Noticed Desmond Trufant hasn't been his normal, shut-you-down-from-every-corner self at cornerback for the Washington Huskies?
So has UW coach Steve Sarkisian.
On his weekly radio show Monday, Sarkisian mentioned that the sophomore from Wilson High had been trying too hard to make plays. Subsequently, he had been giving up big plays he normally doesn't.
• Trufant was on the coverage when Syracuse's Alec Lemon hauled in a 19-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of a UW win at home.
• He missed a couple of big tackles in the first half against USC – stops he normally makes.
• Last week, Trufant was the defender beaten right before half on an Arizona touchdown – Steven Threet's 20-yard pass to Mike Willie in the right corner of the end zone.
Today on the Pacific-10 Conference call, I asked Sarkisian to expand on the Trufant situation:
"I think you notice it even going back to Week 1. Tru is a tremendous football player, and we have all the confidence in the world in him, of playing not only man-to-man coverage but zone coverage, and blitzing and all the things we like to do with our (cornerbacks).
"I have an opportunity obviously to see him every day, and the way he covers in our one-on-one drills, and how physical he plays against the run. I thought at times this year where he's been pressing, and trying almost to be perfect, and doing everything the coaches have asked. That's not a bad thing. I know there is more play-making ability in him because I see it every day.
"We're just trying to get him to a point to where he feels not like he has to shoulder the burden of everybody out there on the corner, but just do his job and play football to the best of his abilities."
Other stuff from the Pac-10 call:
How critical has strength and conditioning coach Ivan Lewis been to the development of the Huskies?"Plays a huge role, one in changing not only our physical features of our returning players and incoming freshmen, but also reiterating the message as we're trying and change a mindset. What he's able to do every day with those kids, not only in the offseason but the in-season in our morning lifts is critical to our development of the program."
Why did Sarkisian hire Dan Cozzetto as the UW's offensive line coach?"I love Danny Cozzetto. I think he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our coaching staff. He's won Pac-10 championships before. He's spent time in the National Football League. He definitely brings a hard-nosed approach to our offensive-line play. And on a staff that is considerably younger, it's great to have his veteran leadership on our coaching staff."
In retrospect, thoughts about Arizona State?"I think they're a very athletic football team. I think they play hard. They're well-coached. I thought coming into our ballgame that they were a very scary football team because we knew how talented they were. Inevitably in a few of those losses, they shot themselves in the foot – whether it be with penalties, or turnovers, or the blocked extra point at Wisconsin and I was fearful they would put it all together against us, and unfortunately they did."
How good is the Oregon State offense?"It's a big matchup, because I think going in, the natural thing is you've got to stop Quizz – you need to know where No. 1 is, whether he's lined up in the backfield, whether he's at Wildcat, where they motion him out of the backfield. And obviously prior to this week, you had to know where James (Rodgers) was. And they have this addition of Markus Wheaton, so they had three real weapons going. And their quarterback, (Ryan) Katz, continues to get better and better and better, week in and week out. They are just a complete offensive football team. I think that is what the challenge is – they're not one-dimensional, they've got the pro-style runs, the pro-style passes, they've got the Wildcat game, they've got the "fly" game and then they really got the play-action pass game to throw it down the field. They tax you in all areas."
Assessment of Chris Polk's play so far?"I love Chris Polk. He's been a real competitor, and real battler for us, not only this year, but last year. He's been a guy that's brought a lot of energy to our offense, a real physical type runner and he's continued to play at a high level for us."
Why has the UW played so well one week, so poorly the next week?"Well, I think one is, that is the mystery of sports, right? No matter if it's football, basketball, baseball or whatever that may be, if there was just a formula, or a button to push, then everybody would have it, and we'd never needed to play the games – the best teams would always win.
"For us, as a football team that is learning how to win and how to deal with winning, there is that challenge, there are going to be those growing pains where you're on that little bit of that roller-coaster ride. We continually fight for that consistency, and we look for the ingredients to make that work – whether that be our preparation, our practice, our installation, our routines on Friday or Saturday, you're always looking for that right formula … to recreate that same intensity, that same energy level, that same enthusiasm and ultimately that same execution. Somewhere in there, it can get lost. If it didn't, then we'd have a bunch of undefeated teams, and obviously we don't. People get beat. People don't play at the same level as they always play. That is the challenge and the mystery for all coaches."
How big a feat would it be to go undefeated in the Pac-10?"I think it's hard. I think it's difficult. There is just not a gimme – there are no gimmes out there."