Huskies Insider Blog

Full transcript of Steve Sarkisian's Monday press conference

Opening statement:

"In a quick review of last week's ball game, the obvious frustrations and disappointments kind of remain true Sunday after looking at the film and assessing the game in all three phases. Because I really do believe that our team played hard. They played with great effort. They really tried and wanted to do well. Unfortunately, Oregon State made plays. They made some real plays, and our inability to make plays at critical moments I thought were key factors in the game - especially middle-to-late third quarter into the fourth quarter. That's when the ball game was really decided. For whatever reason that occurred, we have to get back to the point of believing in our abilities to make those plays - and that starts with me, from a motivational standpoint, from a belief standpoint. And that will be one of they key challenges for us as we move forward into this week in the Apple Cup versus Washington State. I was proud of the effort from our guys; I was proud of the way they prepared. We just have to do a better job of coaching and ultimately executing at critical moments. When opportunities came our way, we weren't able to capitalize, and when opportunities came Oregon State's way, they were able to capitalize. And so that, to me, the focus has to be...forget about the position coaches and everything else...that's on me and our guys' believing in their abilities and their ability to make plays. I've seen these same guys make plays earlier in the year, and we have to get back to that. So that's the challenge for us within the next five days, to make that happen Saturday versus Washington State.

"As far as the Apple Cup, as you guys know I love the pageantry of college football, and to play in a rivalry football game like this against Washington State is exciting and fun. We'll embrace it all the way to the full-tilt. It's a unique opportunity in the fact that this will be our first game at Century Link Field, where we'll be play our entire 2012 season, so I know there's some excitement there for our football team, as well as playing our rivals. Obviously there's a lot of bragging rights involved and different things. It's great for the fans and households get split and all that stuff. That's what makes college football so special this time of year. So we're excited about that, and we're excited about the fact that as a team that come Saturday, hopefully around 8 o'clock, we finish our third regular season together with the best record we've had in three years together at the end of the regular season. To go from 5-7 to 6-6 and then ultimately 7-5 in year three is an exciting prospect for us, and I know it's one our guys are really trying to get done."On Washington's State's defense:

"They are much more consistent. In year's past they've struggled with some injuries and they've had to shuffle fronts and different things. The consistency is there; they are believing in their scheme, and some of those young kids are growing up - I think is the biggest difference."

On WSU's offense with Marshall Lobbestael, as opposed to without him:

"The scheme hasn't changed. I think when you look at Washington State this year, arguably the best football they've played this year is with Lobbestael at quarterback. And so, their schemes aren't going to change; it's the guy throwing the ball and making it happen, and Marshall has really had a tremendous season, especially early on when he was playing. I don't see a big difference in their style of play. I just think the guy who is back there throwing the ball is doing it with confidence. Fortunately for Washington State, they've had three guys that are capable and that have gone in and been able to play for them; unfortunately they've been faced with the injury bug similar to what we've had at the quarterback position that can affect the continuity of the football team. Marshall is extremely capable to come in and do some great things for 'em here Saturday because he's shown it early in the season."

On the depth chart changes this week:

"Well, I think Danny Shelton's earned the opportunity to start for us. He's played really well the last two weeks, so we're giving Danny the opportunity. The (Nate) Fellner at safety is really because of injury. We just don't know where (Will) Shamburger is yet with the stinger, andJustin Glenn with the concussion. We think they'll both be back, but to what degree we're not sure. And Nate played a pretty good game the other night. Felt his presence out there. At guard, obviously, with (Colin) Tanigawa going down with the ACL, the natural thing right now, before we go to practice, is Nick Woodslides in at that left guard spot; I thought he played admirably the other night against Oregon State. But there are some other opportunities for guys that could step in and play. This is Monday of a game week coming off of a pretty physical game. And I think the only other couple real change is (Andrew) Hudson and (Josh) Shirley both rotating at the defensive end spot, and just where James Johnson is with the injury, I mean,Kasen (Williams) has been a starter for us for a couple weeks; it just seems right to list him as a starter rather than the "or.''

On if there are other optionss on the line, such as moving Erik Kohler to guard:

"Definitely. You're right on it. That's definitely something we could do and we have to look at this week, is move Erik into the guard spot and play Micah (Hatchie) out at tackle. So we've just got to take a look at our options and how it looks and what it feels like.''

On how Hatchie played Saturday:

"He's young. Redshirt freshman. The experience comes. That was a tough task last week with (Scott) Crichton coming off the edge; he's a good player. I thought Micah did some really good things. He generally does better in the games we've put him in - now he's gone against Nick Perry and Scott Crichton, two of the probably better pass rushers in our conference. As the game wears on, he gets better as the game goes on. We've got to figure out if we're quite ready for him to play 80 to 85 snaps or if he's still a possible 35-40 snap guy, if that's how he performs better.

