Steve Sarkisian conducted his usual Monday media sweep, first speaking with KJR’s Mitch Levy early this morning before his noon press conference and 4:30 p.m. radio show. Here’s a transcript of his press conference remarks, much of which was repeated at some point during the day.
(Opening statement) “What a cool week for the Huskies, man. This team came out of last week’s ballgame against Arizona, thought a hard fought game, very physical game with tremendous tempo on both sides of the ball and beat a good football team. Arizona was a veteran group, especially on the defensive side of the ball, made it hard on our offense. I thought out defense again, just hung tight hung in there, it’s unfortunate we gave up a couple plays in there, but our guys just keep doing it the right way, we’re tackling so good right now. For Ka’Deem Carey’s longest carry to be 13 yards, 30 times giving that guy the ball, (that) we held his longest run to be 13 yards was really tremendous. I thought offensively with the conditions … the weather was the weather. You get into those scenarios as the head football coach and you lean on the guys you really feel like you can count on the most. That’s why Bishop (Sankey) carried the ball 40 times, that’s why Kasen (Williams) was back on punts and on kickoff. Was it ideal? No. Did we have to stray from the original game plan? Sure we did. We wanted to be more balanced going in, the weather was the weather and I thought our guys responded to it really, really well. Again I want to thank our fans for hanging in there with us because that was some tough elements to brave through and it was great to get a good win. We get to go on the road to face Stanford in a tremendous matchup against an excellent football team. Very, very well coached team that has improved. In my opinion they’re a better football team today than they were a year ago. I think they have a lot more variety on the offensive side of the ball, the quarterback, their ability to throw the ball down the field, defensively a veteran group, especially up front with playmakers in the back end. So we have our work cut out for us. I thought all in all our guys showed up today with a mind set ready to work, we had a good practice here this morning and getting ready to go tomorrow.”
(On gaining tough rushing yardage vs. Arizona) “I think what balance gives you is an opportunity to create big plays whether it’s in the passing game or the running game. We got a little one dimensional there for a while and understandably, I think both sides of the ball it became just kind of a ground and pound and run it up in there, and that makes it a little easier on the defense. We were able to hit some big plays in the passing game because of our abilities to keep running the ball. In a perfect world we’re a little bit more balanced. That creates some more running lanes for our guys to hopefully create some more yardage.”
(On Lane Kiffin firing) “I’m kind of glad you asked so we can get the giant elephant out of the room here. Probably should have addressed it myself. My first thoughts are with Lane and his family and Layla and those kids. It’s a hard thing to do. Those kids had to get up this morning and go to school. That’s hard. We’re real people, we’re figureheads in a sense because we’re coaches. But our wives and kids lead real lives. They deal with it more on a day to day basis than we do. So my first thoughts are to them. I’d say on another front, to switch gears a little bit, I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity I have to be the head football coach at the university of Washington. I’m thankful to (former UW president) Mark Emmert, who’s not here now, to (UW athletic director) Scott Woodward, to (UW president) Mike Young, and this community that I get to be part of, that my family gets to be part of. This is an awesome place to be. And I have never once and I will never comment on hypothetical scenarios. I know that’s the world a lot of us in this room live in and that’s your job to do and I understand that. But I’ve never done that in the four and a half years that I’ve been here and I won’t do that. I have great respect for USC and the rich history and tradition that they have, but I’m proud to be the head football coach of the 15th-ranked team in America right now and all the hard work that we put into this program for the last five years to get to this point, to be in an awesome matchup on national television Saturday night against a national championship contender in Stanford, and that’s where my focus is.”
(Has USC contacted you?) “No.”
(Worried about it being a distraction?) “I talked about this with the team today. We’ve been on this zero distractions mantra since the offseason, getting ready to open up Husky Stadium, and I’ve been talking to them about it, so this was a cool opportunity for me to go into our team meeting and use it from a personal standpoint and for them too. Those kids are sitting at home in their dorms and their apartments and they’re watching ESPN, too. So this is a great chance for us to show and prove that there are zero distractions. We’re focused on the task at hand and the task is a big one this week and that’s playing Stanford.”
(Do you address it with the team?) “I bring it up to them. That’s how we are. We’re a very close knit group, we’re a mature group, we openly talk about things and I think that we’re in a good place to do that right now as a football team and as a football program. I think when you ask them about it later, they’ll give you the same response.”
(Gameday coming for Oregon if you win this week?) “Gameday’s not going to help us beat Oregon in two weeks, so that doesn’t really matter, quite honestly.”
(Differences between B.J. Denker and Kevin Hogan) “Hogan, he’s a little bit more bigger, physical runner. (B.J.) Denker was really fast. That was our concern, that he would out-leverage us and he did it on the one run to get them down to the 1-yard line. Shaq (Thompson) is the most athletic defensive player we have, and he out-leveraged Shaq and out-ran him to the 1. so they’re different in style. I think Hogan can really throw the ball down field some too, and that presents its own issues for us. You go back to (Nathan) Scheelhaase, really go back to (Joe) Southwick who was an athletic guy who ran on us in the bowl game. Scheelhaase was an athletic guy, Denker last week, now here comes Hogan. I think this is just college football right now that we have to be prepared for quarterbacks that can do multiple things, that can throw and can run and you have to be ready for anything.”
