Washington coach Steve Sarkisian met today with reporters for the final time this week before the Huskies travel to Los Angles for Friday’s game at UCLA.
Not much in terms of hard news to pass along. Sarkisian said there’s a “possibility” senior safety Will Shamburger will play, though he didn’t go into any further detail.
He did, however, discuss a handful of UW’s seniors, as well as the prospect of a California-laden roster heading down to play in front of friends and family.
Here’s a transcript of Sarkisian’s comments …
(On practice) “It was great. Thought the guys were energized. Pretty crisp. It was a good practice.”
(Big deal for LA guys playing at home?) “I don’t think so. You’d have to ask them. I don’t think so. I think they see the opportunity for our football team. I’m sure it’s nice to get the opportunity to go home and play in front of some friends and family. But the majority of these guys, their friends and family come up here to see them play anyway. I think they’re just excited for the opportunity for our team.”
(On UCLA) “We haven’t seen them in a couple years so some of the personnel we have to assess as the game goes on. We know they’re a very physically gifted team in film. Very big front seven on the defense. A lot of good athletes on offense. And they’re very well coached. I’d say in all three phases they’re extremely well coached. I think they pose a lot of challenges but I think ones that we have some things that can combat that. ”
(On statistical similarities between UW, UCLA) “I think these are two good football teams that are getting ready to play. In a lot of the key stats, we are very similar. You talk about turnover margin, we’re both plus-5. Third down conversion rates, we’re about 50, they’re about 51 percent. Defensively we’re at 37, they’re at 35. Red zone efficiency is very similar. So in the stats that in our opinion matter in the game, we’re very close. We both get penalized a lot too so we’ll see how many penalties are in this game. I think these are two good football teams that are getting ready to play. I think in these types of games, execution is paramount. I think the football is paramount and then ultimately the team that can make the play, make the play at the critical moment I think is going to be vitally important.”
(Goal is plus-10 in turnovers?) “That’s the goal by the end of the season.”
(Any other goals?) “4-0 in November has been the biggest one. I think the best way for us to get there is if we can finish November plus-10 in the turnover margin. So we have our work cut out for us. We started plus-2. we got three against Colorado. So we’re on our way. But I think that piece of the game, our ability to continue to take care of it offensively and create turnovers on defense will be the biggest component to our success these final three games.”
(On facing Brett Hundley and similarities to Marcus Mariota) “I think so. They’re similar in some respects. They’re a little bit different. Brett is a big ol’ strong guy. He can break tackles, he can kind of throw guys off of him. Our approach is different because our schemes are a little bit different, but yet the end result is we better have our eyes on the quarterback, especially in the third and long situations where Marcus really hurt us here. Third and 10, he pulls the ball down, scrambles for 10, extends the drive. Those plays are going to be big for us.”
(Do any of the same stuff against them?) “I think the schemes are different, like I said before. What UCLA tries to do is pretty different than what Oregon would do. I know they’re both no-huddle shotgun teams but when you really look at the intricacies of what they do, they’re a little different. I felt like in that game we wanted to keep our eyes on Marcus and that’s why we were dropping a lot of 8-man drops and trying to have eyes on him and we couldn’t catch him very good, obviously, especially in the third and long. We’re going to have to mix it up against Brett. He’s a really good player. He’s very smart. I think Noel Mazzone is an excellent offensive coordinator, who if you stay in the same thing, they’ll get after you and pick you apart. So we’re going to have to have some variety.”
(On road woes) “I think we’ve played some pretty good teams on the road. That’s probably the first thing, is if you play good teams and don’t perform to your standard, you can get beat. I think the biggest thing for us whether it’s this game or any other game, here or anywhere else, is playing to our standard. Playing with our energy, our enthusiasm, our physicality, the speed at which we like to operate. All of those things are important, whether it’s right here or at the Rose Bowl or at Reser next week. It’s our ability to play to our standard, our brand of football.”
