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UW coach Steve Sarkisian after Thursday’s practice:
(on Keith Price throwing Thursday) I thought Keith was vastly improved today — much improved … I’m going to really monitor how it feels tomorrow and the how it can potentially improve Saturday, Saturday night for the game. But I was, I don’t want to say I was pleasantly surprised, but I was encouraged that he was able to go out and throw the ball the way he did.
(on cold conditions) I don’t know how much colder it’s going to get, especially at the start of this morning’s practice when he did the bulk of his work. All of those decisions and all of that will come up with the trainers and the medical staff, myself, Keith and a lot of communication, so that we put everything on the table and what the potential concerns are and how much better it can be between now and Saturday. And then what he feels like tomorrow or even later today after throwing a significant amount.
(Does emotion play a part in it for you, or are you able to be objective when assessing Keith?) No, I think I’m really objective with it. What I want to make the decision on is what’s best for our football team to give us the best opportunity to go out and play well and execute and win the game. Keith has done a lot of great things here, Cyler is going to do a lot of great things here, and whoever takes the field Saturday night, ultimately it’s going to be who gives us the best chance to be successful.
(on Wildcat with Bishop Sankey) I like it. It’s a good wrinkle. We used to use it pretty extensively at times with Chris (Polk). He had a nice feel for it. I thought it was a good changeup; it causes defenses to deploy an extra defender out of the box and gives you some better numbers in the running game. Especially when teams are playing man-to-man, it gives you a chance to remove a defender to run the ball. There’s games when it’s effective and more so than others, and there’s games when it’s more part of the game plan than others. We haven’t used it a whole bunch this year, obviously a couple times. I think it’s been effective for us, outside the communication (breakdown) on third down last week, and I think it will be effective for us.
(Any update on Timu, Hatchie, Shamburger?) Yeah, Timu’s good to go, Hatchie’s good to go, Shamburger will be good to go. So all those things are great. It’s good to have those guys.
(on Damore’ea Stringfellow) He had a great practice today, I’ll tell you what. He’s been good all week, but he was really good today. I just think with some success — when you prepare and really apply yourself and then you have some success. For two straight weeks, three straight weeks, really, coming out of that Cal game, he really started turning it on and working. And then had some success (at UCLA), and with that success for a guy like String, he’s so competitive, I think (he thought), ‘Let me try to recreate this. Let me go right back to work and fix the things I need to work on.’ He had a great week. I’m excited for him. I think he’s going to play great Saturday night.
(With so many late starts, have you guys found a formula that works for you guys on Saturdays?) I don’t know if there’s anything ideal or perfect with it. I think everybody’s excited that we’re playing Saturday night and not Friday night — at least there’s some football on during the day and not a bunch of talk shows. … It is what it is. It’s almost the norm now, quite honestly. We’ve played so many of them that I think we’re comfortable doing it. So we’ll be OK.
(on String’s touchdown and showing that kind of strength for a freshman) It shows to his strength and athleticism that that guy possesses, and then there’s other plays where he’s running by guys, running by DBs. So he’s just got a great combination of size, speed, and power. And he’s got a high football IQ. I’m fired up for him. We’ve been waiting for that, talking about it. … I feel like I’ve been talking for months about it. He just got going the right way and I think that’s just the beginning of it.
(How perplexing are the penalties this late in the year?) The thing is, I feel like when we’ve gotten them we’ve talked about them, we’ve shown example of what is and what isn’t, we’ve worked on so many things with it — we’ve gotten some odds ones. I’ve never heard of a game where three DBs get facemask penalties on pass route — not even the ballcarrier having the ball in his hands, but facemasking guys as they are trying to jam them inadvertently. So that kind of stuff is — perplexing is a great word because it’s not as if we’re hitting guys late out of bounds, we’re not roughing the quarterback – things of that nature aren’t occurring. So subconsciously our guys are making an attempt not to have penalties but we are getting inadvertent penalties. We got hands to the face, we got three facemasks on DB’s…they were trying to facemask them but when you’re physical and you’re trying to re-route a guy it happens. We’ve got to continue to coach them. Just because it’s late in the season that doesn’t mean you stop coaching stuff. We’re working on it and love to come out of this with a really clean game where we don’t get those penalties and make Oregon State earn everything they get.
(Sounds like you reached out to Pete Carroll about it?) Yeah, actually it was a few weeks back. Pete’s a great mentor of mine, and he’s always aware of those types of things. We had penalty issues when we were at SC together too. I was looking for a little bit of the magic formula here and he said, ‘Sark, I think our guys just play hard — maybe that’s why we get a few more penalties than everybody else.’ So I said, ‘OK, Coach, I appreciate it.’ (laughs)
(How did Cyler Miles look today?) I thought he was really good, was very accurate today, confident – which is where you’d like your quarterback to be whoever it is, on a Thursday. the game plan’s been installed, you’ve worked through some of the wrinkles, some of the nuances of it — here comes Thursday and you want to have a feel-good Thursday where the ball is getting thrown accurately to the right guys on time. And he did that today.
(Cyler’s talked about treating each week the same regardless of if he starts. Rare for a redshirt freshman?) I don’t think it’s unique, in a sense. Coach Tui does a great job of preaching that to our guys, because being the backup quarterback is a hard thing to do. You prepare, you’re in those meetings, the majority of film you’re looking at is of other guys throwing the ball and getting coached – so the challenge of sitting there every day and get yourself mentally prepared to play and physically prepared in practice is something that talk to. What Cyler has a good understanding of is – I’m a play away. And he prepares to be ready the next play. I think Jeff does a great job of that as well, quite honestly. He’s a guy we haven’t talked a lot about this week but he’s another guy…he’s really locked in and focused. I think if he got his opportunity he’d play pretty good too.”
(The balancing acts between going goods on goods, yet making sure everyone is healthy this late in the season) We do it, and we’ve still done it. The tempo and the speed of it all – the speed of the play, not so much the no huddle but the speed of, when that ball gets snapped, the speed of the game…I think it’s important to keep your guys up to that speed. But then you also need the work of your opponents and the nuances of their offense or defense and special teams. So we do do it, and again the balancing act of that is critical, but we do it enough to keep the spirits high and keep the competitive juices flowing.”
(Can you envision a scenario like OSU 2011 when Keith came in late?) It’s all on the table. When we get to that point we’ll try and do what’s in the best interests of the program.
(When is the earliest you’d be able to tell those guys who the starter is?) I’ll probably tell them tomorrow when they show up and after I meet with Keith and the doctors and everybody.