(On Stanford’s defense) “They’re a veteran group, guys that have played a lot of football, they’re disciplined, so they’ve been in that scheme for quite some time now so they know the nuances of that scheme. They’ve played extremely well. They’re obviously talented, they’re big, physical guys up front, they’re athletic in the back end. They’ve got tremendous leadership, Shayne Skov is a tremendous leader for that defense. I think they have belief. When you do really well you gain more belief in what you do. I think they believe they’re really good on defense and ultimately they play that way. They’re tough.”
(On Stanford passing more against WSU) “I think when Stanford has been really good and when they had Andrew Luck they threw the ball quite a bit. I remember coming here a couple years ago and it was one of those rainy, cold, windy nights, and the first play of the game, Andrew Luck threw a deep corner route on us for a big completion and they threw the ball the whole first quarter in the rain and kind of got us a little disoriented and got after us pretty good that night. So I think when they’re at their best they’re throwing the ball. You can’t go into the game thinking they’re this one-dimensional, a bunch of tight ends and linemen and they’re going to run the ball. They’ve got balance, they’ve got speed on the outside, Ty Montgomery, Michael Rector, those guys on the perimeter can really run. They’re going to tax you in all phases, so you have to defend everything, you can’t go in thinking this is just goal line football, that’s not the way they play and that’s not the way they play when they’re at their best.”
(Last year vs. this year) “We’re both different teams. We’re new teams, have different personnel. I think the biggest thing we take out of last year’s game is we know the personnel. We can talk about personnel but we’re just so drastically different on both sides of the ball. We’re just gathering information and now trying to apply it for the gameplan.”
(Look at Oregon film since Stanford slowed them down?) “Sure. We looked at it at length. They did a great job last year at Oregon defending them, minimizing the big play. I think (Marcus) Mariota had a big long run early. They minimized the big play after that. Oregon had some success against them in previous years on offense and Stanford had success against them on offense as well. They had some shootouts but last year was a little bit different. We have looked at that film and we continue to look at it just so we’re aware of the defensive schemes they like to play.”
(David Shaw establishing own identity after Harbaugh?) “I have a great deal of respect for David. He’s a tremendous football coach, he’s a good man. He does a tremendous job with that program. Offensively and defensively, their schemes are their schemes … I think where David has really improved the program is in recruiting. I think they do a tremendous job in recruiting of identifying guys that fit their program big time athletic players that maybe they didn’t get in the past. They’re identifying those guys and recruiting the heck out of them, and they’re hard to beat in recruiting. I think that’s probably the biggest impact David’s made is on the recruiting front.”
(On Bishop Sankey) “He looked good today. He’s a little bit sore but he looked good today. Ideally, 40 carries is not where you want to be with the guy. But you do what it takes to win the game and I felt like that’s what it took the other night based on the elements and the way the game was going. He was just an absolute champion about it and he handled himself beautifully.”
(On Jesse Callier) “I think Jesse was tremendous. He continues to get better and better. His football conditioning is really good right now. I would venture to say you’ll see more of Jesse in the future on offense. But what goes unnoticed is how good he is on special teams. He is a phenomenal player on special teams for us. He runs down on kickoff and knocks the crud out of guys. He does so much for our football team. I know we just look at carries, but he’s on the field quite a bit for us.”
(Anything jump out at you on film?) “Two things jump out at me. One, Travis Coons deserves an MVP award. Five punts inside the 20 under those conditions. Some of the snaps, because of the weather, he’s jumping up, catching the ball, putting the ball inside the 10. I thought Travis deserves an award just for his performance. Coach (Justin) Wilcox brought him into the defensive team meeting this morning and praised him and had the defense applaud him. When you’re pinning opponents deep, that makes the life of the defensive coordinator and the defense easier. So that was one. Two, I thought Sean Parker played a really good football game the other night. He was fantastic. He tackled really, really well. The interception that he made. Sean is playing really good football and sometimes he goes unnoticed because of the some of the big name guys on defense. But I thought he’s been playing really well for us this year and Saturday night was no different. He played phenomenally.”
(On Stanford’s offense) “What’s interesting about Stanford on offense is they have the big ol’ linemen, they bring in 7 or 8 offensive linemen, they line up in the I-formation and run power or counter. They do that, but now when you watch them, they have a lot of the principles of the same plays that we run, or the same plays that Oregon runs, or the same plays that other people are running.… I think it’s a credit to David. It’s not just running what they’ve always run forever. They’re running plays that other people are running too. They run fly sweep, they run zone read. They’re still doing all that stuff too. That’s what makes them difficult is they have so much offense that where do you spend that time and prepare to get ready for it.”
— Sarkisian also said he had Keith Price, Will Shamburger and D’Andre Goodwin (now a grad assistant) address the team in their meeting today, because each of those players were on the team in 2009 during Sarkisian’s first season as coach. Sarkisian said it was a reminder that even as the Huskies prepare for a primetime game against a top-5 team, they can’t forget where they came from and what it took to get there.
— You’ve probably seen by now, but the Oct. 12 game against Oregon has been selected for a 1 p.m. kickoff on FOX Sports 1.
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple