Steve Sarkisian met with reporters, as usual, after Wednesday’s practice. Here’s what he said.
(Road woes still a question) “And it’s going to be until we do something about it, quite honestly. Inevitably, great teams have the ability to go on the road and beat really good football teams and beat potentially great football teams, and we just haven’t quite gotten there yet. We’ve played hard. We’ve had moments of really good football. Unfortunately, we haven’t put together a complete game of four quarters against really good teams on the road. And that’s what it takes.
“I think our guys are really starting to understand that, of what it really takes, because we’ve played hard. It’s not about our effort. But you have to take care of the ball on the road. You have to minimize your penalties. You have to play really good on special teams. You have to be efficient on third down and in the red zone, and all of that stuff adds up. I think like anything, when you get one, then it’s a little easier to get two, then three, and you start stringing them together and you start understanding what it takes and it all becomes contagious. We have to worry about getting one, then we can take care of the rest.”
(Does it feel like you’re right there?) “It sure does. It really feels that way. But as I said Monday, I’m tired of being right there. I don’t want to settle for being right there. I want to win those games. When we do, it’s going to be awesome. We’ve got to knock through the door, man. We’ve got to bang that door open.”
(How is Oregon State different this year?) “I think the quarterback obviously is a different player. He’s a much more confident player. He’s really throwing the ball accurately down the field. He’s tremendous at it. Obviously (Brandin) Cooks’ level of play is at such a high level right now, differently than last year when they had (Markus) Wheaton and Cooks going. Brandin is just playing at a really high level and I think defensively from last year through the beginning of this year, they’re really improved. They’re playing good football. Obviously the two corners are ballhawks. (Scott) Crichton coming off the edge, (Dylan) Wynn up inside. So they’re going to play hard. They’re as hungry as we are. We’ve both kind of been backed into a corner, and one of the teams is going to come out fighting to win the ballgame.”
(On Cyler Miles in practice this week) “I think he’s been great. Similar to the Cal week where he got a lot of reps that week. So it’s not new to him. I think he’s really focused. He’s understanding the gameplan. Having a little taste of actually playing real football there the second half against UCLA, he’s building off the positives and he’s learning from some of the negatives in there of where he can really improve mentally to get ready for a ballgame.”
(Anything different than that Cal week with Miles?) “I feel the same. Because a few weeks ago he had a complete gameplan ready for him then, too. And he’s got one ready for him now. He’s a different player than Keith. So we have to tailor some things a little bit differently to him. But all in all, I think he can handle our offense so I don’t think we have to minimize or do more with him. It’s just running our offense.”
(Is Price waiting on doctor clearance? What does it come down to?) “It’s me looking at him and assessing him and his ability to make the throws necessary to go win Saturday night. We’ll get a good read on that tomorrow and then see how he comes back on Friday from tomorrow’s practice.”
(What feedback have you gotten from Price?) “He feels much better. He’s really improving every single day. I do know that. I think it was a really good decision just to not allow him to throw. He hasn’t picked up a ball and thrown it Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, so we’ll see how it looks tomorrow. But I really think it was a good decision by everybody involved just to cut out all the throwing. He’s taking all the reps in walk-throughs. He’s getting all that stuff done. He’s a fifth-year senior. He’s got a pretty good grasp of our offense at this point.”
(Can the decision go into Friday or Saturday?) “I don’t think so. I think we’ll know tomorrow. The good thing is for us, we’re planning on Cyler playing in the game. That’s our approach. If Keith is able to go and shows us he’s able to go tomorrow, similar to the Cal game, that’s a bonus for us. But we’re planning on Cyler playing, then if Keith can show us that he’s capable of making those throws, then Keith will go.”
(Do you get the sense these guys are hungry after this break?) “We’ve got a great group of guys. These guys, they are hungry. I think they have a great deal of resolve. I touched on this Monday and I got asked a question about the frustration around the program and not winning that game on the road. I can promise everybody, it’s nowhere near the level it is in our locker room and in our coaches’ offices. Nobody wants those games more than we do. I think the guys on our team are chomping at the bit to have another opportunity to go out and play Saturday night.”