Steve Sarkisian Monday Quotes

SEATTLE - Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian addressed the media Monday via teleconference to talk about the Huskies' 35-28 win over WSU in the Apple Cup, their upcoming rematch versus Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl, as well as the culture change that was brought about, in large part, because of the willingness of the seniors to buy into the methods employed by Sarkisian and his staff.

On injury situation and players coming back - "Just to reiterate, Semisi (Tokolahi) and Cody (Bruns) will be out; in a perfect world we'd love to get Sean Parker and Talia Crichton back for the game. Those would be the two most notable guys that could find their way back."

On Nebraska - "One, going to the Holiday Bowl is a great opportunity for us. It's a tremendous bowl game, it's got a great amount of history to it, and tradition. When you look at west coast bowl games and Pac-10 bowl games, the Holiday Bowl ranks right up there - after the Rose Bowl - as the the premier bowl for the Pac-10 to go to. And to have an opponent like Nebraska is what you want. You want to go to a game that is motivating for your players and for your fans. And obviously to have that rematch against Nebraska, a very good football team and one we played earlier in the year, is a great opportunity for us. And to think this is the second of three times we play them in a 13 month span is a unique experience, but one we'll embrace."

On anticipating a rematch - "I wasn't surprised. I didn't try to forsee what it could be; there were so many different scenarios that could take place. We were enjoying the win at the Apple Cup and embracing that, and then whatever it was, it was going to be. Whatever scenario played out - if it was a different game or a different opponent, we were going to roll with it."

On the bowl being a breakthrough or relief - "I don't think it's a relief at all. For our players and this program, this is another step in the right direction. There's been a lot of things accomplished here in two years, whether it's been road wins, or wins in Los Angeles, or Pac-10 wins to break streaks as we've moved along - I think this is another one of those milestones that reiterates the fact that we're headed in the right direction."

On the bowl being a big milestone - "There's no doubt. But I don't think for any second that our coaches or our players feel a sense of relief. There's obviously joy and excitement. We're going to the Holiday Bowl, which is a great experience, but we're going there to play the football game and to win the game. This isn't vacation."

On the Nebraska matchup and the defensive preparation - "Any time you play an opponent for the second time in a season, or in a short turnaround when you play them at the end of the year and then at the beginning of next year, you're able to take things from the ball game, from the first meeting. I know Nick and our defensive staff will do that, but Nebraska has good coaches too, and they'll do the same thing. We have to continually play to our strengths but understand where we were exploited in that ball game and try and address those issues."

On having a week in southern California for recruiting over the holidays - "This ball game in general is big for recruiting for us, not to mention that it is in southern California where we do recruit a lot of players from. But just the simple fact that a lot of the things we've been talking about with recruits are coming true: We are headed in the right direction; we are headed to a bowl game; this is the game we're in, it's a great bowl game; the game happens to be on national television on ESPN with everyone watching. So for a lot of reasons this game is great for us in recruiting, but it also happens to be in southern California, where we recruit a pretty good amount of players."

On having a go-for-it style - "It starts when you're a player. You always want to go for it when you're a player. You get that mentality, that competitive edge that you want to go for it. You want to be that guy at the end of the game that shoots the jumper…you want those opportunities. And as I grew as a coach I was mentored for some year by Pete Carroll, and that was a real philosophical approach we had there as well. It was something I believed in, and it carries itself over to our football team. There's a real belief that we're going for it. We're going to do it. It's not just going for it for the sake of going for it; we believe we're going to make it. And that's had a direct effect - not only in that ball game - as part of your culture as you grow together."

On any second-guessing on tough calls - "I don't worry about the 'what-ifs'. I don't think you can. I think you make rational decisions, not based on a whim, but on beliefs and schemes and I believe in the calls we make. I think if you sit there and second-guess the 'what-ifs', the 'what-ifs', the 'what-ifs', I don't think you'd ever get a call off. You've gotta go with what your gut says and what you believe in and what's rational. And you go."

