Here’s the full transcript from Steve Sarkisian’s Thursday session with reporters.
In addition to the update on Keith Price covered in the previous post, Sarkisian said LT Micah Hatchie, LB John Timu and S Will Shamburger should all be “good to go.” Shamburger missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury, and Hatchie and Timu were banged up last week.
On to the transcript …
(On Keith Price) “Keith was vastly improved today. Much improved. From where he couldn’t even basically put his shirt on Saturday, he came out and threw the ball today. Vastly improved. I’m going to really monitor how it feels for him tomorrow and how it can potentially improve up until Saturday, Saturday night for the game. But I was, I don’t want to say I was pleasantly surprised, but I was encouraged that he was able to go out and throw the ball the way he did.”
(Does the cold play into it?) “I don’t know how much colder it’s going to get Saturday night than it was this morning, especially at the start of practice when he did the bulk of his work. All of those decisions and everything that’ll come up with the trainers, our medical staff, myself, Keith and a lot of communication so that we put everything on the table and what the potential concerns are and how much better it can be between now and Saturday, and then what he feels like tomorrow or even later today after throwing a significant amount today.
(Did he throw the ball well enough to play, or does that need to improve, too?) “I said what I just said. I’ve got to see how he feels tomorrow.”
(So it’s just based on how he feels?) “And then my decision, yes.”
(Is it hard to stay objective and leave emotion out of the decision?) “I think I’m really objective with it. What I want to make a decision on is what’s best for our football team to give us the best opportunity to go out and play well and execute and win the game. Keith has done a lot of great things here. Cyler’s going to do a lot of great things here and whoever takes the field Saturday night ultimately is going to be who gives us the best chance to be successful.”
(On the Wildcat plays) “I like it. It’s a good wrinkle. We used to use it pretty extensively at times with Chris (Polk), when Chris was our back he had a good feel for it. Thought it was a good changeup. It causes defenses to deploy an extra defender out of the box, and gives you sometimes some better numbers in the running game, especially when teams are playing man to man, it gives you a chance to remove a defender to run the ball. There’s games when it’s effective more so than others and there’s games when it’s more a part of the gameplan than others. We haven’t used it a whole bunch this year, obviously a couple times. I think it had been effective for us. Outside of the communication on the third down last week it would have been effective again.”
(On Damore’ea Stringfellow) “He had a great practice today, I’ll tell you what. He’s been good all week but he was really good today. When you prepare and you really apply yourself and then you have some success, for three straight weeks coming out of that Cal game he really started turning it on and working, and then he had some success, and I think with that success, for a guy like String he’s so competitive. ‘Let me try to recreate this. Let me go right back to work and to fix the things I need to work on.’ He had a great week. I’m excited for him. I think he’s going to play great Saturday night.”
(On the night game routine) “I don’t know if there’s anything ideal or perfect with it. I think everybody’s excited we’re playing Saturday night and not Friday night. At least there’s some football on during the day and not a bunch of talk shows and stuff while we’re hanging around. It is what it is. It’s almost the norm now, quite honestly. We’ve played so many of them I think we’re comfortable doing it, so we’ll be OK.”
(On Stringfellow’s TD against UCLA) “I think it just shows to his strength and athleticism that guy possesses. And there’s other plays he’s running by guys, running by DBs. So I think he’s just got a great combination of size, speed and power, and he’s got a high football IQ. Like I said, I’m fired up for him. I’ve been waiting for that. We’ve been talking about, I’ve been talking about him for months it feels like. He just got going, got going the right way and I think that’s the beginning of it.”
(On penalties being perplexing) “The thing about them is, I feel like when we’ve gotten them we’ve talked about them, we’ve shown examples of what is, what isn’t. We’ve worked on so many things with it. We’ve gotten some odd ones. I’ve never heard of a game where you get three DBs getting facemask penalties on pass routes. Not even the ballcarrier having the ball in their hands, but facemasking guys as they’re trying to jam them inadvertently. That kind of stuff is kind of, perplexing is a great word. Because it’s not as if we’re hitting guys late out of bounds. We’re not roughing the quarterback. Things of that nature aren’t occurring. I think consciously our guys are making an attempt not to have penalties but we are getting inadvertent penalties. We got hands to the face, we got three facemasks on DBs. They weren’t trying to facemask them, but when you’re getting physical and re-routing the guy, it happens. We’ve just got to continue to coach them. Because it’s late in the season, that doesn’t mean we stop coaching stuff. So we’re working on them. We’d love to come out of this game with a really clean game where we don’t commit those penalties and make Oregon State earn everything they get.”
(On reaching out to Pete Carroll about penalties) “Pete’s a great mentor of mine. He’s always aware of those types of things. We had penalty issues when we were at SC together too. I was looking for a little bit of the magic formula here and he said ‘well Sark, I think our guys just play hard. That’s why we get maybe a few more penalties than everybody else.”
(On Miles during practice) “I thought he was really good. Thought he was very accurate today. Confident. Which is where you’d like your quarterback to be, whoever it is, on a Thursday. The gameplan’s been installed, you’ve worked through some of the wrinkles, some of the nuances of it. Here comes Thursday and you want to have a feel-good Thursday where the ball’s getting thrown accurately to the right guys on time and he did that today.”
(Is Miles’ steady preparation unique for someone his age?) “I don’t know if it’s unique in a sense. I think coach Tui does a great job of preaching that to those guys, because being a backup quarterback’s a hard thing to do. You prepare, you’re in those meetings, you’re sitting in those meetings, the majority of the film you’re looking at is of other guys throwing the ball and getting coached, so the challenge of sitting there every day and getting yourself mentally prepared to play and physically prepared in practice is something that we talk to. I think what Cyler has a good understanding of is, I am a play away. And he prepares to be ready the next play. I think Jeff (Lindquist) does a great job of that as well, quite honestly. He’s a guy we haven’t talked about a lot this week, but he’s another guy, he’s really locked in and focused. I think if he got his opportunity, he’d play pretty good, too.”
(On going goods-on-goods) “We do it. We’ve still done it. I think the tempo and the speed of it all, not so much the no-huddle but the speed of when that ball gets snapped, the speed of the game, I think it’s important to keep your guys up to that speed. But then you also need to work on your opponents and the nuances of their offense or defense or special-teams. We do do it, and again, the balancing act of that is critical. But we do it enough to keep the spirits high, to keep the competitive juices flowing.”
(Could Price play in backup role?) “It’s all on the table, quite honestly. It’s all on the table. Again, when we get to that point, we’ll try to do what’s in the best interest of the program.”
(When will you tell them who’s starting?) “I’ll probably tell them tomorrow when they show up and meet with Keith and the doctors and everybody.”