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Transcript of Steve Sarkisian’s Monday press conference

Post by Ryan Divish on Sep. 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm with No Comments »
September 10, 2012 4:50 pm

OPENING STATEMENT

I think now that Monday has rolled around its been almost 48 hours since the ball game I think we can echo some of the same thoughts we had Saturday night in that I thought our effort was good in the ball game ill start with the game first as we did with the team I thought out effort was good I thought there was a lot of want to on our football team. I thought they battled and competed for four quarters unfortunately our execution wasn’t very good. Anytime you play a team of that caliber especially on the road it’s difficult to overcome thirteen penalties eleven of which they accepted. It’s difficult to overcome when you have some blown assignments because they when you blow an assignment they exploit it. We saw it on both sides of the ball we blew two protections they sacked our quarterback. We blew three coverages they had three big completions one of which was for a touchdown. So the mistakes become magnified against a team of that caliber. I take full responsibility for that we have to clean those things up.

We have to become a disciplined football team a smart football team and one that plays the cards or plays the hand or plays the call from the sideline that they’re dealt and can go out an execute those things at a high level and still play with the tremendous effort and want to that our kids possess. So we have our work cut out for us. We have some adversity that we’re going to have to deal with. Whether it be getting up off the mat after a tough loss like this or dealing with some injuries that we’ve been faced with. But I believe we’ll do that. I believe we’ve got the character in our locker room and on our coaching staff to do that. From all indications what I saw today getting back on the practice field we’ve got the leadership in place that has our guys moving in the right direction to do those things. But this week is totally about us and that’s to take nothing away from Nigel (Burton) and Portland State. For our program to get back on track we have to focus on ourselves right now.

 

This is kind of like the healing process. We have to rectify some things schematically on the offensive side of the ball so that we can become the type of offense that I think we’re capable of being. We have to continually find the moments of when maybe we lack the effort on the defensive side of the ball. There were some very few of them but when there was some there it was glaring. We have to continually play together on the defensive side of the ball. We can play hard for six, seven, eight, nine, ten plays but one mistake on that side of the ball against good teams is glaring. So we’ve got things that need to be fixed and we touched week one not condoning in victory what you wouldn’t in defeat. Well that’s even more so now in defeat. There’s things that we have to get fixed and will get fixed. I don’t doubt that amongst our coaching staff, I don’t doubt that amongst the leaders on our team. The character the want to in our locker room but for us to get better we have to get better we have to improve and that’s the task at hand.”

What’s the status of Erik Kohler?

“He had an MRI this morning to find out if it was anything worse than what it was. I do know the knee was really swollen yesterday. Part of that think could be due to the long flight coming back. I would think he’s a long shot to play Saturday. I do know we have a bye coming out of this weekend’s game Saturday. So hopefully it’s not long term, we don’t think it is but we’ll have to see. Jaydon’s turf toe was limited today, Kevin Smith didn’t do much today with his knee. Neither of which we think are long term but it held them out today. Feeney had an MRI on his shoulder so we’ll find out more there with him on where he’s at as well.”

On possibly shifting the offensive line around some more, maybe moving Drew Schaefer outside?

“I’d like to keep him inside. Micah – it’s unfortunate that twice he doesn’t get out of his stance in the game. Once was a miscommunication coming fro the inside out with drew getting back to him and the other is a miscommunication of what the cadence. But outside of that, Micah played a pretty good game against two premiere defensive ends. Sam Montgomery really came to play after not playing much the first week. The sack he gets is the one where he’s unblocked. We don’t’ even get out of our stance. But I thought when Micah set him, Micah played pretty well and actually did some decent things in the run game. WE have to continually work with on his hands placement and getting his hands inside. Sometimes his tendency is to get his hands outside of the frame of the man. Against good defensive ends, when their hands are inside, it’s hard to keep blocks sustain. But he showed some bright sides against probably two of the better defensive ends he’s going to see all year.

Is it a chicken or the egg situation with play calling? Trying get your rhythm or the offense finding its rhythm first?

