Here's the full transcript of Steve Sarkisian's Monday press conference:
(Opening statement) "I will say I feel like the bye week was positive for us. I thought it came at a good time. I think physically for our football team, got an opportunity to get some guys healthy. Dexter Charles was back practicing today, which was big for us. But a lot of guys with just the nagging bumps and bruises looked fresh and upbeat running around today. Thought it was good, obviously it was a long month for us, thought from a psyche standpoint, thought the energy was good from the guys at practice today, and excited to go finish the season. We’re in the fourth quarter of it all now. We’ve got four football games ahead of us we feel are very winnable if we do it the right way, if we prepare the right way, and it starts this week with Colorado, a team that in my opinion is getting better. They play hard. I think Coach (Mike) MacIntyre has done a good job of changing the culture there and getting those kids to play hard. They have some good football players. Obviously the wide receiver Paul Richardson is one of the premier guys in our conference if not the country. We’re obviously very aware of their young quarterback. We recruited Sefo (Liufau) coming out of here out of Bellarmine Prep, and he’s improving weekly. It should be a great ballgame here at 5 o’clock at Husky Stadium."
(Big picture stuff during bye week?) "We definitely do a big kind of self-scout or self-analysis of ourselves in all three phases. I think it’s a great opportunity for us to look at what we do well and look at some of the things that we’re not doing so hot that we thought we were doing well, but then when you actually watch the cut-ups doesn’t look so good. Then you look at some of your personnel and who’s playing where and what and how. And then try to incorporate that in the final four games. I think that’s something we’ve definitely focused on and we should see more of that, a more productive football team based on what the numbers tell us, what the stats tell us, what the film tells us when you can look at it as a whole and not just week to week."
(What needs to change going forward?) "I don’t know if necessarily they need to change. There’s just more things to build upon. I think we have to find a way to continue to get John Ross the football. Just look at sheer numbers, when he has the ball in his hands, he creates big plays. Demore’ea Stringfellow’s another guy, and obviously Austin (Seferian-Jenkins), getting those guys to where Kevin (Smith) and Jaydon (Mickens) can be more of a factor there. That’s big. I think the reality of it defensively is continuing to incorporate some of our young pass-rushers, Joe Mathis, Marcus Farria, I think incorporating Kevin King, when he’s on the field he does good things for us. That side of it has been great. I think in the kick return game we’ve been so close, so we’re trying to tweak a couple things there just scheme-wise that I think can really help us go to the next level in the return game. Then just sheer fundamentals of how we teach and the things that we’re doing well from a tackling standpoint, from coverage standpoints on defense, to offensively the schemes that have been productive running the football and other ones that sometimes we call a lot that the numbers tell us just haven’t been very good. So those are all the things that we’re focusing on."
(Why do you think you can end the season strong?) "I’ve been talking about the maturity of this team all year long. They understand what’s in front of them. They understand there’s some unique challenges here. Each one of these games will be different, but that we’re capable of doing it. I see no reason why we won’t. I think we’re going to play great football. They’re all going to be hard. None of them are going to be easy. They’re all hard. Football’s hard. Colorado’s going to come fired up, ready to play. It’s always difficult to win at UCLA, Oregon State, and then obviously the Apple Cup. They’re going to be hard, but I just think we’ll be ready to go."
(Anything in the first eight games you were surprised you did well/not well?) "I always want us to be good at everything, first of all. You never want to say, gosh, I’m OK with us just being OK right here. I think, quite honestly, our drop-back pass game we’ve touched on has been OK. I thought we had a good week last week so I’m hopeful that improvement can stay the course. I think defensively, some of our stuff in the run game hasn’t been exactly where we want to be. I thought we’d be a little bit better at just sheerly stopping the run with some of the guys that we have. It’s been good in some games, it’s been OK in others. And then the tackling thing defensively. We’ve had some games here this season where we haven’t tackled great. And it’s a point of emphasis for us and will continue to be."
(Is it a numbers game at wide receiver with Demore'ea Stringfellow?) "I'm hopeful of that. I'm hopeful that this opportunity with Kasen going down unfortunately for us this is a great opportunity for String to step in and perform and play and do it at a high level. I think he is really capable of doing it."
(What do you need to see Saturday?) "I just want to win. I want to win Saturday and play good football. I want to take care of the ball and create turnovers and play fast and play physical and start fast and finish strong because when all those things happen that generally results in a W. We want to win. That's what I want to see. I want to play a good football game, which I think we're capable of. We're putting a gameplan together in all three phases that I think is conducive to the things that we've been doing well. Now we can really focus on and build upon here in the stretch run?"
(Is Bishop Better? How hath he improved?) "I think it's just confidence when you're a young kid, you know? It's believing in yourself that you can go make those plays. He's got extreme confidence right now, which deservedly so, he's a talented guy and he should be confident. But when you're young, sometimes you lack that. We're just trying to keep him confident because when he's running confidently he's hard to tackle. He makes a lot of people miss and he's got tremendous endurance."
"We're going to need a great stretch run out of him if we want to accomplish the things we want to accomplish here in the last four games."
(Thoughts on Sefo Liufau?) "Really good command for a freshman kid out there. It's not easy, especially when you're playing from behind in some of the games that they've been behind in since he's been in. But he doesn't panic. He competes. He plays hard. I've been very impressed?
(Dual-threat?) "He's an athletic kid for sure. Sefo was an athletic kid. He's highly competitive. He comes from a really good program here in-state. We know he'll be ready to play for sure. He's been coming to games here at Husky Stadium for a long time so he'll be fired up."
(Strengths from that team?) "They play hard. It's a credit to their coaching staff. Christian Powell is a big, powerful runner coming out of the backfield. Heavy guy. Obviously Paul Richardson, Nelson Spruce are good wide receivers for them. I think up front their defensive front there is some guys there who've played a lot of football, Juda Parker, I always screw this kid's name up but I feel bad because he sacks us every year but (Chidera Uzo-Diribe) coming off the other edge. They've got a true freshman middle linebacker who's leading our conference in tackles right now.
"They're a team that's playing hard. They're trying to find that one to get over the hump in conference play. We just got to make sure that we're not the one. We need to go out and play a really good football game, and we're going to need to. I think having a weekend where you can watch some football, we all watched the Seahawks Tampa Bay game yesterday, too, every team coaches, every team practices, every team plays, everybody wants to win. You have to perform if that's what you want to get done and luckily the Seahawks were able to get out of their with a victory yesterday and we'd like to go out and perform to where we get a victory on Saturday."
(Offensive line?) "We're getting healthy. Getting Dexter back was big. And we got some good experience for Erik (Kohler) and for James (Atoe). Having Dexter back's big for us."
(Bishop Sankey or o-line more important in running game?) "I'd like to think it's a combination of both. I think that we're blocking well. We've got good schemes. Ultimately, he's hard to tackle in space one-on-one. He makes people miss."
(How's recruiting going?) "Recruiting is an ongoing process. We got three months. Three months is like an eternity in the recruiting process. We're staying the course. I think we're on the right kids, the right type of kids, whether it's athletically or character-wise. In this day-and-age you have to ask me the firstWednesday in February nowadays. Guys commit, decommit, commit, they jump all over the place. We just want to stay the course and keep doing a good job in building relationships with the kids and their families?"
(Any changes from playing Friday, Saturday alternately?) "Not too much. Not too much. We'll tweak a few things but it will be relatively standard for us. It shouldn't affect us too much."
(Anything new on Kasen Williams?) "Nothing new right now. He's just resting."