Quotes from Steve Sarkisian after Washington practice on Monday afternoon:
(Did you really start right away on UCLA Saturday night?) Yeah we did. As coaches we reviewed the film as quickly as we could that night and got going on UCLA first thing in the morning. The process is underway.
(How much does Myles Jack change the equation for them on offense?) He’s such a different back then what they have. The other guys are a little more quicker, more scat-back type, and Myles is obviously a very physical runner–so different style, a little different approach to tackling…but the plays are similar. They aren’t running necessarily different plays. They’ll give you different formational deals there, but he’s a physical player.
(Is he good enough to be a true two-way player?) Oh yeah. He’s definitely talented enough to do that.
(Were you surprised he was as effective as he was?) I’m not in their coaches offices, I’m not in their locker room.
(on playing in the Rose Bowl) We do have so many kids from southern California on our team. Any time you get a chance to play in front of your friends and family that’s a unique experience for them. Two, to play in the Rose Bowl in January is the ultimate goal. To get a taste of the venue during the regular season at some point in their career is really motivating, especially if you go out and you play well.
(on the schedule and practicing later on a Monday) This was kind of a Monday/Tuesday. We sped the week up a little bit. Tomorrow will be a true Wednesday format. We pushed things a little bit forward.
(on freshman Kevin King’s play Saturday) I think he played pretty good…pretty good. I think anytime you are a freshman…he got good experience. The communication factor is one of the keys when you’re back there and probably could have played (the touchdown to Paul Richardson) a little better and done a few other things a little bit better–but all in all for his first game starting…pretty good.
(Confident Will Shamburger will be back?) We’ll see. I’m hopeful. Short week, so it’s not ideal, but hopefully we can get him back.
(Shaq Thompson?) He’s good to go.
(Is this road game as much about trying to get the bad taste of the last road game out of your system?) This is about us going out and playing a really good game Friday night.
(on Jim Mora and spending time around the UW program) Jim’s a really good football coach, and as much as he was probably assessing how we do things here I was picking his brain as well. I think he’s a good football coach, he’s a good mind, and he’s got those guys playing really well–so it was a good experience for both of us, quite honestly.
(Do you still talk, or has that died down since he took the UCLA job?) I think we still talk. In this profession sometimes it’s difficult to just be buddies with guys. We’re both working hard, we’ve got jobs to do. We’re recruiting, we’re coaching, we’re trying to motivate our players. We’re not on the phone every night, but when we see each other it’s good friendly conversation.
(on the challenges UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley poses) He’s another physical guy. One thing Brett’s taken off with, doing at the end of last season and all throughout this season, is using his legs running the football. We saw it the other night against Arizona, a tremendous touchdown run. And then he’s throwing the ball down the field really well. I think it’s been impressive. Obviously the first play of the game against Arizona on the deep ball to Shaq Evans. So Brett’s a physical guy. He’s in a good system for him. I think Noel (Mazzone) does a great job of utilizing his strengths. He’s a tough matchup for sure.
(With guys like Hundley and Jack being from southern states originally, how hard is it to recruit guys from those regions in regard to weather?) If you can’t play in the rain I don’t know what’s going to happen if you get drafted by the Seahawks.
(How much were the sudden-change plays on defense a reflection of the emphasis placed on turnovers the last couple weeks?) It’s been huge. Our defensive coaches have just been hammering it home and we’ve been working it every single day. As we touched on it with the guys — the dam was getting ready to break; it was just a matter of time. And it finally broke and hopefully for the next three games we have just an onslaught on the football and continue on from that third quarter in the second half went in last week’s game of just forcing fumbles, getting interceptions, tipping passes, expecting that to happen so when the ball is in the air we make those plays and we create big plays, because they are so huge for momentum. I know we have the athletes to do it. I know we have the scheme to do it and the coaches to make it happen. So I’m excited to watch the last three weeks — I really think we’re going to get after the ball a great deal.
(Same hold true for special teams, and specifically the return game?) We’ve continually just improved, keep improving. This is a great challenge for us. UCLA is very good on special teams; Jeff Ulbrich does a nice job. We’ve got our work cut out for us in that phase of the game.
(on if Austin Seferian-Jenkins is ready to “explode”) I’d like him to. That would be great for us. To Austin’s credit, he just keeps practicing really good. And when you do things right every single day, that just becomes the habit and you go and play well. He’s played good for weeks now. He got some opportunities there in the first half (against Colorado); unfortunately, we didn’t do a whole lot in the second half just because of the way the game went, but he’ll be an integral part of this game plan.
