Steve Sarkisian has a rule that his players have 24 hours following a game - win or lose - to think about it before putting it behind them for good. But it was clear during Monday's press conference that Sarkisian was still irritated by the 44-14 loss to Arizona on Sunday.
"It was a disappointing loss versus Arizona," he said. " When you look at the ball game, you can't have five pass interference penalties, some critical ones on third down. You can't have four sacks. You can't fall behind 30-14 in the first half and expect to win. We're a better football team than that. We'll play better than that. We'll continue to work at it. We've been here before; we've been knocked down before, and we'll get back up."
Why does he have that belief? Well, perhaps because the Huskies have done it before. They have not lost back to back games this season. Of course, they haven't won back to back games either.
"I touched on it early on," he said. "If I could use one word to describe this group, it's resilient. I think we've got big hearts. I think we play the game hard; it wasn't a lack of playing hard versus Arizona. So the challenge of getting back up, we understand that - but we have to perform better than we did. Myself included. We've got to perform better."
Obviously Sarkisian answered plenty of questions about Jake Locker's health and status for Saturday's game with Stanford.
"He was better than he was last week," Sarkisian said of Locker's postgame healthy. "We foresee him practicing earlier in the week than he did last week to get him a few more reps."
"We'll monitor him, see how sore he is and where he's at. He'll play Saturday."
Locker is being bothered by a myriad of bumps and bruises.
"He's got general soreness," Sarkisian said. "He's still got the thigh bruise, which obviously limits some of the running, the explosiveness. He's got some sore ribs that has caused him some issues. Those two things can factor in when it's time to run and time to flush out of the pocket and make your plays."
But when asked if Locker had a broken rib, Sarkisian said quickly: "No."
When asked about not playing Locker in the future, Sarkisian said quickly, "No."
So is there anything that would lead to Locker not playing?
"If I don't think Jake gives us the best chance to win," Sarkisian said.
But while Locker obviously gives the Huskies the best chance to win, his maladies did cause Sarkisian to adjust his play calling considerably.
"As much as I am a play-caller, I’m the head coach of all these guys not just Jake Locker," he said. "These are my kids. These are my guys. I love everything they give us. I love the fact that they come to work every day. But ultimately as much as I want them to perform and to play well, I want them to be healthy. I want to make sure I don’t expose them to things that could further injure them. I wasn’t going to do that with Jake. I wasn’t going to put him out there and run him in between the tackles and take hits he didn’t take. That’s not the reason we lost the game."
Some people might say the struggling defense was more at fault. It would be tough to disagree with. UW was gashed by a back-up quarterback Matt Scott and the Wildcat offense.
"Well, I thought they'd played well for the six quarters leading up to the Arizona game," he said. "I knew we'd have some inexperience. I looked on the field one snap on Saturday and we had four true freshman on the field together running around, so we're living with some of those growing pains. I just think for some of our guys it's getting used to playing more and we've got to fight this injury bug. We've got some guys nicked up on the defensive side of the ball that can cause some issues for us. And our young guys, we've just got to continue to get them to grow, and then help them especially on the perimeter when we get put in one-on-one matchups on the fade routes."
Cornerbacks Quinton Richardson and Desmond Trufant haven't exactly been world beaters thus far. Sarkisian was asked how a position of strength preseason could stumble so far in the season.
"I don't who said they were a strength," he said. "But I think that 'Tru' has progressively gotten better, and I think Quinton, at times, has gotten better. The unfortunate thing for us has been when the ball's in the air we have a tendency to panic right now. And we don't need to. They are better players than that, and I see it every day in practice. So it's going a real confidence issue with our guys and a belief issue that when the ball's in the air to make their plays because I know they are capable. And we can help them more from a call standpoint, playing more cloud coverage to help them there."
Is that a reason for the PI calls?
"Well, I think some of that might be, and I think some of that are calls that have been made that I don't agree with," he said.
Sarkisian wouldn't elaborate on which calls.
On the injury front ... Sarkisian expects LB Victor Aiyewa (knee sprain) to play this weekend, and said that DT Cameron Elisara would likely be out because of the continuing problem with stingers. Sarkisian wouldn't discuss any changes to the offensive line. But freshman Erik Kohler did play late in the game against Arizona, and seems to be recovered enough from mono to be working back into the mix.