UW coach Steve Sarkisian was a guest on ESPN 710 Seattle this morning with former Husky quarterbacks Brock Huard and Damon Huard.
The interview — which you can listen to here — focused more on bigger-picture themes so there was not a lot of real personnel news.
Sarkisian, though, did make clear that he understands the high expectations that will greet this team this season in what is his fifth year as UW’s coach.
Asked what he expects for this season, he said “I think we’ve got an excellent football team” and that the goal when he arrived was “to come in and win championships” and that UW is now at the point where that can happen. “The goal is to win a championship. Will that happen? Time is going to tell and we definitely need to improve and improve in some specific areas. … but this season is about going to win a championship.”
As I’ve written here before, I don’t think UW will be picked in too many, if any, polls to win a title this year. Oregon and Stanford will still likely be 1-2 (though not necessarily in that order) in just about every pre-season prediction of the Pac-12 North.
But this is also the season UW has been building toward — a veteran team losing only four full-time starters, a softer non-conference schedule that should provide momentum heading into the conference slate, and the move into a remodeled Husky Stadium.
Expectations of UW fans and others around the program will be as high heading into 2013 as they have been in a decade. Sarkisian’s comments today indicate that he understands those expectations and is embracing them. Now the key will be to do it on the field.
Here are a few other notes from the interview. …
— UW starts spring practice next Tuesday, the earliest it has in decades, getting in six practices before taking two weeks off for finals and spring break. Sarkisian said one reason they used to start after winter quarter was to allow more time for injured players to heal. But he said that hadn’t really happened as much as they’d thought it would. He said starting earlier will allow for players who suffer minor injuries early in the spring some time to recover and then get back for the bulk of spring practice after the break. He also said it will allow some times for coaches to evaluate what they have done in the first six practices and tweak things accordingly. He also said ending spring drills a week earlier than in the past will allow for more time for coaches to recruit on the road in the April-May evaluation period.
— In talking about the offensive and defensive lines, Sarkisian said he thinks “they look a lot different” than when he arrived in terms of having more athleticism. He said adding athleticism off the edge on defense has been a real priority and that “I think we have addressed that in years past and really addressed it in this year’s class.” He also said adding athleticism has been a real key 0n the offensive line with UW being primarily a zone blocking team and needing athletic linemen who can block on the second level, meaning get out to linebackers and defensive backs.
— He also said UW has “probably had to play too many kids too young in their careers” on the offensive line, but that “the end result is that these guys should be better in the end in their junior and senior years.” He said the game experience of the past few years has been invaluable.
— Asked who would stand out if UW held something similar to the NFL Combine, he said “Greg Ducre would probably run the fastest time. He can really go.” Ducre, as we have documented on here, has been running indoor track. He also said “I’m sure Travis Feeney, Shaq Thompson would test extremely well that way. Sean Parker, Bishop Sankey, Austin (Seferian-Jenkins) would test tremendously.” He also mentioned Kasen Williams in the vertical jump and Danny Shelton’s lifting.
— Asked about the quarterback position, he said one key this spring will be making sure each of the five gets enough reps while also allowing for the offense to get the work it needs. “We’re going to have to really analyze after every practice to make sure we are giving guys enough opportunities to show what they can do but also be mindful of the entire offense,” he said. Asked about Keith Price, he said he thinks Price is excited at the opportunity “to prove to himself what he is capable of” and that he also focused his off-season conditioning on the lower half of his body “to become as explosive an athlete as he can be.”