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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 19, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Monday Sark bites and video — Apple Cup edition

Today’s Monday, and that means Steve Sarkisian’s weekly press conference. But this one was also previewing the Apple Cup, so it was pretty lengthy. I have video of a lot of it below, in two parts, as well as most of the key quotes.

I’ll note first that there’s no significant personnel news. Sarkisian said they remain “hopeful” that Desmond Trufant will play but that he has not yet been cleared. He said they are “status quo” with the rest of the roster as it was for Colorado, meaning everyone who played in that game will be available.

So here we go. First, the video:

Here’s part one:

[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”1978329952001″][/do]

And part two:

[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”1978361806001″][/do]

And now some quotes:

Opening comment: “Well, quick recap of the last ball game with Colorado, I thought that our kids played hard. Sometimes when a game starts off in a manner in which you want the score to be different early on, that wasn’t indicative of the effort that our kids gave. Our kids really played hard, they really tried hard in the game; we just missed some key opportunities early in the ball game. Obviously the fumble inside the five-yard line, there’s a second-down pass in another sequence where Keith (Price) and Austin (Seferian-Jenkins) just aren’t on the same page and we ultimately boink the field goal off the upright. But our defense continued to play hard and create turnovers. I thought we were sound on special teams, and then our offense found its rhythm and then got going. Keith played nicely in the second half. I thought Bishop (Sankey) continued to run well. It was good to see Kendyl Taylor do what he did. The offensive line, it’s unfortunate…we had two sacks, one of which I think Keith will take and the other which we get beat on, but outside of that I thought they continue to come together. It was nice to see Jaydon Mickens again step up. But again defensively I think the story of the day was eliminating their stuff on first down, doing a great job on third down and then ultimately creating the five turnovers. And the play by Kevin Smith was better on video than I thought it was in person. I didn’t realize he flipped into the stands, landed, and then celebrated in the stands when he found out we got the ball. All in all it’s a nice win for us.

“We’re pumped about this week. Honestly, as you guys well know I’m…I love the pageantry of college football, the excitement that surrounds college football. And any time you get these in-state rivalry games at the end of the year, that’s what college football is all about. So to be part of my fourth Apple Cup and for our guys is an honor…the great players and teams that have played before us – we are embracing it fully. Couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity. I think we’re on a unique stage on Friday at 12:30 the day after Thanksgiving with a national audience to let the rest of the country see how great this game can be. This is a game where you throw out records, you throw out stats. You realize the emotion that takes over in rivalry games from 18 to 22-year old young men and it’s important to corral that emotion and push it in a positive direction so you can ultimately go out and execute and execute at a high level.”

On having to address the team this week the fact that they are playing a 2-win team: “The records don’t matter. This is Washington versus Washington State. Records haven’t mattered, they won’t next year, the year after and the year after. This is…households are divided. We have a young coach on our staff whose sister goes to Washington State. That’s just the way it is. I’ve got a coach on my staff that graduated from Washington State. That…so records don’t matter. This game is about pride and emotion and the pageantry of college football – and our guys understand that.”

On being surprised at some of the struggles WSU has had: “I don’t really know. I don’t know as far as what the expectation level was for them or is for them or not…I know they play hard. I think when you look at the film their kids are playing hard, they are trying. They are in a transition year, I understand that.”

On how he’s grown as a coach the last four years: “I think I’ve had some teachable moments for myself. We touch on teachable moments for our team but I think I’ve had some for myself as well. You try to learn from them, the positive ones and the ones that don’t turn out so great. I’m thankful and grateful to Scott Woodward and the University of Washington for continually giving me this opportunity, because I think our program has steadily improved and we’ve had incremental progress year-in and year-out. I think we’ve got a roster that’s exciting for the future of our program…but right now the focus is on trying to get number 8 Friday. If we can do that, we have a chance to get 9, but we can’t get 9 without getting number 8 so that’s the focus.”

