After a disappointing loss to Oregon over the weekend, there were many more questions than answers for this Trojan team. Assistant Coach/Offensive Coordinator, Steve Sarkisian was up to task, when asked about the status of this Trojan team.
On the Loss to Oregon
"We've got to keep stressing the discipline and doing things right. We're close, which is what is frustrating, I thought we did some really good things, but the penalties obviously hurt you."
Sarkisian Discussed the Progress of Quarterback John David Booty
"We let J.D. (John David Booty) take the reps with the ones today, we're going to evaluate him again tomorrow. I thought he looked better today, I thought the ball really came out of his hand like we're really used to seeing it come out. We'll assess it again here tomorrow and see where we can go from there."
Sarkisian Described His Thoughts on Joe McKnight
"The way the game went, especially early, we didn't have a lot of snaps in the first half. He's obviously a very good player (Joe McKnight). The thing about Joe right now, he's a big little guy – meaning he's going to get one big run, but his other runs, we're trying to get the consistency to get the four and five yard runs as well, so we stay out of second and long. But I thought he played really tough."
"I was really encouraged by his play, the third down play early on, on the screen to get us to the fourth and one situation. Some of the plays he made there down at the end in the fourth quarter. He played really tough football, I was proud of him."
Playing Without Sam Baker
"I think initially, to come in and step into that game like Butch (Lewis) had to, I thought he struggled a little bit early, I thought he settled down nicely. If you look at the last two drives, they knew we were throwing it, I thought Butch did a really nice job for us."
How the Team Will Respond the Rest of the Way
"I think they've responded well, I think they understand we've got four big ball games left. Four games that are going to be real battles for us. Starting Saturday with Oregon State. I think the mindset is we need to go out and play really well if we expect to win. In fact the guys came out today with a lot of energy and, we'll go from there."
The Thinking of the Failed 4th and One Attempt in the First Quarter
"They're a very good fourth down football team. Especially fourth and short, seems like every week they're stopping guys. The one thing they have done on film, they have really loaded up, internally, they were diving at the offensive linemen's legs. They were shooting linebackers into the A-gaps to really negate you from quarterback sneaks, or running any sort of isolation plays inside."
"We had something that we had done with Ronald Johnson early in the year, something to get Joe (McKnight) on the perimeter, we'd practiced it for a few weeks. It felt like the time was right, anticipating man-to-man coverage, to get him on the outside. They had a great call on, they had the thing nailed coming off the edge, and stoned it. Obviously, hindsight is 20-20, I'd be the first one to tell you if I had to do it all over, I would call something else. I don't get to do that, it's not a video game."
Sarkisian's Thoughts on Mark Sanchez
"We should perform better than we've performed. I thought Mark (Sanchez) has played really tough football for us, he's battled. He's not made the best decisions we'd like him to make, but he's a competitive kid, he gives us what he's got and I'm proud of him for that. I think there's obviously times when I try to take some of those decisions out of his hand so he doesn't force some of those balls. Whether it hurts us or not, I don't know. We've been in every game that he's been in, we've been right there."
"We were in the redzone five times on Saturday and scored 17 points and had another touchdown called back. That's a potential 42 points in a ballgame in a hostile environment against a top five team, to come away with 17 points, it's disappointing, we're all disappointed."
Fred Davis' Output Against Oregon
"They had kind of a bracket coverage on him with their safety and linebacker that is not really new with their system. That's how their system is built, they stayed with their system. They obviously knew Fred (Davis) was a big weapon for us, they did a nice job on the first snap, I thought we had a good shot with Fred for a touchdown there. The first play of the game (there was) a potential pass interference by the safety and it didn't get called, and they made a nice play."
"We went to him a few other times and he only ended up with one catch. I don't think it was for a lack of effort. We tried to get him the ball. Fred ran the right route, the ball shouldn't have been thrown there, the safety did a nice job of disguising his coverage and fooled Mark (Sanchez). And that's how it ended up being there (the interception). The first interception was underthrown. If I had to do it all over again, I would take that decision out of his hands, we'd get a first down and keep on playing."
"Hindsight's always 20-20 and we'd love to stay aggressive here and stay an aggressive team, but right now we have to make better decisions as a staff, to take some of that burden off of our young players. That stuff is going to come with experience for Mark (Sanchez) and he made a lot of good plays to get us to that point. That stuff will come, it comes in time and learning. I thought he played really hard, he'd like to have four or five plays back."
When Decision on John David Booty Will be Made
"We let J.D. (Booty) go with the ones today, thought he responded really well. The ball came out of his hand today a lot better than it had in the last couple weeks. Obviously we'll have to assess tomorrow that's always been the big thing throughout this process is how he's responded the day after throwing. We'll see where he's at tomorrow and if he looks good, he'll go with the ones tomorrow and see where he's at from there."