OnTanigawa's injury

"The MRI is actually in 20 minutes, and we'll be able to actually truly confirm it. But our doctors, and we've got some pretty good ones, are pretty clear that's what it is.''

On if Keith Price will start:

"Yeah, Keith will start. He came back, looked good yesterday, just got knocked down a couple times there. One of the keys for Keith is the longevity of the game, and that was one of the reasons we decided not to start him last week, just to be able to hold up for 70 to 80 plays. That has shown to be true here. When he has gone in and played banged up, when he has gone in for 70 to 80 plays, the wear and tear of the game into the third and fourth quarters. And so we were trying to get him as healthy as we could. He looked pretty good moving around Saturday, and he looked pretty good yesterday rehabbing it. Hopefully he can have a good week of work and really play and keep the stamina and strength of the knee to where he needs it to be to really play well into the second half.''

On the progress he's seen in WSU's program since he arrived in 2009:"Oh ... immense progression honestly. I think that it appears that the players, the belief in what coach (Paul) Wulff is doing has grown and grown and grown, whether it's offensively or defensively. They've obviously instilled some playmakers onto the football team with (Marquess) Wilson, with (Rickey) Galvin at running back, with the quarterback play and different guys in there. And so I think that's one of the biggest challenges as your trying to build a program and to consistently get guys to believe in and play confident and they definitely do that. We're all going to have our moments where we have setbacks and don't play the way we wish we would play every week. But I think overall that has been one of the biggest things you've seen from them is they play confident, they play hard, they believe in what they're doing and that early on I think it was hard to do. You inherit a football team that's not all your guys, you come iwht a different style, a different brand a different approach, but I think Paul has done a nice job of building that. I'm sure he'd be the first one to tell you he would like there to be more wins to show that, but when you watch the film it's evident they've gotten better."

On Price's leadership and how he helped in Corvallis:

"He's a tremendous leader. You know, we saw this early on, obviously -- one of the big ones was from the Nebraska game -- but Keith is a competitive young man. He is tough physically. He is tough mentally. He can endure anything that gets thrown a quarterback's way. Something I thought was unique, to me, on Saturday was -- you are trying to watch a lot of things, not just what is going on in the game -- but Keith was actually in one of our defensive huddles during a time out, getting the defense fired up. That might have been the first time I've seen that here in three seasons, where an offensive player has gone into a defense's huddle to show that type of leadership. He's natural at it. The kids really respond to it. And that's one of the reasons we put him in. We needed a spark, and I think he provided that. Unfortunately, we just weren't able to capitalize on the opportunities that were presented to us."

On Cort Dennison saying afterward that he loss was on the players and not the coaches:

"Oh, that's just because we've got great kids on our team. I said that to them after. I love these guys. Every day they bring it. They prepare so well, they want to do so well. And that's just an example of a senior leader stepping up and saying something he doesn't have to say. They played hard. We have to continue to strive to put these guys in a position to be successful, and for them to know that they are going to be successful. And that's my challenge. And we've got to get that right this week."

On if the 'moments of truth' are teachable:

"I'd like to think you can teach it -- at least I do. I don't know what other people teach or want to teach or believe in. I believe we can. And that is something that will be a focal point for us these next five days."

On having to do more psychological counseling this year than in years past:

"No, we've been on a psychological warpath here since the first day I took this job. And I don't think it's ever going to chance, quite honestly. That's just the nature of dealing with 18- to 22-year-old young men that have a lot going on in their worlds -- a lot more than just blocking, tackling, running, and catching. So there are a lot of things going on in their world. It's the challenge of finding a balancing act in their life, so that we can focus on the tasks at hand -- as well as inbelieving in what they are doing, believing in themselves and finding that, but not that it becomes arrogance, to where you are too confident. That psychological approach, for me anyway, from Mondays until we take the field every Saturday is ongoing. And I don't think that will ever change."

On any consistent theme to the issues allowing third down conversions at OSU:

"Probably the most consistent theme was the lack of pass rush, quite honestly, that we weren't able to get to (Sean) Mannion, get him out of his comfort zone. And a couple of them was, we were able to get the stop on third down, and they make the right decision to go for it and were able to convert a couple on fourth downs. So that, in and of itself, can emotionally take its toll on you as a defense. You think on third down, OK, we're off the field -- ah, nope, they are going for it on fourth down and now they convert those two. We were right there a couple of times, coverage-wise, and they fit the ball in there. And (Markus) Wheaton's making a great catch on one of them right across the middle. But the most common theme was we weren't able to get to the quarterback, or at least to be able to move the pocket and affect those throws."