(Something special developing between Keith Price and Jaydon Mickens?) He’s definitely a tough matchup when, 1, it’s zone coverage because he gets that ball in space and he makes people miss. And when he’s getting matched up one-on-one against safeties, he’s really good at running the seam because he’s so quick. Those balls maybe a year ago he was juggling or having a tough time catching, now he’s making those catches look routine. That was a heck of a catch the other night on the seam route down the far sideline. Hopefully we can continue to build with that. I know Keith … there is no hesitation. I don’t know if there’s a great bond, but there’s no hesitation. He’s letting it rip when he sees Jaydon’s got one-on-one coverage.
(on offensive line vs. Colorado) I thought they played well. Obviously, after every game there’s things to work on. We can look up at the scoreboard and say, Oh we played great. But there’s always things that you say, hey, we can fix that, fix this, be better at this. And we need to be that way this week for sure.
(What are those fixes after Colorado?) We had a couple communication breakdowns. One of the sacks, we lacked communication from the tackle to the tight end on the right side of the line, which caused a sack there. A couple times we (allowed) a little penetration and when we had our pullers coming around they got knocked off. So we need to be a little bit more stout at the point of attack so that our pullers can get around, because when we do we’re pretty good. And Bishop does good in space that way.
(on Marvin Hall getting the start at receiver, and Damore’ea Stringfellow) Marvin played well. Srting played well; he didn’t get the balls we would’ve liked, but (he had) three tackles on kickoff and blocked well and ran good routes. The ball just didn’t come his way. So he and Marvin will both play again; I think they’ll both play with a little more confidence now that they got to play an entire football game last week. And we’re going to need them to. With the pace we’re operating at, if that was a tighter game last week — I think we ran almost 60 plays in the first half against Colorado — if that’s a tighter game, you’re eclipsing 90, getting close to 100 plays; we’re going to need to rotate those receivers, so we’re going to need both those guys.
(Do you need to have a conversation with the team about what happened with Mickens right before halftime?) We had it right at halfitme, actually. First thing I did in the locker room was address it. Because emotions run high, and they’re going to run high Friday night. But just because your emotions run high doesn’t mean you get an excuse to make poor decisions. So we’ve got to continue to make good decisions, and hopefully that’s a valuable lesson for us to learn from.
(on offensive tackles Micah Hatchie and Ben Riva) I think they’ve done well. I don’t think Micah gets enough credit. He’s been playing left tackle for us all year and he does a great job. You’re going to give up a sack or two when you play left tackle and you throw the ball the way we do. But, all in all, I think Micah’s had a really good year for us — productive in the pass game, really productive in the run game. I think Ben as well. Those two guys are good football players, and I think it’s helpful for Micah to have Dexter (Charles) back, when you have your guy next to you. They’re an integral part to what we do. We run to that tackle area quite a bit in our offense, it’s the combination of those two guys to go with Austin … and they’ve had a good year.
(on Dexter Charles’ two penalties vs. Colorado) I think it was just him being a little overzealous. He had one jump; he had one where he knocked the guy in the back. I think he was just fired up to be back out there playing again, which, as we’ve touched on before with penalties, I’d much rather it be that way with our guys taking the field than being timid and not wanting to be out there, or uncertain. He was fired up to be out there; he settled down and was fine.
(On chance to take the “next step” as a program this week) It’s big more so than anything else (with) this month of November. This month is about the next step, quite honestly. We think we have a great opportunity to close out the season the way we’re capable of doing it, and this is the next game on the schedule to make that happen. And it’s going to be a hard-fought ballgame. That’s a good football team at UCLA; it won’t be an easy environment to play in on a Friday night, so we have to be mentally prepared for a physical football game from a physical standpoint, but also mentally — the mental toughness that’s going to be needed in this game because it’s going to go back and forth. They’re going to make some plays; they’re going to make tackles, and we have to be able to move on to that next play and stay focused on the task at hand. For us, from a next-step standpoint, it’s doing that — and it’s doing that for 60 minutes against a really good football team on the road.
(Have you done that this year?) Yeah, there’s been plenty of games where we’ve had to do it. We’ve gone into halftime in a bunch of games where it wasn’t just going easy for us. Quite honestly, we’ve played two poor quarters this season: You look at the fourth quarter against Oregon and the second quarter against Arizona State, we didn’t play very good football. In the end, that got us. The rest of the season, for the most part, we’ve been pretty good and pretty sound and done good things.
(Has the bubble screen become your go-to play?) No. I just think we’ve done a good job, and our offensive staff does a good job, of recognizing when we have a play we like, and we feel like the adjustment isn’t quite there from the defensive side, we’ll keep running the same play. There’s no rule that says you can’t. We did it with Illinois with a running play for seven consecutive plays; we’ve done it with the bubble screen. It is productive for us, especially when a guy like John Ross is getting the ball in his hands in space and make people miss. But, again, we’re just trying to find formations and plays that look good and work, and force the defense to make adjustment, and make sure that we have a counter to their adjustment when they do make it. It’s a credit to our offensive staff and the communication on the headsets to make it happen.