It's Wednesday, which means Washington coach Steve Sarkisian spoke with reporters after practice. Here's much of what he had to say about Stanford's defense, UW's offensive line and Bishop Sankey's durability.
(On the hype this week) "I think that’s obviously natural. When there’s two top 15 teams playing each other in a conference game and both are undefeated, I think the hype is natural for that to occur. I think the beauty of it for us is we haven't changed. We haven’t changed our approach to the ballgame, we haven’t changed the way we prepare mentally, physically or emotionally and I think that’s the beauty of this group. A lot of these guys have been in big games before, so it doesn't have to be a big game. It can be what we do every single day, the way we prepare, and then go out and ultimately perform to put our best foot forward on Saturday night."
(On gameplanning for Stanford) "Like every opponent does, they provide us the information that we have to take in and then ultimately try to chop up and then prepare ourselves for it. They’re a very good football team, they’re extremely well coached. They’re well coached in that they have unique schemes because of the run game on offense and the elaborate fronts that they play and the stunts that they use on the defensive side of the ball. They tax you that way and they’re just really well coached. They do good stuff. They’re not a gimmick group by any means. Everything they do is well defined in why they’re trying to do what they do, and at the end of the day you have to be prepared for all of it. And I think they have a lot of variety to their offense right now, they have a lot of variety to their defense, so we have a lot of information that we’ve taken in and now we have to try to chop up and get prepared for it."
(On Stanford's defensive front) "I think they’re good. First and foremost I think they’re talented guys. Like you said I think they’re extremely well coached and they have a great deal of experience. They play well with one another. All of their games that they work up front they’re in unison with one another, they have good timing with them. It’s not just that they’re stunting things inside, it’s that they have good unison and timing with what they do. I think all of that adds up to they’re a really good front seven, probably the best we’ll see all year."
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(On Trent Murphy grabbing interceptions) "What fools you is you see this big guy, tough guy, what fools you is he’s a lot more athletic than people give him credit for. You see the athleticism when people try to throw screens over his head. He jumps up and catches it. He doesn’t knock it down, he catches it."
(On Kevin Hogan) "Really talented guy. I think he has the capability to do a variety of things. He’s a big, physical guy, about 230 pounds or so, he can run the football, he has enough with his legs. He does a really nice job sometimes, almost reminiscent of Andrew Luck, and that’s a credit to David Shaw and their staff of coaching, he really attacks the line of scrimmage when they drop back to pass and when it’s not there, he runs and gets them eight, 10, 12, 15-yard gains with his legs. He obviously has the capability to throw the ball down the field when people are stepping up on the run game to take their shots and he’s accurate down the field, and I think he just has good command of what they’re doing. He’s undefeated as a starter. What can you say?"
(On Bishop Sankey in practice this week) "He’s great. I haven’t noticed a difference. That’s the beauty of Bishop, in that he doesn’t change. He just kind of shows up every day and there he is. Ideally, when I go to meet with you guys after the ballgame, I don’t want to have to look at the stat sheet with 40 carries again. But we’re going to do what we need to do to win the game."
(On Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney) "Gaffney reminds me a little bit more of Toby Gerhart, quite honestly. Big, physical runner, breaks tackles, will try to beat you up when he’s running the football. I think what’s unique is the complement they have to him with the other backs that give him a ... here comes Gaffney, boom, boom, boom, then they sub in these other two or three guys and they’re the quick scat backs that can make you miss in space. They’re a good complement in the backfield for one another."
(On Stanford receiver Ty Montgomery) "He’s playing well. Maybe the number change. He changed numbers and you have to identify where No. 7 is now. He had an opportunity in the game last year to make a couple big plays and just missed it."
(On Austin Seferian-Jenkins) "Austin’s doing a good job. The reason we run the ball well, Austin attacks the C-gap quite a bit, and to do that, our tight ends have to play well. I think Austin, I think Josh Perkins have done a nice job of that. We’ve tried to target Austin probably more so than we were a few weeks back, and we’ve just missed on a couple ones and the ones we got him on, it wasn’t maybe the best of Keith’s throws. He’s a great option for us, not only in the passing game but in the running game, and when you’re a tight end and you play over 80 snaps, I think that’s pretty special in and of itself, when you’re 275 pounds, you’re playing 80 snaps, you’re running routes and you’re blocking. So I’ve been proud of him that way."
(Are defenses attacking him differently?) "I think defenses are trying to defend the offense, really, right now, and that’s the beauty of where we’re at. We have a lot of different weapons and that’s how we wanted to become. We didn’t want to be a 1-dimensional or 2-dimensional offense, we wanted you to have to defend everybody, and I think that we’ve gotten defenses to honor everybody right now."
(On the offensive line) "I think they’ve been great. I think they’re playing really good football for us. I think they’re keeping the quarterback clean. Keith hasn’t been getting hit. I think three sacks now through four games. I think they’re coming off the football and being physical with our opponents and getting holes for the backs and I think they’ve got a great mentality. I think as much of it is physical, it’s mental, and the pride that they take in the second half of games of being the better conditioned team and being able to run the football. I think they take a lot of pride in that and it shows."
(On the o-line's conditioning) "I think it’s helpful. They go into the ballgame and they feel good at the start. But I think in the second half when defensive linemen are starting to get fatigued, they take pride in the fact that they are in great shape and they are knocking people off the football even more so than they were in the first half. When we break that run in the fourth quarter, like Jesse’s last week, and that run hits, I think they feel even more empowered, like just that moment when the defense had to take that break, they blocked it so good that there’s another big run. I think they take a great deal of pride in that."
(Special teams personnel going back to what it was?) "We’ll see."
(What does a healthy Erik Kohler add?) "Just depth. It’s a guy who’s got experience who’s played a lot of football early in his career, who’s a bright player who understands the game and it provides us a really good amount of depth if, knock on wood, one of these guys does get nicked up, we know we have a player who can do in the game and has a great deal of experience and confidence in his ability."
(Will he play?) "The game will depend."
(On defense finally playing a slower-paced offense) "Coach (Justin) Wilcox jokingly said to our freshmen, he taught them what a huddle was. These guys have been here through training camp and four games of no huddle offenses, so it was pretty funny. I think one of the keys is our ability against Stanford, they tax you physically, so that rest in between plays is critical, they give you so many different things on the offensive side of the ball that that information that you have to sort through is important for us. So that time is necessary, even if it’s just 10 more seconds, we can use those 10 seconds to collect our thoughts from the last play, gather information for the upcoming play, and then really hunker down and play good, hard-nosed, physical football."