On Travis Feeney’s progress: “Travis has had a tremendous…really second half of the season. We knew potentially what he could be. At 6-4, 215, a 4.4 guy…he’s got all the attributes you want. He loves to tackle. That transition is not easy, and he made it and has steadily gotten better and better and better as the year’s gone on. I think the same can be said…you can almost put ’em in the same breath with Shaq Thompson. They’ve been a real key to our defense and our ability to mature as a defense here in the second half of the season and what we’re doing. They provide us with so much athleticism on the field that it can shrink the field for offenses because they can close and cover so much ground from the linebacker position. You add that in with John Timu, who is a great athlete there as well, we’ve got three very athletic linebackers that can cover a lot of space that maybe we haven’t had in the past that have minimized maybe some of the bigger plays. I know we had some rough ball games earlier in the year defensively against some of the spread teams, but I’d like to think as we move forward with that type of athleticism at linebacker that won’t be the case so much anymore.”

On the improvement in the pass defense numbers: “I think Tru has been a big part of that. I know he didn’t play last week versus Colorado, but Desmond has been such a great leader back there. We’ve put him on so many islands against some really good players that has allowed us to roll coverages in different directions. I think Sean Parker’s really improved; I think Marcus Peters – from game one until now – has made great strides; Greg Ducre…I think in general we’re just playing better as a group. We’re understanding our schemes, we’re communicating much better than we were earlier in the year, and that’s the sign of good coaching but also coachable players and guys that are listening and being attentive and working on the little things week-in and week-out to get better.”

On WSU’s passing attack: “It’s going to be a big challenge for us. Coach Leach and what he does with his offense, spreading the field and throwing the ball, it’s going to be key for us to communicate really well so we know what is going on, understand our leverages and who is playing with what leverage and where our help is and then ultimately trying to get to the quarterback. If you let them sit back there, either of them, if you let them sit back there and be comfortable in the pocket and throwing the ball they’ll start to dice you up and they dice you up quickly and get yards in chunks. We’re going to have to mix some things up from a coverage standpoint but also try and get after the quarterback.”

On playing against a team that passes so much more than it runs: “This is the kind of game they’ll come out and probably run it the first six plays of the game or something and we’ll be in dime defense. That’s just the way these kinds of games go. You’re always hesitant to give up the chunks and whatever the opposite is. Use the analogy of playing an Air Force, who runs the ball, runs the ball, runs the ball and then play-action pass over the top and hits you for 60 for a touchdown. For us, you have to defend the pass obviously and their ability to throw the ball, but we can’t just neglect the run. We have to be disciplined in our gap integrity, so that when they do run we can be effective at stopping it.”

On being athletic at linebacker allowing the team to play more base defense: “It’s been good to us. We’re allowed to play a little bit more man to man with those two guys covering tight ends and backs and slot receivers. And in turn that keeps our base blitz packages on the field and we’re seeing that as well out of Travis Feeney. We saw that again last week with his ability to pressure the quarterback blitzing from the linebacker position. It’s been good to us that way, we still go to some of our nickel stuff which has been good to us as well with Ducre coming into the slot and getting a few more speed rushers on the field. But all in all our base defense is something that is pretty well versed to play against anything.”

On how flexible Justin Wilcox has been with his defense: “It’s a real tribute to Justin and our defensive staff to get what he wants to get done to fit our personnel and visa versa to put players in position to do the things they do well and having the patience to hold back on some of the stuff he would really like to do, but maybe we’re not fit to do yet from a physical standpoint, from a personnel standpoint. But they’ve done a great job and they’re really improved and this wasn’t an easy year for all of us as we moved through it. we had some rough road games there along the way, but they persevered and stuck to their guns of what we’re good at and what we’re capable of and didn’t panic and didn’t scrap a defense and try something new. They kept teaching and kept motivating and we’re playing pretty good.”