Me. I just try to take pride in creating rhythm in our offense and creating rhythm for the quarterback, for the receivers and the backs, and finding that nice balance and mix to what we do and keeping teams off balance. So back to the drawing board that way on what the plan will be for this Saturday and then as we move forward and identifying the guys and how they respond to different plays. We had an opportunity there early in the game. I know I talked about this Saturday night – to really take control of the game  when we got the turnover and to punch the ball into the endzone and we weren’t able to do that. Hindsight is 20-20, you know, maybe we should have thrown something to Austin or Kasen there early in the game to guys in that environment who’ve been in that environment a little bit more. We liked the calls we had on second and third down, it just didn’t work  out our way.

 

Where are the troubles of the run game centered around?

I think it’s a combination of a lot things. I think week one we saw a pretty unorthodox defense with some new faces on the offensive line and lost a back who was probably going to get half of those carries early in the ball game. You go into week two with some changes up front and you go against arguably the best run defense in America, we had a tough time. I think there were more yards for us that we just didn’t capitalize on. And so now, we go into week three again another change up front on the offensive line and so we’ll have to – what I think we’ve already talked about as a staff – what are we hanging our hat on this week so the O-line can play with continuity, they can come off the ball with confidence, aggression and the backs can understand the blocking schemes really well and run the ball violently but with a purpose to extend to the runs rather than just what they are blocked for. And that’s what good backs do. You block runs for 4, 8, 10 yards and good ones turn them into gains for 20 and 30 and 40. I think we have the backs capable of doing that. But we have to make sure they understand the schemes and how things are going to get blocked so that they can understand where those blocks are coming from to get ready make cuts to create those bigger plays. That’s got to be our focus and purpose this week.

Does this game make you want relook at the scheduling of team’s like LSU?

“It makes me want to puke quite honestly. You know, that’s just how I’ve felt for 48 hours because we are better than that. And that’s the part that is so frustrating because we are a good football team and I know we probably haven’t played to our capabilities here the first two weeks of the season and that’s why the goal for Saturday night is to walk out off CenturyLink Field feeling good about ourselves as the pre-season comes to an end as we get ready to go into the regular season of Pac-12 play. I don’t like the feeling I’ve had here for the last couple of weeks and I won’t like it this entire week until we go out and put a product on the field that we all can be proud of and we haven’t been able to do that for two weeks.”

Is there a talent discrepancy between the first time you played LSU?

“I feel like we are a talented team. I feel like they are a talented football team, obviously. I feel like we probably haven’t played to our capabilities yet. We probably didn’t take advantage of some of the opportunities we had that maybe we could have changed the momentum. I remember in that first game we had a third-and-long screen play to Johri Fogerson that went for about 60 yards and then we hit James Johnson for a touchdown the first time in the red zone that I thought really energized our crowd. That got our crowd really in the game. It probably gave our football team the sense that maybe we belong, and maybe put some doubt in the other football team. Saturday night, I felt we had the same opportunity with the turnover on the opening kickoff. In turn, by not scoring there and settling for field goal I thought that energized their crowd, that maybe it empowered their defense to get a three-and-out there, and maybe put an inkling of doubt into our guys that maybe this is going to be harder task than what we thought it could be. So sometimes those opening series and drives to begin a game can have a real effect on the psyche of both teams. I thought that maybe that had an effect a little bit Saturday night.”

Are you bringing that talent level up to USC and Oregon, or is it because of injuries?

“You know what, I will never give you an excuse of why we didn’t play well. It’s obviously pretty clear we’ve dealt with some pretty significant injuries on our roster. That being said, when I look at our starting 22, I like those guys when we go take the field. And we are more than capable of going to win big football games. And I think we’ll see that as the season goes on.”

Is the most adversity you’ve faced as a team since getting here?