(You ever had a team go plus-10 in turnovers in a month? Is that a lofty goal?) “I don’t know. We started plus-2, we got a little bit of a head start. I don’t know. It is a lofty goal. But we have to set goals. We have to set goals high here and when you achieve them you achieve some great things along the way. It is a lofty one but I think we can get there.”
(On John Ross) “I think John came in, he was a very mature kid. Really good head on his shoulders. Wants to be great. Works at it. I think he’s got a high football IQ. He’s a guy that I think is much more comfortable in the system and the details that we’re demanding within the system and I think he understands that. Obviously him catching the ball, running the ball, the return game. He’s a guy that can have an impact on any game. We’re hopeful he has an impact Friday night.”
(On knowing John Ross’ ability while recruiting him) “I recruited him for years. It wasn’t just like a 1-year deal. This was probably about a 3-year process in which I recruited him. He’s always been very mature and he’s always been really fast. I think we’re starting to see his body mature now, even just some of the short amount of lifting that he’s done with us in the summer and fall. I think his best days are ahead of him. I think a year or two years from now he’s really going to be elite because he’s going to be even stronger. But he is fast and like I said, I think he can have a real impact on every game we play.”
(On Sean Parker) “I think Sean, somebody brought up to me I think he’s in the top 10 now in career interceptions at the University of Washington. That’s pretty big. You think about some of the great DBs that have played here over the years. For Sean to be there is just one aspect of the fact that this guy’s been a complete player. I think so many times we look at him and we see his big hits and everyone, ‘oh, Sean’s a big hitter in the secondary.’ Well, he’s got 11 career interceptions I think now, 10 or 11. he plays the ball well. He’s an emotional leader on this team. He gets really fired up. He’s excited to play. What I’m proud of him, is he’s going to be graduating from the University of Washington, he’s going to go on and have an opportunity to extend his career at the next level. When that’s done, I think he’s going to come out of this four-year experience as a better person. Somebody who came here and had the potential to be great, and I think that he’s achieved it. I’m proud of him because he’s come a long, long way in four years.”
(On Marvin Hall) “I think Marvin’s confidence is improving. Obviously in the punt-return game. He’s catching the ball. He caught a few passes last week which is important for us. He’s a real speed guy. As anything, with a young guy making the transition from being maybe not a player to a sometimes player to a full time guy, it’s the consistency. It’s the consistency doing it every day in practice so that it carries over to the game. That’s something that Marvin’s working on right now.”
(On Kevin Smith’s season) “I couldn’t have asked for more than what Kevin Smith has given us this year. He’s just had a fantastic senior season. He’s probably top two or three guys on the team of just kind of my favorite guys. And you have those guys. I don’t mind … the team knows it. You just have certain guys that you get around. I value his opinion on a lot of issues with the team. I think he’s got a great pulse for our locker room. I think he comes to practice every single day with an amazing mindset that he’s going to embrace the opportunity today. Maybe that’s because of the knee injury a year ago and struggling to get back into it. Maybe it’s because it’s his senior year and all that. And just maybe because it’s the opportunity to play college football. I don’t know. Whatever it is. He’s just got a great attitude every single day. I’m happy for him. I hope he goes and plays lights out Friday night. He’s a guy who didn’t play a lot of high-school football, came here and has just gotten better and better and better, and for his sake, I hope he plays lights out on Friday night.”
(First time you saw him?) “I remember going to his game, watching his high school game. He was a strong, physical guy who didn’t know exactly the nuances of the game, but he played hard and he had fun playing. You could see it then. He had fun playing the game.”
(On if Keith Price is gearing up for a strong finish) “I think so. I think Keith has an opportunity to walk out of here as one of the greats. The numbers already tell us that, but he has a chance here this month of November, like this team, to have a chance to really define his career. He can’t do it all at once. You don’t get to hit a 4-game winning streak home run pass on one play. It’s consistency, it’s doing it right, it’s preparation, and that’s just what he does. He’s in a great frame of mind right now. I think he’s playing really good football. I thought the character he showed battling through the thumb injury and the tough game at Arizona State to come back and play the way he has the last two weeks, I think he’s setting himself up for a great run to finish his career.”