On how Shane Brostek played on defense against Colorado: “He tried hard. First game playing defensive line and the guy was an o-lineman. I think hopefully we can see more of him there. Shane is a good kid, a blue collar kid and I’ve always said when he was on the offensive side that he had a defensive mentality and I think he’ll be good for us over there. It will just take a little time.”

On Seferian-Jenkins being a semifinalist for the Mackey Award: “I think he’s had a great year. I don’t know exactly where his numbers are in comparison to the rest of the guys. I know the impact he’s had on us offensively has been huge. Of our three real go to guys – Austin, Kasen and Bishop – Austin has had a huge role for us. He’s made some tremendous plays for us, big plays for us. I think his willingness to improve in the blocking game is evident. We are seeing him doing a better job of that. And his willingness to do what’s best for the team by going over and playing on defense in some obvious passing downs and recovering a fumble in last week’s ball game, I think speaks volumes for the type of individual he is. If there are three better tight ends in this country better than Austin, then I’d like to see them. I know there’s some pretty good ones in our conference are pretty good, but I’d put 88 right up with them all.

On always being confident that the players in the secondary were good even through last year’s struggles: “I’ve always been high on them. I think that not only the addition of Justin but Keith Heyward has had a great effect on our secondary. He’s brought a real confidence and calming effect to them. I think we’ve reduced the amount of anxiety we used to play back there. We believe in ourselves. We trust our technique. We play with a great deal of confidence. And ultimately we are making plays on the ball, better than we have before. We are getting interceptions. We are breaking up passes. Real credit to Keith Heyward, just and our grad assistant Donte Williams.”

On Bishop Sankey started to make some good catches on checkdowns: “I think there’s definition timing to it. I think it’s the quarterback going back to his progression. Which has been encouraging for me to see, keith getting through his progression and when things aren’t there and checking it down. And it’s the back knowing where to be at the right time. Sometimes that’s the last stage of it all for a running back. You have the running game. You have the routes called for you. You have the pass protection. Then you have the pass protection and then getting where you to need to get to so the quarterback can count on you. That’s been evident the last couple weeks here as well. Bishop has been a real factor that way.”

On Price getting more comfortable with the personnel the last few years: “His anticipation is greatly improved the last month. That’s why the one was a little frustration for he and for and I and for Austin when he missed him for the easy touchdown. The rapport with the receiving corps, the anticipation and understanding coverages and where guys are going to go has just really improved in the last month. Again, that’s a sign of a guy willing to work, willing to try and get better, and taking to coaching.”

On the players being revved up for the rivalry: “You almost have to tone them down because sometimes they put a little too much into it. At the end of the day, all the build up is the build up. When the whistle blows, you have to play the game, and you have to execute the game. We embrace all of the build up and the pageantry but you have to get those young guys to understand you have to go execute – tackle, catch and do the little things right.”

On if Shane Brostek’s move to defense is permanent: “We are going to do it through the end of the season. Then we will reassess our roster and see where we are at.”

On why the Huskies seem to perform well when times are the bleakest: “Hahahaha, I don’t know. I’ve always thought of – and by no means I don’t want anyone take this the wrong way, I’m not trying to toot my own horn here – I’ve always thought of myself of a pretty resilient guy. I don’t when I say I relish the underdog role. As a player I never was the biggest, strongest, fastest guy. I always like to find those edges whether it was mentally or emotionally or whatever it was to try to be successful. I’ve just tried to convey that type of messaging to our team at the most adverse times. The really good players are the ones that are at their best through the most adverse times. I never want our team to be viewed upon as a convenience team. When it’s convention to be good, we are good. We should be good at the most adverse times. I think we’ve shown that. I think we respond really well to adversity. We talk to adversity. We talk about consistency, whether it was on the football field, whether it’s in the classroom, whether it’s in lives and all three phases of those lives working together to create balance. Our guys respond to it. Do I like it all the time? No. You know, I wish we didn’t give up 52 in Tucson, 52 in Eugene and 41 at LSU. But I think you again a lot from those experiences and you can build on them. Our guys have done that. I’ve been proud of them. They’ve really matured throughout this season. I’ve been very proud of them. ”