“Probably. Probably. I was kind of talking to some of our training staff and saying, ‘Something good is coming around the corner. Some of these guys are going to be coming back.’ And that’s how I always see things. This is the hand we’ve been dealt. Sooner or later we are going to get a good hand. We’ve just got to play it well when we get it dealt. In the meantime, we’ve just got to keep scratching and pushing and clawing and doing things right. Like I touched on earlier, that’s probably the part that is the most disappointing is, we haven’t done the little things right that combat the larger issues we are dealing with right now, and in turn they have kind of magnified some of our larger issues. We’ve got to get those things fixed this week. That’s why this week is totally about us, and our ability to play the best brand of football and put the best product on the field that we can, regardless of who are opponent is, whether it’s this week or probably for the next few weeks to come, it’s about getting our selves right and getting to where we do the things that we do best and see if that’s good enough to win.”

What is the status of some of the injured players?

“Fellner, I know, is starting to get to run on the treadmill this week, which is encouraging. So he’s able to put weight on his foot. Jamaal Kearse is about in the same boat when it comes to that. I know that Riva and James Johnson are probably a few week out. I know when you break bones — and in James’ case, there’s some ligaments there — bones, it takes that long to heal. It’s four to six weeks, you know. That’s proven the test of time. In time, we will start to get some guys back. In the meantime, sure it would be nice to not lose anybody else. But again, that’s the game of football. You’ve got to be prepared to do with it.”

How have the players handled the loss?

“We didn’t just forget about this game. That would’ve been the wrong thing to do. We needed to address this football game and look at the things that we did well — because there were some good things in there, it wasn’t all bad. We needed to address some opportunities that were there for us that we didn’t take advantage of, and we needed to address some things that were bad, because there was some of that as well. We needed to get to the understanding and the truth of all of that so that when we walked out of the meeting room today, we were on the same page of the things that we needed to work on and the things that needed to be fixed for us to move forward.

How far away are they from figuring that out?

I don’t know. That one was hard to tell. I do know this. I don’t know how far away or not. I do know this: that there’s a sense of pride in our locker room. There’s a good amount, if not a great deal of frustration with how that ball game went, because of the standard that we set and that they set for what’s acceptable and for the way that we should be playing. And for  that not to occur, and for those players to feel the way they felt, and the way they feel today, is a good sign to me. So I know we’ve got a willing group that is ready to go to work and wants to put on a great performance for a tremendous fan base Saturday afternoon, when we get to play again.

You wanted to find an identity for the offense, can it happen overnight? In a week?

Well, hopefully about six days. We’ll find it. I’ve been doing this too long and believe in our system too much for us not to find it. We’ll find it. It’s a great challenge for us. We’re in a unique situation for us schematically, it’s a great challenge for us emotionally, and it’s a great challenge for our players to understand what those things are that we need to do, and to do well, to set our identity, and to do things off of that identity to create some big plays. We’ll get it done.

What have you learned about the running backs and receivers.

I think it’s easy to say, well, why didn’t (Dezden) Petty and Erich Wilson get more carries when  they were so great late in the game? Well, I don’t know where LSU’s fire was late in the game compared to early. Hopefully, Bishop can continue to get his confidence going. We’ll see more of Petty. We’ll see more Erich Wilson in that situation. I was very encouraged by Kevin Smith, and what he showed, backed up on the sidelines, another on a slant route down the middle of the field. So I was encouraged by his development as he continues to come back. I think we need to be a bit more creative in ways to get Austin and Kasen the football, and their willingness to really understand the creativity in that, and their ability to really do it right. I’d have liked to have gotten Jaydon and Kendyl a few more opportunities to see what they can do because I think they’re talented players, and I’ve seen them play at a high level so we need to find a way to get their confidence back to where it was at training camp. And then ultimately, making sure that the rapport with our receivers and backs and with our quarterback is on point. It can’t be, I think he’s gonna do this but I’m not sure. Has to be on point where they’re sure he’s at this depth, at what point is he turning, and this is where I’m throwing the ball. At this point, we’ve got a little bit of hesitation there that has hurt us some. So we’ll get that fixed.

Is that an effect of Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar being gone?

I think it’s a little bit of that. I think it’s a little bit of when you just don’t make a couple of plays, when Jaydon just can’t hang on to a ball in the endzone, when Kasen is  two inches out of bounds on sidelines, where Kasen gets that offensive pass interference in the first ball game. You start to wonder a bit rather than you make those plays, then there’s a sense of confidence and belief in one another. So we just have to get that back. And we’ll get that done.

