Here’s the full transcript of Sarkisian’s comments during Monday’s press conference (minus his comments about Don James, which we posted earlier).
(Opening statement) “The ballgame on Saturday, it didn’t get any better looking at the film. The way it looked in person is kind of what it looked like when you looked at the film. Challenging, challenging time for us in that we fought like crazy the previous two weeks against two really good opponents, and for one reason or another, it just didn’t come to light Saturday. I thought we started the ballgame well. I thought the second quarter of the game really took its toll on our ballclub, our inability to get first downs on offense, giving the defense poor field position, they fought I think as much as they could and to keep Arizona State out of the end zone, it was a 15-7 ballgame with 3:48 left in the first half and we couldn’t get a first down.
“And finally they wore us out, we missed some tackles and then bang, the game is 29-7, so obviously as I touched on Saturday and I’ll say it again, my job here at the University of Washington is to prepare our players to be successful, whether it’s through conditioning, whether it’s through scheme, whether it’s through fundamentals and technique, whether it’s through motivation, emotionally, mental toughness, whatever that is, and I didn’t get it done Saturday. The buck stops here and we will be better Saturday, we will play better, harder, more physical Saturday, and we’re going to play a really good football game Saturday night.”
(How did Keith Price look at practice?) “We didn’t practice today. I felt like for us we needed to regroup. We had some lengthy meetings. We did a little bit of conditioning and we lifted. So we’ll assess him tomorrow. He’s sore. His thumb is swollen, but I know Keith Price is a tough guy, he’s a fighter, and he’s going to do everything in his power to be prepared and ready to play come Saturday night.”
(How can you tell if he’s healthy enough to play?) “I think physically, that’s easy to see, right? Is the ball coming off his hand? Is he throwing it well? The mental side is the one that is challenging to dog into, of where exactly he stands in part due to some of the physical ailments that he might have. That’s the stuff I really try to watch closely and not necessarily always at practice. It’s around the office, it’s around the building, his body language. Again, I’ve known Keith for over five years now and he’s a tough kid, and he’s going to prepare himself mentally, physically and emotionally to be ready to play. We’ll have to figure out if that’s good enough. That’s the challenge of my job and I embrace the challenge.”
(Thumb swelling in different spot?) “A little lower, a little further down on his thumb, so I don’t know if that’s a byproduct of the original injury or not, but when you play quarterback and you have to grab the football, your thumb plays a pivotal role in gripping the ball and throwing the ball.”
(On replacing injured QBs in past seasons) “Every decision we make is, as I touched on earlier, my job is to put our team and our players in the best position to be successful, and I felt like at that time with Jake and then obviously with Keith a couple years ago, the other guy gave us a better chance to be successful that week. Neither one of those games were we as successful as we wanted to be obviously. We went down to Oregon and lost with Keith in his first career start, and we went down to Corvallis with Nick Montana and lost that ballgame. But I really felt like at the time that was in the best interest of our program for us to be successful that week.”
(Team’s confidence in Cyler Miles?) “They have a great deal of confidence. I think Cyler is a very confident player. He works diligently in his preparation. I think Jeff Lindquist as well as really improved along the way. We’re fortunate we’ve recruited that position really well and we’ve got some talented guys that can step in and play.”
(Changes needed up front in protection?) “I can do a better job of protecting those guys. We didn’t run the ball enough. We didn’t run the ball enough in the second quarter when we could have kind of slowed the game down in a sense, regroup, get in the locker room at halftime in a potential 1-score type game, and I don’t know if it was my frustration level of maybe I had too much belief in our ability to go and do it, and to Arizona state’s credit, they were playing maybe a little better than I gave them credit for there, and they put us behind the chains and put us in some long yard situations that we just didn’t handle great. For whatever reason, again, I’ve always said, I go back and when i grade the film and I assess the film of a ballgame, I look at myself first. And I look at how I manage the game as a head coach, I look at how I call the game as the playcaller on offense and in the middle of the late second quarter, I could have done a better job of keeping that game into a one, potential two-score game, gotten in the locker room, regrouped and come back out in the second half playing the way we’re capable of playing, and I stayed aggressive and tried to throw it down the field and they pressed the pocket on us and got sacks and got penalties, and got holding penalties, and it was second and long, third and long, we end up punting out of our end zone a couple times and they got great field position, and it just started to steamroll on us. I’ve got to do a better job.”
(More on Sankey not running as much as he wanted) “At the end of the day, I think Arizona state ran 93 or 94 players and we only ran 64. and both teams were going uptempo. Our lack of execution Saturday hindered us. We’ve been an excellent third-down team. When we’ve been able to extend drives, to get multiple plays, we were not very good on third down Saturday due in part to third and long situations, which we had been good at, but when you just live on third and long, it’s hard to extend drives to get more plays. I think it’s a combination of a lot of things that played into it. You guys know me enough by now that I love running the ball. I love giving the ball to Bishop. To go and stand in front of you guys and look at the stat sheet, and he has 13 carries in a critical ballgame in a season, that’s not enough.”
