A transcription of Steve Sarkisian's postgame comments after Washington's 27-17 victory over Washington State.
(Opening statement) "I’ll say first of all, I’m proud of our team. You get in these games, you get in rivalry games and you never know how it’s going to go. You think, well, first quarter, and that’s just how it’s going to go and the game goes on. It was hard. We were very, very choppy offensively in the first half. We were so inconsistent on third down, and uncharacteristic of us. I think we were 1 of 6 in the first half on third down. And just weren’t in rhythm. we couldn’t quite get in rhythm. I thought defensively we just kind of hung in there and guys did a good job of keeping us in the game and what’s been indicative of this team all year long is our ability to come out in the third quarter, make really good adjustments. The team remained focused and we played an awesome third quarter and to get the 17 points, to do what we were doing defensively getting stops, the offensive found their rhythm.
"The guys just played tremendous in the second half. It was a great game, and obviously to cap it off there at the end, tremendous interception by Greg Ducre, which is challenging because WSU’s going to keep throwing the ball at you. It’s hard on the corners because we had a good beat on what routes were coming but it’s hard to keep your hands off them and make your plays when you know what’s coming. But it was a great play by Greg and then the guys offensively going and capping it off and finishing the thing off there with the last drive.
"I’m proud of our guys. I’m proud of our seniors. As I just got done telling them, they chose to come to the University of Washington when this might not have been the hottest school in our conference or in the country to come play at. We were talking about getting a new stadium. We were talking about getting a new facility. We were talking about where we were headed and what we were going to go do. These guys chose to come here and they came here and put investment into this program for the last four or five years and their investment has paid off. They’re walking out of here knowing that this football program is in a better place today than it was when they got here, and that’s a real credit to those guys and the work they put into it. I’m happy for them they’re going to their fourth consecutive bowl game. I’m happy for them they’ve been a part of a team that’s gotten better, from five wins to seven wins, now eight win, and hopefully a ninth, because those guys, they’re the catalyst for what we’ve done here. And I’m proud of the fact that they were able to walk out of here as a winner their last time at Husky Stadium, because I know it means a lot to them."
(On getting past seven wins) "I’m happy about it that you guys don’t ask me about it anymore, quite honestly. It wasn’t a big deal to me in that it was the number, I’m just tired of answering questions about it, quite honestly. We’re a better team today than we were a year ago, and a year ago we were a better team than we were the year before that. Sometimes games go the way they go and you don’t get the call or you don’t get the catch or you make one bad call as a coach. But that doesn’t mean you’re not a good football team or you’re not a better team than you were the year before. We’re a good team. We play hard. We’ve been playing hard all year. We’ve had three lousy quarters quite honestly this season. But outside of that our guys have played good football. We haven’t been perfect, but we’ve played good, we play hard, we’ve got good leadership. And I’m excited about the opportunity to play another game with this group, because I think they’ll go out and perform, they’ll prepare great and they’ll go out and perform, and I’m excited about the future of this program with where we’re headed."
(When did you know Keith Price would start?) "I thought he threw really good on Thursday. Thought he threw really, really good Thursday. Clean, efficient, threw the ball with conviction, and I thought for the most part he threw the ball well tonight. I thought the first half, these Senior Night games, I remember Matt Leinart’s senior game, we were playing UCLA and he started tearing up in the tunnel and gosh the first half was hard against UCLA in that game for him. I think the first half was just hard for Keith. There’s so much going on. He’s coming off an injury, he didn’t play last week, he wants to play great. He was just a little bit off. Not so much physically, he was actually off a little mentally, and boy he really regrouped there in the second half and did some good stuff, made some great throws. The touchdown throw to Austin to give him an opportunity on that play a couple throws to Damore’ea (Stringfellow) and then obviously capping it off with a nice zone read there with the nice touchdown run. It’s been a great journey for Keith. I think the last five years of his life are going to shape him for the next 60-70 years of his life. He’s been through a lot. He’s been through a lot physically, he’s been through a lot emotionally. But every time, that guy, he’s got tremendous character. He stands tall and he doesn’t waver. He never points the finger. We’re proud that he’s our guy. We get one more opportunity to go take the field with him. I think he’ll play like he did in the second half and just kind of build and take off."
(Was there any doubt he'd come out better in third quarter?) "I don’t know if doubt’s the right word. As a coaching staff and as a head coach, you play out scenarios in your mind. And I try to do my best at that regardless if it were Keith or any other player, I’m trying to play out scenarios. It was just kind of getting the feel. I knew we were kicking off to Washington State, I was, OK, are they going to get three, are they going to get seven, are we going to get a turnover. You just try to play out scenarios at halftime so that you go out and put your best foot forward and go out and play a really good third quarter. Sure enough we came out and played a good third quarter I don’t know if doubt was the right word but you try to speculate as best you can, and they put any of my potential speculation to rest, and I think Keith did by the way he played the third quarter."
