”

On if Price seemed more decisive on Saturday: “Yeah, I thought he made really good decisions, quick decisions. Knew where he wanted to go with the football when things weren’t there, he checked the ball down. We saw Bishop Sankey with a couple of catches out of the backfield, Kendyl Taylor with a couple of catches out of the backfield. So the ball is going where it needs to be going and then the guys are making plays.”

On being bowl eligible and wondering where UW may go: “We really can’t control it. It’s somewhat out of our hands. What we can control is how we play Saturday and the way we prepare for this Saturday. Sometimes you can get caught looking at the what it’s and the what might be and miss what is right in front of you and that’s the obvious, and the obvious is we need to go to Colorado and take what we have done the last few weeks as a football team of getting better and continue to build on that and go try to put two really complete games in a row and see if we can start another streak of putting two road wins together which we haven’t done in a while. So there are a lot of things right in front of us that I want us to focus on. I can’t control what happens around our conference, there’s a lot of games to be played — I know there is only two weeks left but a lot of teams are playing each other. And we can’t control that stuff. What we can control is ourselves and what is right in front of us.”

On what changed prior to the Oregon State game: “We practiced and really played with a purpose against Oregon State. I thought our guys came out of that game and played with a real sense of purpose. Defensively our ability to create turnovers is evident. It has been the last three weeks for us. I think we’ve generated 10 turnovers now in three weeks. The emphasis of getting after the football. Our ability to take care of it last week was big against a Utah team that was very opportunistic. It’s unfortunate Kasen had his fumble on the screen but outside of that the ball security is improving. We’re understanding that aspect of the game. but more importantly is the sense of purpose that we are going to work with every day and ultimately we’re playing with on Saturdays. There is no going through the motions. You have to come ready to go, ready to play and do it from the opening kickoff and I think we’ve been doing that. Sometimes we may be a little over aggressive obviously with some of the penalties we’ve gotten but I’d much rather that be the case then us be passive with our approach. We’re coming out very aggressive and we’re playing that way.”

On Colorado struggling despite a long tradition: “It’s always challenging. I know coach (Jon) Embree. I know him personally and I know he is fighting his tail off with that coaching staff to get the best out of his football team. It’s challenging. We’ve been there before and it’s not always fun, it’s not always easy, but when you watch the film they are playing hard. And sometimes it takes a little time to get over the hump. They’re obviously coaching hard. They are still playing hard they just haven’t got a lot of luck. That being said, they’re going to come out and play hard at 11:30 Saturday morning at Folsom Field and we better be ready to go.”

On how big were Price’s two late completions against OSU: “I think it’s helped him. I think it’s helped him to understand our style of offense and who we are. I know I’ve said this numerous times, but Kasen and Austin are not guys that are going to be open by 10 yards behind the defense. They are guys that when it’s one-on-one, that’s open. And understanding that and throwing the ball to a place that gives them a chance to make their plays is what is needed in those moments. Keith is starting to do that and it’s becoming a little bit more obvious to him I think and he’s much more aware of that stuff when it has occurred and is more apt to make that type of throw. Is he doing is as much as we would like? Probably not quite honestly. I would like to throw it more, more of those types of throws. That’s what we’re working toward that. That’s what the season is about, evolving to the personality and the personnel of your team and playing to it. We’ve got two more regular season games to go to develop some of that kind of stuff.”

On being 3-0 while wearing a hat instead of a visor: “I don’t know. Maybe our players. Ask them, maybe they notice the hat. I just try to fuel your fire Aaron, keep you relevant. It’s a hat. Literally coach Johnny Nansen was wearing the hat in the hotel whenever that game was and it was raining outside and I said ‘hey let me wear that hat in the game’ and that’s how the hat began. If that is all part of us winning three games in a row I’ll keep wearing the hat.”

On if there is a superstition to wearing the hat: “I really … I haven’t spent that much time delegating over what to wear in the game. But now, it’s pretty clear to me the hat, it’s just unbelievable the success we have with me in the hat. So continue with the hat.”

On the impact of trainer Keith Belton, the “towel guy” on the sidelines: “Well, I love what Keith brings. But I think it’s just in general our entire staff has done a great job, our leaders on this team (have done a great job) of, you know we only get 13 opportunities to do what we do. And we work really hard for those 13 opportunities for four hours on a Saturday — or a Friday, or a Thursday, whenever we play — to enjoy the experience of college football. Some of our guys get to play 80, 85 snaps a game. Other guys might not get in the game. But that experience for whatever it is for the 85 plays or the none of just being in that stadium, being with their teammates and the blood and the sweat and the tears, I just want them to enjoy it. It’s to no disrespect to the game or to our opponent or any of that. It’s about us enjoying the experience of being together and playing college football because it goes by too fast for them. I just want them to enjoy it. And Keith has done a great job of rallying those guys on the sidelines and getting them excited about it. And I think it’s helped in our play, as well. I think it keeps guys involved in the football game so that their number is called they are not caught off guard. They are expecting to be put in, and when they are they make their plays.”

On what the three-game losing streak taught the team: “I think we’ve matured, to use the best term. With all of the stuff that occurred to us, in training camp and early in the season with some of the guys being lost and injured at times, we played a great deal of young football players early in the season. And some of our not-quite-veterans-yet had to become veterans, had to become leaders. When you are counting on Kasen Williams and Austin as sophomores as leaders, when you are counting on a second-year quarterback to be your leader, some of the youth we have on defense, it took us some time to mature and understand what it took day in and day out and understand what real leadership is. And our guys have responded, really matured. And what I like about it is — you know, I go back to whatever it was, that 16- or 18-play drive we had at the end of the ball game this past week and the execution that took in some critical situations, our ability on defense to get a critical stop on fourth and 1, to line up right and not be in the wrong gap where early in the season we were and gave up big plays. So a lot of things are adding up for us. Guys are understanding the situations of the game — and then ultimately executing in those situations and believing in themselves. So a lot has been put into it, whether it’s belief, execution, prepartion. But the end result is I think it is maturity, quite honestly.”

On the offensive line’s play against Utah: “I thought they played well. They’ve had some good games against some good fronts. But I think the complete game, in the run game and the pass game, that was a complete game for us. I thought they played well in the last week at Cal. I thought they played good against Oregon State. So it’s coming together. It’s guys coming together and counting on one another. I feel good where we are on that front. They are plenty of areas of improvement, believe me. We were not perfect Saturday night. But it was probably our most complete performance as an offense, in general.”

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