Washington linebackers coach Peter Sirmon talked to the media after Tuesday’s practice. Here’s what he had to say:
(on going forward) We just have to keep believing in what we’re practicing. Success helps build up what we’re doing on the field in practice.
(on the mood of the defense after Saturday) I think we’re a little salty. I think guys came out to practice today with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder — which you would expect. I think they prepared well the last few weeks and I know last week we didn’t have the results that we wanted. It’s not going to change our mental approach to the game. We coach better, you execute better, you have to get the guy on the ground and you have to play with more of a sense of urgency.
(How hard is it to swallow the missed tackles?) It’s tough. That’s something that has nothing to do with schematics. It’s getting off blocks if you’re a linebacker and tackling the guy with the ball. It’s a simple idea, not always easy to do. We just have to do a better job of getting the guy on the ground. We’re there to make contact; now we’ve just got to finish the play.”
(on practicing tackling more) I don’t know if I can practice tackling any more. Every day we practice tackling. For our group we’re just going to continue to practice the fundamentals of tackling. We have different situations and different kinds of tackles that we execute. There hasn’t been one day since I’ve been the linebackers coach here where we haven’t had some kind of practicing when we have pads on. So we have to keep getting better at it, keep executing it and grabbing cloth and getting them on the ground.
(on the differences between ASU and Cal) That’s the challenge of this conference. You went from Arizona to Stanford to Oregon to Arizona State to Cal and they all do such different things well. Offensively they work on what they want to work on every week. They get better over time. We have to continue to adapt to what we have to stop every week. It’s a little more of a difficult process to put that cumulative effect – eight consecutive weeks of playing the same thing.”
(Where is the conditioning with your guys right now?) We’re in good shape. Our linebackers feel it because they are also the core special teams, so they run down on kickoff return and punt return and they get a drink of water and we try and make some adjustments and they go back out to the field. So that’s where get some additional plays. Shaq (Thompson) played 53 plays. He can handle that. We weren’t outrageous on the number of defensive snaps, so we need to get more juice out of them when they are out there.
(on getting John Timu back for Cal) We’ll see what he can do in practice. We’re hoping to get him back, it would be a great luxury to have him. He does a great job of getting us lined up and communicating. So we’ll see how he progresses throughout the week.
(on Monday being a day for soul-searching) I don’t know if soul-searching, but it’s a time to reflect and make sure we have the right energy and the right focus for the final few games of the season — make sure that we’re in the right frame of mind.
(What was your message to your guys yesterday?) We’ve just gotta keep applying the things we do every day. We need to see them on the game film. We’re preparing, we’re tackling, we’re getting off blocks in individual (drills) that we’d like to see show up on game day and we’ve just got to stay true to the preparation and then we need to see the results on Saturday afternoons.
(How do you balance remembering the lessons of what happened the week before with the idea of forgetting it and moving on?) I really want to move on. I don’t want them to hold anything from the previous week — the same if we win. We still have go out there and battle for the next opportunities. I try and have those guys treat wins and losses just the same. Wins don’t help you; it’s still 0-0 the next time you go out there to kick it off, and when you lose it’s still 0-0. So it’s a fine line. The quote I use is, “Success and failure are both impostors.” It’s a team game, and you could play great on defense and maybe you lose or you could play terrible on defense but maybe you win. We have to treat both the same and we have to be diligent and have confidence in our preparation.
(You said the team was salty today; does that necessarily bode well for a great week of practice, or is that just residual frustration from Saturday?) I’d hope they come out salty every week. We can’t be focused on the result, as hard as that is. That’s the easiest thing to be focused on. I use the analogy of a test; if I go fail a test on Friday it’s probably not because I performed poorly on Friday. It’s because I didn’t prepare throughout the quarter for that final exam. So we have to go back and examine how we’re preparing to get these guys ready so when the test gets presented to them they know the information and they can go out and execute what they’ve learned.”
(Based on Saturday, do you feel like that kind of result means radical change?) I feel good about how we’ve been preparing. I personally have a lot of conviction about what we’re doing in my room. I think that’s the right way to do it. I’ve been fortunate to be in the NFL and be around several other programs and I think I’ve taken something positive from every one of those situations and I think we do that every week. These guys need to perform better, but I have a lot of conviction in how we’re preparing.