On the team finishing fast most of the time during his time at UW: “I think it’s great heading into the off-season, that kind of stuff. It speaks to the coaching and guys trying to get better and working with players and individual things. I’d like for us to start fast one of these years and close well and put it all together, and hopefully that’s next year. But the end result is it’s continually trying to motivate your kids, it’s leadership stepping up, it’s understanding how to win in November, whether it’s through the elements of weather or on the road and things of that nature. So that is something that when you look at our program, you look at over the first four years of us being together, we generally play well late in the season.”

On if there are any things they do differently in practice later in the year: “We shrink it up a little bit, the later into November that we go. Today was a short practice for us, obviously it’s a shorter week. I think part of it, we stress to the staff is identifying the things that we have done well throughout the season and continuing to focus on those things and not trying to reinvent the wheel late in the year but continue to lean on the things that have been good to us in all three phases and I think our players gain confidence from that, as well.”

On the schedule of the short week: “A little bit with the holiday and the kickoff time being so early on Friday. So we’ve bumped everything up a day with a pretty late day though today in our minds was a Tuesday, though a lighter one for sure.”

On the plan for Thanksgiving day: “We’ll have a walk-through here Thursday, we’ll get all cleaned up, put on our sweaters and ties and have our Thanksgiving meal actually right up here before we go to Pullman.”

On the meeting after the Arizona game and how that helped turn the season around: “I generally don’t script speeches. I do a little better when it’s not just off-the-cuff but it’s thought out, for sure. We talked about the difference between hope and belief, when you hope to win or you believe you are going to win. And you get belief through preparation. When you prepare really well you get confidence, when you get confidence you gain belief. And that belief has to come from within, first and then it’s the belief in the guys next to you, it’s the belief in the coaches, it’s the belief in the schemes. Forget what’s on the scoreboard, are you believing in yourself that you are going to beat the guy in front of you and you have the abilities and the knowledge to execute the scheme with the proper fundamentals, the proper techniques to ultimately win that play. And I thought our belief was wavering some. I thought we were going in with hope into the ballgames. I think our belief is at an ultimate high for where we’ve been at a program right now. I think with belief you minimize panic when things don’t go well, there is no panic, there is no stress. There is a calming effect of knowing that this is what we need to get fixed and when we get it fixed we will be fine. And I think our coaches and our team are understanding that more each and every day, but that starts today in our preparation for this game Friday. You develop a knowing, you develop a belief through preparation it’s not through hope. Hope is going down to the local liquor store and buying five lottery tickets and scratching them off and hoping to be a millionaire. But that doesn’t last and the odds are against you. And so through preparation, through hard work you can develop a belief that someday whatever you put your mind to you can be successful and I think our guys are understanding that.”

On what Mike Leach will learn from coaching in an Apple Cup: “I think he probably already knows. It didn’t take me long that this is a big game, it’s a big game for a lot of reasons. Coach Leach has been in a lot of big games before and rivalry games at Texas Tech , when he was at Oklahoma and things of that nature. So I think he already knows.”

On being recruited by WSU out of junior college: “Yeah, briefly. I didn’t take a trip or anything, I didn’t do that.”

On redshirting players who have looked good lately in practice: “I think Brandon Beaver, Cleveland Wallace are two guys that definitely jump out at me, have done nice things. Dwayne Washington has had a real impact. Blake Rogers has steadily improved. Some of our young offensive linemen: Jake Eldrenkamp, Nathan Dean, those guys have showed some real stuff. Those are the ones that really just stick out right now, top of my head. Cory Littleton was one who, certainly, had made such an impact early on that we took the redshirt off of him and decided to play him, and he’s playing well.”