(More on ASU loss) “They coach too. They’ve got good coaches too. They did a nice job scheme wise. I think one thing we’ve been good at this year is sticking to the plan and making the unique real adjustments within the run game that have enabled us to create some real good running lanes, especially in the second half. I think our offensive staff does a great job at halftime of assessing what opponents are doing to us, making those subtle adjustments, so that the running game can get going in the second half. You saw that a week ago with Oregon with Bishop. So I just didn’t think that we gave that a chance and ultimately that falls on me.”
(Could ASU be a seminal loss?) “I think there are some things that can get fixed and fixed quickly coming out of this game. They’ve been addressed as a staff and they’ve been addressed with our football team. So that’s first. There are those things. There are some bigger things that can come out of this. Somewhere in here, this piece of the season, this portion of the season, granted we’ve played good teams, this portion of the season here has caused us issues for five consecutive years. And so when we hit the offseason, I keep a running log of notes and things so that when January comes around, as a staff there are things we need to address of things that came up throughout the season, and this is definitely going to be one of them. This isn’t going to go away. We’re going to play Stanford and Oregon every year. If we have to play them back to back every year, so be it. It’s that next game after those hard-fought, emotional battles, how we deal with it. Obviously we haven’t dealt with them well enough yet up to this point, so back to the drawing board. Those talks have to take place in January and have to get worked through in January. We can’t wait until the week of the ballgame.”
(How big of a factor did conditioning play?) ”I thought it played a factor in the second quarter. Our inability like I said offensively to get first downs, our defense I believe was on the field I believe for 11 and a half minutes in the second quarter, in that heat, going uptempo, I felt like it took its toll on our defense for sure.”
(Massive changes?) ”I don’t think so. I’m proud of the condition that our team’s in. I thought we’ve been a great second half team all year. But sooner or later human nature you can only go for so long. We were subbing guys we would rotate guys. We just couldn’t keep our defense off the field well enough to be refreshed, to go out and play good football in the second quarter. We missed a lot of tackles I think as a byproduct of that. I think fatigue played into our inability to tackle them in some pretty obvious tackling situations that we normally make.”
(One or two fixes you might share with us?) ”Well again and we touched on it last week but the passing game and the efficiency in the passing game has to improve. Not that we’re going to abandon the pass and go out and run the football every down. That';s not the case. We’re at our best when we’re a balanced offensive football team so there’s going to be some subtle changes. Obviously I don’t want to disclose our offensive game plan to coach Dykes but there’s going to be some subtle changes to what we do in the passing game to become more efficient because I think we have the capability of being so. I think we have the personnel in place and the schemes in place to get that fixed.”
(Seen anything specifically with Keith’s throws?) ”I just think at times the ball either has a tendency to sail or has a tendency to dive on him. To me that’s a result of when you don’t have a great grip on the football and that thing doesn’t come out the same way every time. I’ve seen Keith Price for five-and-a-half years throw the football and he throws a beautiful football. He has great spin on the ball and he’s an extremely accurate passer, one of the more accurate guys I’ve been around. When he misses sometimes the way he misses the past couple of weeks to me that’s a direct result of the thumb not being where it needs to be.
“I’m going to have to assess that this week to make sure that he’s capable of making the throws that he’s been capable of making for the last five years so we’ll see how he responds.”
(When Keith was missing throws early, did you think about a quarterback change?) ”No, I wasn’t. It was funny. I had a little time here to watch Jim Leyland’s resignation press conference. He had a quote in there that I hadn’t thought about but it kind of hung with me for a second. He said ‘I probably protected my players to a fault.” Not that I’m protecting Keith Price but I have belief in that guy. I’ve been in some knock down drag out games where I’ve seen that guy get knocked down and get up and fight and compete and I think that that trait that he possesses resonates with our entire football organization. Not just the players, but the coaches, our staff. I think his ability to stand tall in the most adverse times whether it’s on the field or off the field is really something that is really cool, that we can all see. That’s how you respond. I wanted to give him his chance to fight and compete in a game in a tough environment which we knew it would be a tough one and unfortunately it didn’t work out but if that’s to a fault of mine then it is and I’ll take it for that knowing our players know I’m going to be there with them and standing there with him because I think that he deserves that.”
