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The full transcript of Steve Sarkisian‘s availability after Thursday’s practice:
(on being surprised at the labels being thrown on Jonathan Martin right now) I don’t know. I don’t like to talk about locker rooms and things that I don’t have real information on. All I can speak about is, I recruited Jonathan out of high school, he seemed like a good kid, and competing against him he was a really good player.
(on return of Dexter Charles on offensive line) Dexter’s back going, which is good. Obviously it’s an important piece to what we do. The continuity’s really good when it’s he and Micah (Hatchie) and Mike Criste there…it’s good to have your original five back together. But like I said earlier in the week – Erik (Kohler) got some valuable experience, James Atoe got some valuable experience – so with these four games down the stretch we’re going to need those guys at some point, so I think the experience they got was good for them.
(Is Dexter good to go for Saturday?) He doesn’t appear to be limited at all to me, so obviously we’ll watch him throughout the ball game, monitor him but he looked really good this week.
(What did you miss when he was out besides continuity?) He’s a good player. Like anything, when you lose a good football player you lose the attributes they possess. Dexter is a physical player, he’s excellent in the run game, he’s stout against the bigger defensive tackles and quicker defensive tackles that we face. We miss his talents, quite honestly.
(Do you notice that he’s a ‘kick in the butt’ kind of guy?) Oh yeah. Dexter’s got a lot of fire in his belly. I think he’s a natural leader. Even though he’s only a redshirt sophomore he’s got natural leadership skills that he not only has but he utilizes when needed.
(Has the team been able to keep the energy up all week coming back from a bye?) Without a doubt. I think the team in general, this was a really good Thursday for us. They were flying around and looked really fast today, which is what you hope to feel coming out of a bye and your speed is right where it needs to be. I also feel like our freshmen are really motivated. We looked at the film from yesterday and watched the service period . Some of those young defensive players were really flying around. We’re going to reward them this week by bringing a few of them to the hotel and putting them on the travel roster even though they are redshirting to keep them motivated. I think it’s really important for team morale.
(Any reasons why you practiced inside today?) The wind and the film and all that. It’s not supposed to be windy Saturday but there was the high wind alert coming into today and we just felt like it was the right thing to do.
(on Keith looking refreshed and ready without a wrap on his thumb) He looks good. I thought today he threw the ball exceptionally well. Sometimes coming off a bye the quarterback is maybe the one that can…of everybody else feeling fresh and getting better, that quarterback…the rhythm of throwing when you take multiple days off in a row, sometimes it takes them a little longer to get back in the groove of things. I think Keith this week has gotten better and better and better and I think today was the best day of him throwing the ball, which is a great sign.
(How does the bye affect you as a play-caller?) What I like is all the information we’re able to take in. When we did our self-analysis there after eight games. Now as a play-caller I can lean back and sit on…what is the stuff that we’re really good at and what can I lean on? Where are ways I can incorporate some guys into the offense that maybe that wasn’t happening early on? Just different things like that. I almost feel more confident about what I’m going to call on Saturday night — not necessarily based on what Colorado is. We still call the game based on what they are doing, but who we are and what we’re about and where we can be even more successful.
(Does your call sheet shrink as the season goes on?) No. Not at all. It’s the same. It’s been the same every week. In essence, the slots get wiped clean every week and we fill in the slots. What types of plays and what situations are what changes, but the volume does not.
(It looks like it’s physically gotten smaller, though) At times, it does. It has the ability to fold up, too. I think the way the system has gone it’s allowed me to, throughout the week, especially on Fridays before games in the hotel, really study the call sheet and, in essence, knowing I don’t have to look at it all the time. And I know what calls I want based on the formations we’re in or the situations. When you limit the volume some, it’s easy for me to memorize it, too. (When) there’s so much volume, now you’re hunting and looking for plays. …
(on UW’s offensive pace) I felt like there in the last little bit of stretch, we slowed down a little. We had talked about this. I felt like our actual speed, we had slowed down a little. We talked about being a little lethargic at Arizona State, maybe not appearing as fast. So I want to make sure this final month here we’re playing really fast football, and that starts with our pace, it starts with our tempo and how we’re running plays. It’s a little bit of unique challenge when you start losing a couple guys at key positions, but I think our guys are excited about the opportunity. We’re going to go fast — we’re going to go as fast as we can go — but yet be efficient and execute really well and do things the right way.
(Fourth-quarter conditioning) We talked about it again this morning, of how well conditioned we are, that this is going to be a great stretch run for us. We’ve played really good football in the second half of ballgames; I think we’re going to play great football in the second half of the season and ultimately the fourth quarter.
(What does the UW defense have to guard against facing a Colorado offense that doesn’t push the pace as much?) I don’t know necessarily (there’s) anything to guard against. One of the big things is when a team doesn’t use as much tempo, now you’re dealing with shifts and motions and formations changing from a 2-by-2 set to a 3-by-1 and the intricacies of that calls that way and the communication that’s needed in that setting. The other thing is our ability to sub now is a little bit different than before, where we were almost subbing in hockey lines. Now we have to sub based on the personnel that teams put on the field. It poses some different challenges, but one that I think we’ll handle fine.
(on scheduling with Friday game next week) We’re organized and ready for it. We’ll have a good team meeting Sunday night; one we would normally have on an early Monday morning, we’ll do that Sunday night. And then we’ll start our work week Monday as somewhat of an abbreviated Tuesday and treat it so on and so forth so that the routine remains the same for the players.
(Will you be able to watch Stanford-Oregon tonight?) Yeah. Normally Thursday’s night’s our night to relax a little bit. So I’ll be like everybody else. You guys have know me long enough: I’m a huge college football game. I love this game. That’s why I coach it. I love being part of it. It’s a great game for college football, it’s a great game for our conference. I’m intrigued. Those are two teams we’ve played and played hard and tough, so it’ll be fun to watch.
(What’s your analysis of that matchup?) It’ll be intriguing to watch Stanford’s (defensive) front, if they can affect Marcus (Mariota) some. Because when he’s comfortable, boy, he’s really, really good. I’ve said this all along: I think Oregon’s defense is really underrated. I think they’re an excellent defense. How much offense Stanford can generate against them, running the football and then play-action pass. And then I think the hidden piece of the game is special teams. Ty Montgomery’s having a great year for Stanford right now returning the ball, and then as we all know, Oregon’s got some really good returners, too. So I think there’s a lot of factors in the game that are going to be fun to watch for me, and I’ll spend the time to watch it.