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Highlights from Steve Sarkisian‘s Monday press conference:
As I was Saturday night, I feel the same here Monday at noon — really proud of our football team and effort that they played with. I thought that our guys fought and competed extremely hard against an excellent football team … and they battled until the very last play. I couldn’t be more pleased as the head coach when your team plays that way in a game where you play with a great deal of adversity. …
That being said, there’s still the disappointment when you don’t win. There’s no awards for losing. We have to get back to the grind, and we obviously have a tremendous challenge this week with Oregon coming to town and all of the things they do so well in all three phases of the game. We have our work cut out for us, but we’re excited for the opportunity to show what we’re made of. I think this team is going to respond extremely well. They had a tremendous attitude yesterday, a great attitude today. They practiced their tails off this morning already. We understand the excitement that will be in the air Saturday for the first time ever ESPN “GameDay” is coming to our campus. I think that’s a real tribute to our program and this university and an opportunity for us to showcase our university. We’re excited for our fans to have that opportunity Saturday morning, then show up and do their part at 1 o’clock Saturday with the “Blackout” and all those things that are going on with the ballgame. … It’s an opportunity for us to show what we’re really made of and the mentality and the maturity of this football team.
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(on eliminating distractions this week) I don’t think we have to change. We’ve been talking this way from the beginning of zero distractions. We’ve been faced with numerous ones already on a variety of fronts, and I think our kids have done an excellent job of staying focused on what they need to focus on, and this week’s no different. Obviously, there’s plenty of things we could get distracted by, but if today was any indication of will we, it was awesome. They were great. …
(on Kevin Smith’s overturned catch vs. Stanford and Stanford’s “fake” injuries) My take doesn’t change a whole lot of Kevin’s play afrer looking at the film. I think it was a very difficult call to make at the moment of the call. It was ruled a catch, and I accepted the fact that it was ruled a catch. If they had ruled it incomplete, I would have accepted that it was ruled incomplete. But it was ruled a catch, so we went with the call. We had the explanation from the Pac-12: using the same video we saw from the JumboTron (at Stanford Stadium), the back angle that the ESPN shot was, it was conclusive that it was not a catch. I disagree, but that’s not my opinion. I don’t think that was conclusive, but I’m not an official. I’m a football coach, so my opinion varies in importance when it comes to those things.
As far as the injuries are concerned, we saw what we saw, and I’m going to leave it at that.
(On Keith Price and his injured thumb) He practiced. Monday’s are typically a light day for any of our starting quarterbacks in years past, but Keith was out there. I think he’ll be fine come Saturday.
(general health) We looked good. Everybody practiced. Again, knock on wood, I don’t know if it’s our conditioning or whatever it may be, but we’re in great shape. I thought we looked in awesome shape in the second half. I thought we were really well-conditioned football teamd and we came out of it today, our entire roster was back on the field.
(on special teams) A couple things. For one, credit Stanford. They did a good job with their schemes and they have a tremendous returner with Ty Montgomery. A couple of the breakdowns were execution points to where we just didn’t execute the coverage lanes the way we’re capable of, so we went right back to it today — it was the first thing we did in practice, was working on how we take on those blocks in covering kickoffs, whether we use it with speed or power, and how we ‘fit’ returns. We can execute better, but we need to coach it better to make sure that that can happen. It was a big point of emphasis of ours and will continue to be until we get to a point where we feel comfortable with it.
(need drastic changes on special teams?) Subtle changes in scheme, but nothing extremely drastic. I think we can kick the ball better than we did. The only reason I say that is because I’ve seen him (Cameron Van Winkle) kick the ball better than that, in worse conditions here at Husky Stadium. And I think we can cover better than that. But, again, we have to coach it better to make that happen.
(other options as the kickoff specialist) We did make the switch to Travis (Coons) at the end (vs. Stanford). Obviously, the other option we tried to utilize, the pop-over kick, and didn’t execute that one great either. So we have to spend more time on it.
(on evaluating the team after a loss?) The same as a win. We evaluate the film, we evaluate our performance. We grade every player on every snap. We come together as a team and Monday mornings we get to the truth of what really occurred in the ballgame. We go through what, in our opinion, are the winning stats in the game and our winning formula … and then we turn the page. We learn from our mistakes, we try to build on our positives and we move on. This week more so than ever. It’s such a drastic change in philosophy, when you go from a Stanford to an Oregon, you don’t have too long to dwell on Stanford and that ballgame. We have to learn from it, but we have to get ready for a completely different style in Oregon this week.
(any major changes at Oregon with transition from Chip Kelly to Mark Helfrich) Not major, no. There’s some little subleties there. But they go fast and they execute really well. They have premier speed on the perimeter, whether it’s at running back or wide receiver, and obviously Marcus (Mariota) is playing at such a high level at running back, whether it’s throwing it or running it. They look very similar that way. They look like a dynamic team that can hurt you in all three phases.
Note: I’ll update more video soon.