(Physical or mental?) “I don’t know. Every game is different. I thought as a team we played better against Stanford. As a team we didn’t play nearly as good against Arizona State. It’s easy to look at the one guy who’s holding the ball every snap but as a team we just didn’t play as good. That’s nothing against Arizona State. We all know the quality of an opponent Stanford is. We all know the quality of that defensive front. We know the pressure that they applied on Keith. He stood in there and delivered balls and we caught balls and we played with a great deal of confidence and that just didn’t show up Saturday for a variety of reasons.”
(Here we go again?) “Well, in year’s past, fortunately but unfortunately we’ve been here before. We’ve always responded. We’ve always responded. We’ve always bounced back. We’ll do it again. I don’t have a shadow of a doubt that our guys are going to come out and play a great football game Saturday night. What I do know to be different is a year now from today it will be a different press conference. This won’t happen again.”
(Power of football coach to impact lives?) ”I think that’s the ultimate compliment as a football coach. We come to work every day. We’re around young people everyday. Some days more than others we have an impact on their life whether its on the football field, in the class room or in their personal life. As I’ve said before, my job is to put our players in the best position to be successful. A lot of times that only resonates to on the football field. But that carries right over to the classroom. That carries into their personal life. That carries into life after football. When ex-players can come back and compliment their coach 20, 30, 40 years later and the impact that he had on their life that’s the ultimate compliment for us. I know coach James heard it before he passed and I now Carol is hearing it after he’s passed from numerous, numerous ex-players. That is the ultimate compliment for us.”
(Is there a shadow there?) “I wouldn’t say we’re trying to live up to an image. We’re trying to live up to a standard that he set, but that’s the reason I chose this job. I came here to win championships. Coach James set the standard. That’s the beauty of coming to a place like the University of Washington. That you’re here and everybody involved in our organization is doing everything in our power to win championships.
“It’s not just to play football games. It’s not just to be on TV. It’s not just to put people in the stands. It’s to win championships. That’s why I chose to come here. That’s why the numerous people at this university and in our athletic department chose to come to work here. It’s the standard that he set. That’s the beauty of coming to work everyday. It’s not just our football program. It’s every athletic program in our department is striving for championships and that’s the standard that he set.”
(Does it resonate with players?) ”He spoke with our team every year since I’ve been here. I don’t know if there’s a more iconic figure in Seattle and obviously when you speak of the University of Washington football program. If that can’t resonate with them I’m not sure what else does. But you’d have to ask them that question.”
(Favorite Don James memory?) ”Without a doubt it’s before the Holiday Bowl. I used to speak coach James on numerous occasions. If you remember that Holiday Bowl, we had been beat by Nebraska by 35 point earlier in that season in Husky Stadium. We went to the Holiday Bowl and we were on a nationally televised game and we were behind another game that was in overtime so the kick-off time had gotten pushed back and pushed back. And everybody was antsy on the field to get the game started and get going.
“I walked over to Coach James, we shook hands and we talked for a minute. He had a unique, quiet confidence about him that I’m sure his players and coaches felt from him. He had an aura of ‘we’re going to go win’ and we’re going to go play really well. I felt it then from him and again, this was in a ball game, we had just lost to this team., two months earlier by 35 points. It really resonated with me the impact you can have. It’s not always about the words that you say but it’s truly who you are and what you represent and how you represent yourself that can have as much of an impact as the words that you say. I’ve tried to really carry that with me and not just on game day but on a daily basis of what people see from me and how I represent the University of Washington football program and the confidence I have in our players and our program to go and compete and to go and win at a very high level. I think that moment for me was one of those “a-ha” moments as in this is how you can carry yourself and the guys will feel you.”
(Will Dexter Charles play?) ”I’m hopeful. Obviously I think a week off is helpful for him. There is nothing structurally wrong with him but we’re hopeful we get him back. Obviously he’s a very good football player.”
(Erik Kohler’s game?) “I thought it was good. It’s hard when you go from playing a half the week before then all of a sudden you’re playing and it’s 88 degrees. Conditioning is a factor for him. That’s why the depth with Dexter, even if Dexter doesn’t play the whole game would have, I think if those guys rotated some would be good for us.”
(Anything different with Bishop?) “I think it was just everything built in. I thought Bishop was ready to go. He just didn’t get enough opportunities.”
(Defense?) ”We calculated. I think we missed 20 tackles in the game. I don’t know if they’ll tell you this I don’ know if Justin (Wilcox) will tell you this but I think it had to do with them being on the field a lot. They’ll never give you an excuse. Justin will never give you an excuse and he’ll tell you it’s got to be better. I think we also calculated they had 190 yards of offense after contact.
“Those two numbers are pretty startling numbers. 20 missed tackles, 190 yards after contact, but I do believe it’s a direct result of them being on the field too much.”
(John Timu?) “We’ll see tomorrow.”