On if there is anything that can be done to get a better pass rush:

"Well, we'll continue to look to it. Even going back to some of the stuff we've done in the past to where we don't rush as many guys and we deploy more into coverage, and understanding, hey, the pass rush might not be there but you can cover better with more cover guys deployed and then mixing it with some pressures and different things and making sure that when we are pressing the right guys are going, and that we attacking protections of what they like to do. So a lot goes into it. And every week's different, because every team is different and every offensive philosophy and approach is different. Washington State is a lot different offense than Oregon State, completely different. Hopefully we can find some things, scheme-wise, that we like -- and also in some matchups where we can win some one-one-battles."

On the mood of the players after the tough loss in Corvallis:

"Again, as typical on Monday's I'll know more come 1:30 when I get with them. But I just think our kids want to play well and they really want to do well and I just want to make sure with them they want to do well and play well for the right reasons and that's for themselves individually, for their teammates in that room and their coaches and for our fans quite honestly. And that's the concern that they're not doing it for some other reasons and that's what is making them feel disappointed. If they're disappointed because they want their teammates to feel good about winning a game and they felt like they could have done more, then that's OK and we can get over that and we'll build from that. The point to it is they care and that's a good thing, that's not a bad thing. They want to really do well, they want to win, we just have to coach and play better for that to happen."

On if the coaching staff will try something different this week:

"I always look at things different, whether that's a good thing or bad thing. I always look at things from different angles and access things, positively and negatively because change is inevitable. You're either getting better or you're getting worse in a lot of different areas. Constantly I'm looking at things from a motivational standpoint, from a scheme standpoint, from a recruiting standpoint, and so I don't know if it's any harder. I don't think because we lost last week we're going to coach any better this week or were going to work, I'm going to work 14 more hours this week than I normally would. I don't know if I could do that physically. I think you can look at things differently to try and understand why to hopefully get better and I think we owe it to our players to do that. They work as hard as we ask them to work and we're trying to work as hard as we ask ourselves to work to get to the common goal of winning. To do that I only know one way. There is no magic button, no magic dust to sprinkle on it that all of a sudden it's just going to happen. You have to work hard in this thing."

On how much of an impact it had on the running game when Colin Tanigawa went out:

"I don't know how much not having Tanigwa effected what we did. Obviously he has had a very good redshirt freshman season and was having a very good game up to that point and it really was a freaky injury. He didn't even get hit. You don't see that very often, especially with linemen wearing knee braces and all that. He turns and the knee gives out on him. I do think it was a concerted effort by Oregon State to understand what we were doing. And if the game is 17-all in the fourth quarter or we're up 21-17 you're going to see Chris get more carries. But when you blink and next thing you know you're down whatever it was, 30-something to 14 you've got to throw the ball a little more than you wanted to from the overall game plan standpoint."

On comparing last year's defense to this year's what is missing:

"Well I think we're different. I think we had a guy who was a really good player on defense last year named Mason Foster who made a lot of plays for us. Whether it was rushing the passer or making plays or making plays in coverage or Victor Aiyewa, and I think we've had a little bit difficult time replacing that playmaking ability that Mason and Victor brought. That when we needed to get a sack, it felt like Mason got us a sack, and so now those same two spots we're playing with a true freshman and a true sophomore and it's just going to take time. That's just the reality of it is. You can't say this guy Mason Foster, who's potentially going to have an All-Pro season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and now here's a true freshman playing the same spot. To expect the same results is crazy. So it's going to take time. Do I wish we were better? Sure. But the reality of it is, let's go win Saturday and we're 7-5 and that's a better record than we had at the end of last season.''

On if UW will preparing at CenturyLink before playing:

"We'll go to CenturyLink and do a walkthrough over there on Friday, but that's about the extent of it. We'll go over there and try to get the surroundings of what it's like. The only thing I know and will talk to the team about is the field's 100 yards long, it's 53 1/3 yards wide and it's green with white numbers, and we've got to play.''

On the major issues with the defense and why it hasn't played well.

"We're not getting off the field. What was disappointing in last week's game to me, from a head coach's standpoint, forget that I call the offensive plays, our defense forced us three turnovers and we didn't turn any over those turnovers into points - two of which came with pretty good field position. This is a team game. When defensive schemes work are when offensive schemes are working. When you turn those turnovers into points and now Oregon State is playing from behind instead of playing ahead maybe they try a little harder and now we can create even more turnovers. It goes hand and hand. But ultimately, if you want to get off the field and not let people extend drives. You gotta pressure the quarterback and we haven't been able to do a good enough job of that.''