Is he thinking of using Shaq Thompson on offense?

Sure, there’s been thoughts of that. I feel like, for our program to really take the necessary strides to really become a top-tier football team, especially in our conference, we need to play really good defense. If that means we have to sacrifice some on offense to do that, that’s what we’re doing. Because we have an opportunity to be a very good def football team. We need to help them a little bit more on off, and I think we’ll only see Shaq continuing to grow on defensive side of the football. We’ll see his playmaking continue to come. I mean, he missed a pick-6 by about 2 inches off fingertips the other night, maybe a week from tonight he catches that ball and returns if for touchdown.

Was Keith Price being less aggressive against LSU

“I could probably take a little of that back after going and looking at the film. He took some shots. He threw the ball downfield and we made a couple plays and a couple plays we didn’t. I thought that there might have been a ball or two when he’s really going he’ll throw it. But when you’re struggling and they are getting pressure on you it’s understandable. I’d probably take that back some now after looking at the film.

How did he think Korey Durkee and special teams performed?

“I thought Korey did a nice job. I would say going to the game in general, the special teams’ side of it was one of the biggest areas of concern – our coverage units against their return teams. And I thought our guy did a great job. Obviously the opening kickoff, to go down and force the fumble…Korey, one of his best punts of the night is one where we have an illegal formation that’s just uncalled for but he just hammers the ball and pins them down inside the 20 again. He mishits one, but I thought all in all with that setting and that guy returning and where we were trying to place the ball to allow our guys cover, I thought Korey did a nice job. And it was good for Coons to make his field goal attempt, especially in that setting. I think we’ll benefit from those two for sure.

On  how the right tackle spot will work out for reps this week

“It’s a bit too soon to tell. We’ve got to still sort it out, it’s still very early in the week. They’ll get a pretty even amount of equal reps. We’ve got a couple of different scenarios that we can work with – actually a few – so part of that is going to tell of how Dexter looks and feels at right tackle. He’s been playing a lot on the left. Part of that is going to be the development of Mike at that spot and if he can take the next step from a physicality standpoint, because he’s talented enough to do it but he really needs to let himself go to play a physical brand of football. We’ll see how Brostek does with some more reps there and Atoe at right guard – so we’ve got some versatility that we can work with there, but we have to solidify those things here in the next day or so we know exactly what the plan is come Saturday.

Will James Atoe play just a guard?

“I think he’s a potential factor out there (at right tackle). Again, we’ve got to see how we respond tomorrow to some of the things we’re going to ask these guys to do.”

What are Dexter Charles strengths?

“Dexter is kind of what you want in an offensive lineman. He’s 6-4, he’s 300 pounds now, he’s got a real nasty streak to him, he’s extremely athletic…he just lacks experience. He’s a redshirt freshman, hasn’t played a lot within our system. In a perfect world he gets another year to learn the system, but we’re in the situation we’re in, so we’ll put him in positions to be successful. He has all the qualities you want in an offensive lineman; it’s just about going out and playing now. So we’ll see how fast we can get him up to par out there at right tackle.”

What are Shane Brostek’s strengths

“Same (as Charles). The same. It’s in his blood though. He’s just got it. His Dad has been training him since he was in diapers. He’s got an O-Lineman’s mentality. He won’t be perfect when he plays, but he’ll make up for it with his energy, his passion, his aggressiveness, his finish – which is all the traits you want to have in an O-Lineman.”

Does having only one senior on each side of the ball hamper making changes?

“I don’t think of it much like that. I think we’ve got pretty good amount of junior leadership as well.  I think of two guys that really aren’t out there right now that I think could help in the leadership category in James Johnson and Hauoli Jamora. I think those guys have really special leadership qualities. But outside of that, I think the guys that we have – whether it’s Keith Price who is a junior or Sean Parker who is a junior – to go along with Desmond Trufant and Drew Schaefer…I think we’ve got enough leadership in place to deal with the adversity we’re getting dealt right now. We’ll respond to it.”

On Antavius Sims

“He’s redshirting.”

 

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