Huskies Insider Blog

Bottom line for Huskies: Do whatever it takes to slow Oregon's tempo

Kelly audio (11-02)

Of course by now, it's Tuesday. Steve Sarkisian has consulted Lane Kiffin on a few matters about the Oregon offense.

Kiffin's USC team hung around on Saturday before running out of gas, and dropping a 53-32 decision to the No. 1 Ducks in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

What is the one piece of advice Kiffin is emphasizing this week as the Huskies prepare to take on Oregon on Saturday at Autzen Stadium?

"Told him to slow the game down," Kiffin said, "because they are so unique."

Kiffin said after facing Oregon's offense, which leads the country in scoring and total offense, he is convinced it is as good as any he's ever faced.

"Our years here, we haven’t played a better offense than that. Not only do they have speed, but a unique system – one that can put up a ton of points, and a ton of yards," Kiffin said. "It will be very difficult for someone to stop them."

Washington State coach Paul Wulff said he reminded his team of two keys all week in facing the Ducks back in October.

"Play fairly simple schemes, and stay mentally strong enough to stay with the pace for four quarters," Wulff said.

Here is the transcript of Sarkisian's conference call with reporters:

What are the challenges facing Oregon?"Well, I think more than just some, they pose a lot. The natural thing is to start on offense, and their ability to create the tempo they create. With the tempo comes – 1, They are executing at a very high level, and 2, They can wear you down through fatigue. They’re in great shape. And with the fatigue can come big plays. Other challenges they obviously pose are a defense that is a very aggressive defense. They love to pressure and create a lot of turnovers. And the third real factor is on special teams, and what they do in the punt return game, the kick return game and they’re excellent it. The fourth and maybe the biggest challenge of them all is going to play at Autzen Stadium, a very hostile environment.

Is facing a No. 1 team intimidating at this juncture?"I don’t think that really matters. This is our sixth or seven ranked opponent this year. We played them last year as a ranked opponent. More importantly for our program right now is focusing on us, and not necessarily the Oregon Ducks."

What is the process of nursing Jake Locker back to full health?"Well, he’s got a broken rib. The therapy factor there is one to try and eliminate any back spasms that can occur because it’s trying to protect the rib. But ultimately that thing has just got to heal. In a perfect world, we get to have him back for our final three ballgames – UCLA, Cal and Washington State. But that remains to be seen. We’ve got to see how he responds."

How has backup Keith Price developed since he's been at the UW?"Keith has really developed in the time we’ve had him here in two years. He is a kid that’s got a really natural release – a quick release. He’s an extremely elusive young man. He’s got suddenness – I don’t know if he’s the outright fastest kid in the world, but he’s got the nice quickness and suddenness to him. And he brings a real presence. He’s a kid that is happy-go-lucky, and confident in his abilities and I think our kids respond to that extremely well."

What a great place for Price to make a debut?"Yeah it will be. This will be the second time we’ve had a kid making his first career road start at Autzen Stadium. The one before this was Mark Sanchez (at USC). Hopefully the end result of all this is that Keith’s career can turn out like Mark’s."

What is the primary challenge in starting a No. 2 quarterback?"Yeah, the biggest challenge is within the game. As a backup quarterback, you’re going to make some plays, you’re going to have some plays and you’re going to have some success. It’s your dealing with the non-success – the potential sack, the potential turnover, the potential missed touchdown pass in the red zone, and how they respond because they haven’t had to respond to that yet. That is one of the big things I like to look for as the game goes on with a guy making his first start – or two, or three starts – to see how they respond to those things, and to get them right back focused at the task at hand, and that’s the next series."

Would it be better to play a backup with more game experience?"Well, I guess there are two parts to that. One of the beauty of having a guy who‘s never played before is he doesn’t know any different than to just go out and play. He hasn’t had to deal with any of their failures, so he can go in a little bit more open-minded and with confidence. Sometimes the guy who’s the experienced backup means he might not be a good starter, and he’s failed at times and can struggle at times. There’s two sides of looking at that."

Are you where you thought you'd be in rebuilding the Huskies in your second season?"I think we obviously have high expectations around here. This program is a storied one with great tradition, great history and tremendous players. I’ve always felt it’s a little easier to get back to the top, or get back to where you feel you’re supposed to be when you’ve been there before. This program has been there before with the national championships, Rose Bowls, Pac-10 championships and what not.

"But there are obviously deficiencies we’ve had to fill. Up front, on both sides of the line of scrimmage has been an area where we’ve had to continue to recruit, and we’re going to have to continue to recruit to develop the depth that’s needed to really be successful in this conference. So many teams in this conference really rely on running the football, in their own ways of doing that, and you’ve got to be able to run the football, and you’ve got to be able to stop the run, and that starts all up front."

How much longer will it take to restore the UW to contender status?"I’m not putting a timetable on it. I think we’ve made some real strides. We’ve won some tremendous ballgames. I look at the three team we’ve beaten this year – a 6-2 Syracuse team, a USC team that has two games in the last second … and Oregon State team who is 3-1 in our conference. We’ve beaten very good football teams. The challenge for us is to fight for consistency, because we need to be consistent. Our margin for error isn’t as great as some other program, so we have to find a way to play at a consistent level so we don’t let games get out of hand like we have this year."

How much is Arizona or Stanford a model for rebuilding a program?"You know, I have assessed them. Because I think in some ways, they are a good model of how they stuck to their plans. I think both programs believed in their schemes, believed in their systems, believed in their coaches, and stuck to it. Maybe they didn’t win all the games they wanted to in years Nos. 1, 2, 3 or 4, or whatever they may be, but they stuck to their systems, and their schemes and they recruited to those schemes.

"Now you’re looking at a Stanford team that’s a big power football team – tight ends, and a really big football team and they play the way they play, and are real successful at it. Look at Arizona being multiple, doing a lot of the spread stuff, the zone-read and a lot of wide receivers, and get into the two-back and run the ball the way they do. To me, what is impressive about it is they stuck to their plan, and didn’t get knocked off course because they didn’t win as many games as they wanted to early on.

"For ourselves here, it just kind of shows, keep doing what you’re doing, believe in what you’re doing and you’ll get there."

** TUESDAY PRACTICE REPORT (filed by Ryan Divish): Sarkisian worked as the scout team quarterback during some of the team periods against the first team offense.

"How'd I look?" he said. "I had good tempo."

But he also had a few turnovers.

His favorite target was walk-on Din Kuses of Edmonds-Woodway. The two hooked up on a handful of passes.

Sarkisian didn't wear a yellow jersey, but no one was hitting him.

"I thought about it," said defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu. "But I didn't want to have to run extra after practice."

Greg Christine worked at right guard and Cody Habben at right tackle.

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