(On emotions for Price before the game) "I think it was just an emotional time. When I took this job that was the first guy I went to go see. Shoot, this program was 0-12. at that time he was questioning is this the right thing when you’re getting recruited by the Oregons and ArizonaStates of the world and you could go do that. So he entrusted a lot in me and it’s been a long journey. You talk about you’re replacing Jake Locker and all the lore and the greatness that Jake did for this program. Then you have a tremendous sophomore year, and you come back your junior year and you’re fighting injuries and it doesn’t go he way you’d hoped it’d go. You come back your senior year and he’s having a great senior season, he’s playing efficient football, and bang, you get hurt. You miss a game and a half of conference play. And then you’re healthy enough to go play your final game, it’s the Apple Cup, it’s Husky Stadium, it’s senior day. There’s so much emotion that goes into it that I don’t blame him for feeling a little kind of antsy or out of sorts. But he really did a nice jo of being a fifth-year senior, settling himself down and playing a nice second half of the game."
(On Bishop Sankey) “He’s a stud. He’s a stud. I know you guys do a great job of covering us and building him up. He deserves so much recognition nationally and in our conference. The guy is unbelievable. He just … 34 carries, 200 yards tonight, another 40 receiving. I think he’s over 1,700 yards now on the season. He’s got the career touchdowns record, the single-season rushing record with another game to go. I’m glad he did it in 12 games so that people don’t try to say well he did it in 13. he did it in 12 and now he can build upon it in the 13th game. He’s a great kid. He comes to work every single day. It’s not about the flash. He’s never going to stand up in front of anybody and boast about himself. It’s going to be about the guys around him and the process and his coaches. But somebody has to boast about him so I will. He’s an absolute stud. I’m hopeful that he gets the recognition he deserves."
(Do you have to re-recruit Sankey and Austin Seferian-Jenkins?) "I’ll never recruit them. I’m going to sit down with them and that starts Monday. We’re going to put everything on the table about the process. I’m here, like I’ve told them from the very beginning, I’m here to educate them on the process, I’m here to be an ear for them and what their concerns are, what their goals are, and we’ll go through it so that at the end of the day when they make their decision, whether it’s to stay at the University of Washington for another year or go to the NFL, it’s a very educated decision. It’s not emotional, it’s not one that you’re listening to some guy on the street telling you you should go or you should stay or all that. It’s going to be an educated decision so everybody involved feels great about what they’re doing, whether it’s to stay here for another year or go on and play in the National Football League. We’ll get to that point. They’re both really bright kids. It’ll be very clear to them at the end whether it’s to stay or to go. And we’ll get to that point."
(On third-down screen that gained 40) "Huge play. Huge play. Start of the third quarter we’re in a third and long and it was a nice job by everybody involved. Nice job by the coaches at halftime. That was something we had talked about at halftime, hey, first third and long we get, let’s go to that screen play based on what we were getting from WashingtonState. I didn’t anticipate that first third and long being the first third down of the third quarter, but sure enough it showed up then. We had been struggling on third down in the first half. It was really good execution. Bishop obviously made his plays and had just a really kind of grind it out second half. The yards weren’t easy. WashingtonState was playing tough up front but he just found his niches, found his holes and just played a tremendous football game."
(On Sankey needing 30 yards to break record and getting them on one possession) "I really didn’t even know quite honestly. I didn’t know. You guys know me well enough, I don’t think about that stuff and I haven’t. nor does he, quite honestly. If the record was meant to happen, it was going to happen, and it was going to happen because of us just doing what we do and playing the way we’re capable of playing. It was never an intent to try to get him a record today. The intent was to win the game. We were able to win the game. We got the most important stat, and that was a W, and along the way he got a couple really cool records that he gets to hold onto for a while."
(On John Timu's targeting penalty) "First of all the play was just frustrating because there were three guys there -- no offense to Connor (Halliday), he played a terrific game and competed his tail off -- the pass looked like a punt. It was kind of in the air forever and there’s a linebacker, a safety, another linebacker and everybody’s there and their kid jumps up and makes a heck of a play and Timu went in to make a hit on the ball and jar the ball loose. He never led with his head. It wasn’t helmet to helmet contact. That was the initial call, that it was helmet to helmet. I thought the officials did a nice job of going to review and still ruling it a penalty but not ejecting him from the game for helmet to helmet, because that isn’t what happened. It was shoulder to shoulder."
(How is Shaq Thompson?) "He’s OK. He got a concussion on the opening kickoff of the second half."
(On bowl scenarios) "We’ve got time. Wherever they send us, we’ll go play and we’ll prepare and we’ll do a great job. I think for us right now it’s about hitting the road recruiting as coaches and for our players it’s about finishing off this quarter really well, doing great in school. So that’s where our focus shifts now here for the next couple weeks."