On if he has thoughts on playing the Apple Cup on a Friday after Thanksgiving: “I don’t know what I get out of doing that, whether I do it or I don’t. It’s control what you can control, and I can control what we do, the way we practice, the way we prepare and I guess what we wear. I can’t control what time we play, where we play, who the officials are. I can’t control that stuff. And so I try not to waste too much time of my energy on that stuff. This is a tall enough task as it is that we have here to be worrying about that stuff.”

On if he saw the Oregon-Stanford game: “Caught the very, very end of it. Obviously, great game. Two very good teams battling. I thought that the young kid for Stanford there with the touchdown pass in the fourth quarter was impressive. Stanford’s defense. Great college football game in a very tough conference. I say it week in and week out, in this conference, you’d better show up every Saturday – or Friday or Thursday, whenever they ask us to play — you’d better show up or you’re going to get beat. I don’t know if that was Oregon’s best game but Stanford played a very clean football game and they found a way to win late.”

On when he knew he could trust the defense this season: “I think we got a pretty good feel for that against Stanford. Our ability in that game to play the way we played against that offense and against those tight ends and that back, to not give up a touchdown on defense was very impressive. They played pretty well in that San Diego State game, and turns out that was a pretty good team as the season’s worn on. But to play like that in that Stanford game, I was like, OK, we can lean on these guys until we get a couple guys healthy on offense and until we grow up a little bit on offense. It just took us a little time to mature on offense. But the end result is, they gained confidence by us playing that way. … Them knowing that we were going to lean on them, sometimes that’s empowering. They felt that, and they’ve really responded. The way they’ve been playing this last month of the season has been tremendous.”

On what his expectations were for the defense before the season: “Y’know, I tried not to set anything. A friend of mine asked me, in the coaching business, before the season: how good are you gonna be – on offense and on defense, what do ya think? And I thought, well – this is before training camp and before the injuries started happening, I said: ‘I think we’ll be really good on offense, I think we’ll be good on defense, and I think we have a chance to be really good on special teams. And the season comes, and training camp comes, and the season goes along, and I think we’re really good on defense, I think we’re pretty good on offense, now that they’re starting to figure it out, and I think we’re pretty good on special teams. You have what you think a season might go, and what you think your team might look like, and I was off a bit in my assessment in what I thought our team could’ve been. I think we still have a chance to get there with two games left to go, with my assessment of our offense and special teams. But I think our defense, to answer the question, it’s exceeded expectations a lil bit.”

On if the in-state players are fired up for the game: “Oh, they’re fired up. They’re fired up for this one, there’s no doubt. They were fired up yesterday. Before I even talked to them about the Colorado game, they were excited about this game. Again, that’s what it’s about. The in-state players on ourn rosters quickly convey that message to the players from out of state of what this game means. And the out of state players accept it and that’s why we’re the Washington Huskies now and not a couple kids from Skyline and a kid from Gig Harbor and a kid from Oakland and five kids from Los Angeles. We’re the Washington Huskies now. This is our family, that’s what we are, and this W represents us. And we represent it. So it doesn’t take long to get that message conveyed to one another.”

On when he got that message at BYU: “It became clear to me at halftime my first game, when I’d thrown three picks and I was getting booed by our own fans. I knew right then that this game meant a lot.”

On if Trufant will play: “Yeah, we’re hopeful. He has not been cleared to play yet, but we’re hopeful we get him back.”

On the improvement of the offensive line: “It’s been awesome. To think we have four sophomores and a senior, and at times we played with a true freshman and another sophomore in James Atoe, they’re getting better week after week after week. They still have some lapses at times, but, man, they’ve improved. I’m really proud of those guys cuz there’s a lotta heat on them. When you’re preparing all offseason thinking, I’m a sophomore and I might not play much this year, and then you get thrown into the fire and you’re playing against some of the elite defensive linemen in the country, you have to grow up and you have to grow up quickly, and I think they’ve done that.”

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