On if there was anything OSU  did that  they hadn't prepared for:"We knew exactly what was coming on both sides. Again, I sit here and I think and gosh, I look at the scoreboard and think, jeez, we didn't play well. The reality of it is. It's 14 all, they are up 17-14, we potentially have a touchdown pass that's incomplete to go ahead in the third quarter. We're kicking a 38 yard field goal with an All-Pac-10 kicker and Erik (Folk) misses one that is uncharacteristic of him. It's a tie game at the beginning of the fourth quarter. There were opportunities there for us. I just know we are better than that. So that gets back to me and my ability to make our guys feel confident in their abilities to go make plays at critical moments. They should feel confident. And we'll get that point across to them and do a good job of it this week.''

On Nick Holt's comment about maybe needing to simplify the defense and did he has see confusion:

"I didn't see confusion per se. I think what's Nick's talking about is what we talked about as staff. We just want to make sure we are giving our players the best chance to play fast and furious football. Not that we were wrong on calls, but I don't know necessaritly that when we were right, we were playing as fast as we could, even though we were right. There may have been some hesitation there. That is something we are definitely looking at this week. Just to ensure the fact that we are allowing are players to be as athletic as fast as physical as they can be, when know they are right.''

On the problems presented WSU receiver Marquess Wilson:

"Obviously the big play ability that he possesses. We've been susceptible to the big play this year, so that's the firs problem he poses: his ability to create big plays, whether it's the deep ball he's so good at catching or converting the short pass into a big play./ that's the biggest of concern is when he gets one on one matchups, he can create big plays for the offense.''

On if he keeping Price on the bench helped him get healthier for this week:

"It sure did. I thought he looked great yesterday in his rehab session. As we move into this week's game, I would imagine that without the wear and tear of banging on that thing, the swelling is back to normal and back to where his knee should look normal. I think he will feel fresh. I think the knee and his confidence in the knee and his ability to make plays will not only affect his body, but his mind. He will feel better.''

On how Nick Montana played:

"I thought Nick played okay. There are plays where he did some nice things on and some plays that were uncharacteristic of him, from what we'd seen in practice but that stuff, for a guy making his first career start on the road for a redshirt freshman, that's understanding.''

On how Bishop Sankey got to UW:

"Well, we had been recruiting Bishop pretty consistently from springtime and so for about a year it was pretty consistent and I think it's a real credit to coach (Joel) Thomas for developing a nice relationship with Bishop and his family and then when the opportunity came for Bishop to come on his official visit he fell in love. He fell in love with the players, with the campus, the community and felt like this was the right place for him.''

On if he has any qualms about continuing to recruit a guy after he's committed:

"In this day and age, yeah. Guys are still recruiting our players so you have to be prepared for it. If you don't, and another school takes a running back of yours two weeks before signing date and you don't have another one there, you end up signing no running backs and so until the NCAA changes the rule and has an early signing date that is the game that we are all playing in right now. Do I like it? No, but if you don't play the game, you get beat.''

On if Paul Wulff would understand that that is how the game is played:

"I'd imagine so. Nobody really says a whole lot about it. It's pretty common right now. And until we change the rules to have an early signing date it's going to go on. I know the kids that we have committed to us right now are getting actively recruited by other schools so you've got to be prepared for it, you've got to contingency plan.''

On if the defense has gotten better:

"You know it's funny when you watch our defense and you are watching the film, in a lot of aspects we have gotten better. When you watch the game the other night it's a gain of two, a gain of one, a gain of three, a gain of four, and then it's a gain of 50, a gain of 30, a gain of 29, so consistently, yeah, I think we are getting better. But our ability to eliminate big plays still hasn't gotten to the point to where we need to be ultimately a really good defense. It just hasn't happened yet.''

On if Garret Gilliland has a chance to play:

"We're hopeful. He just couldn't get the strength back in the shoulder from the stingers and just couldn't get cleared to play.''

On if Thomas Tutogi took his place for a while:

"What we did, Princeton got nicked up pretty good so we moved Tutogi to middle backer and Cort Dennison slid over to the WILL (weakside linebacker) spot.''

On if he was surprised that some players cried after the game. Some fans might have expected anger instead:

"No, I'm not surprised. We've got an awesome group of kids. I love these guys. I really do. Nobody wants to do well, nobody wants to win more than they do. And I'm sorry if that offends any of our fans. Nobody wants to play more and better and win more than those kids in that locker room. They pour their heart and soul into this thing and that's a credit to them. I think that's why it hurt me so much after that game because I know the challenge that was posed to them. I know how hard we played. It just didn't play out that way. I think that's where there frustration kicks in for them and for me, is because for those guys, I know what they put into this thing emotionally, mentally, physically and they want to do well. They really really do. The mistakes that have been made by us as coaches, by them as players is not for lack of want to.''

On if Price tried to convince him to enter the game earlier:

"No, not once. Not once.''