A week ago at his weekly press conference, Washington Huskies football coach Steve Sarkisian was asked about Everrette Thompson’s future in 2009.
Safe to say, when it came down to assessing Everrette’s nagging ankle injury, Sarkisian didn’t sound optimistic about the former Kennedy star’s return.
Yet, there he was, right in the middle of the action Saturday against third-ranked Southern California, playing more of a defensive tackle role.
Sarkisian almost sounded embarrassed by what the team’s athletic trainers discovered.
“It was something in the way they were taping him that was affecting the screw in his ankle from his injury – putting pressure on it, and hurting him,” Sarkisian said. “They taped him differently.”
It’s a big plus to have Thompson in the fold, too. And he was inserted into the lineup specific to the Huskies’ game plan to stop USC.
“We just felt like we needed to have more speed up front versus USC,” Sarkisian said. “They’re a very athletic offensive line, and they were doing a nice job of reach blocking us early in the game. So we felt by getting more athletic, that would keep some of the linemen off our linebackers to make plays.”
Thompson had two tackles. Sarkisian said the sophomore will continue to see action at defensive end (natural position) and defensive tackle.
Other stuff from the Monday press conference:
• Sarkisian confirmed that linebacker E.J. Savannah broke another bone in his left hand Saturday sometime in the first half, and had to get his arm re-fitted in another cast before playing in the second half.
“It happened sometime in first or second quarter. I remember what the play was, not when – I was trying to catch myself on the ground and heard the snapping. I just played with it,” Savannah said. “There’s two broken bones in there now. Just football, not for everyone.”
• The 25 carries by Chris Polk were admirable, Sarkisian said. And the output was “some of the best 71 yards on 25 carries I’ve ever seen. It was not flashy,” the coach added.
But the workload distribution will need to change, Sarkisian warned.
“It is (a worry). But I just felt, the way that game was being played on defense, he needed to be the guy carrying the ball,” Sarkisian said. “We’re going to assess it this week. I think Demitrius Bronson is getting more healthy with that shoulder to where he might be able to handle some of that power running stuff that’s going on inside. We’ve got to utilize Johri (Fogerson) more, and obviously Curtis (Shaw) and Willie (Griffin). Ideally, no, I don’t want him carrying 25 times a game, because the pounding you take over an extended period of time, you just don’t last, in my opinion. So we’re looking to spread that out more.”
• The safety positions have settled. Nate Williams will man strong safety and Justin Glenn will continue to start at free safety.
And the way they performed against USC, that won’t change anytime soon.
“Early on in that game, when they were running through some pretty big holes, and it was Joe McKnight and (Stanley) Havili and Stafon Johnson, I was proud of Nate and Justin to make those tackles in the open field, because those could have easily have been touchdowns of 70 yards or more, like we see around football all the time,” Sarkisian said. “Those two guys tackled well. And I feel like they were the best two tacklers in space.”
• Sarkisian acknowledged Monday what the 60,000-plus fans groaned about late in the second quarter when the Huskies had the ball at the USC 15 – an easy touchdown was there for the taking.
Locker rolled out on a pass play, and had so much room to run, he likely could have waltzed into the end zone. Instead, he kept scanning his receivers, and finally threw an incomplete pass to tight end Chris Izbicki across the field.
“We’ve obviously hammered home the fact we’d like him to stay in the pocket, stay with his progression and keep his vision,” Sarkisian said. “When you look at the film, you go, ‘Dang it, why didn’t he run?’ It was a touchdown for him. That is part of the process.”
• ‘So Ya Think You Can Play?!’ For the first time since 2003, the Huskies are ranked in the top 25 in any poll – 24th in the Associated Press ratings.
Sure, it’s exciting and rewarding, Sarkisian said, but it doesn’t mean squat.
“I’m not elated or I’m not as concerned about us being ranked 24th in the country. That doesn’t matter. That’s out of our control,” the first-year coach said. “And I think that’s something we’ve done a nice job as a coaching staff is that we’ve got our kids in a frame of mind, … ‘Worry about what we can control, and not worry about what everyone else thinks. There aren’t enough hours in the day to be looking at what everybody else is saying, or how we’re going to do something, or what we should do or shouldn’t do. This is about us, and our preparation that we can’t waver from who we are.”
• Sarkisian said he got a lot of text messages during and after the 16-13 upset over USC. The best one? From Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin.
“One from coach Kiffin said, ‘You should retire now!’” the UW coach said.
• Locker is quite gracious with his time, and made one request of us Monday, publicizing an event he’s closely involved with coming up.
The “Run Of Hope,” which will take place next month in Seattle, will feature a fund-raising team “OOO-UM-GOW-AH.” That name was a familiar chant used by supporters of Kyle Roger, an 8-year-old who died last February of a rare brain-stem tumor.
Roger had spent a lot of time around Locker, during the regular season and in the offseason, during his fight. The fund raised will go into cancer research.
For more information about the race, click here.
UPDATE FROM PRACTICE MONDAY: Not much happening. The defense practiced in the home purple uniforms, which is normally reserved for the offense. Figured it was an honor thing from playing so well against USC. … Defensive tackle De’Shon Matthews (knee) returned to practice, but defensive end Darrion Jones (ankle, knee), who saw some action against the Trojans, was a non-participant in the hour-long workout at Husky Stadium.