On regretting any decision since he's been at UW - "I don't regret any of them, in all honesty. There's some I wish I would have made, but I don't regret making them. A lot of those calls are not just for the moment; they are for building a culture and a style of play and a sense of belief in our football program and our football team. Odds are you aren't going to make all of them, but you'd like to make all of them right at that moment when you call them."

On when he'll start looking at Nebraska - "We've started on Nebraska. The bulk of our coaches are out on the road recruiting, but myself, Nick Holt and Doug Nussmeier are in the office and we've already started on Nebraska on that end. The reality of the bowl game in our eyes and the way we approach it - the first three practices will be dedicated to our younger players, to get them some extensive work and get back to the basics…to almost coach them like it's day one, two, three of training camp. And that will allow our veteran guys to continue to get some rest and to heal up some of the nicks and bumps and bruises they have. And then when we come back for practices four, five, six, seven and eight - we'll implement the game plan. We've got extensive time to really look at Nebraska and implement a game plan that we think will be conducive to our personnel groupings and schemes and whatnot. And then we'll take another break, travel down the 23rd and re-implement that game plan starting the 24th as we get ready for the ball game."

On the fake punt - "It was something that was really in for this game. It set itself up for the ideal scenario of where we were on the field, the conditions, the hash-mark, being able to get Jermaine (Kearse) on the field on our sideline so it wasn't a big alert by putting him next to Washington State's sideline…and a real credit to Raspy (Kiel Rasp) on the play. The throw he makes is not perfect, but the whole idea behind that is to give Jermaine a chance. The corner is thinking he's defending Jermaine from tackling the returner, he's not defending the pass. You want to make sure you give him a ball that is conducive to him going up and making a play, which is what Jermaine does so well. And I thought Kiel did that perfectly."

On William Chandler holding after Bruns' injury - "Brunsy is one of those unsung heroes for us. The simple fact is, he was returning punts, he was holding for field goals, he was our back-up punter, not to mention the play he gets at wide receiver and the things that he does. There are some issues that need to be worked out; I forsee Chandler being the holder on field goals and we'll assess what we are doing at punt returns with Devin (Aguilar) and Jesse (Callier), and then we will fill in where we need to on offense at the wide receiver spot."

On the fumble between Jake Locker and Jesse Callier at the goal line of the Apple Cup - "We just got too close together. The timing of the play seemed fine. Again, it was a designed run for Jake; it wasn't a read option by any means. We got too close when Jake caught the ball and kind of extended it to make it appear like he was going to hand it to Jesse and it clipped his hip right there. And it's unfortunate too, because on film he would have walked into the end zone."

On the reaction by the community - "I think the community as a whole has been great. I think everyone is excited. They've been excited for the last month, really. As we've won one game after another, the excitement has mounted and what the possibilities could be. Whether it's the current students or the alumni or people associated with the program, everyone is excited about the opportunity to go to the Holiday Bowl. For our seniors, this is a really special time for them and we touched on this right after the ball game with the team. Two years ago today is when I met them for the first time, and they were coming off the excruciating Apple Cup loss. These guys were sophomores, heading to be juniors, and they were down. The program was down. For this thing to get turned around to the point where we were in that same locker room two years later as Apple Cup champs, third place in the Pac-10 and heading to the Holiday Bowl - it's a very special time. I'm thankful to them, because when you really change a culture, you need leadership and you need leaders to step up and buy into philosophies and beliefs, and those guys did it. Whether it was Jake Locker, Mason Foster, Nate Williams, Ryan Tolar, Victor Aiyewa, across the board…all our seniors bought into the things we brought and hung in there and were resilient through a lot of tough times, some adverse times. And to their credit they were there day-in and day-out, and they get to reap the benefits of going to a bowl game their senior year."

On knowing where they will practice in San Diego - "Not quite yet. There's a few options right now, and we're trying to get that finalized in the next few days. We'll be down in San Diego on Wednesday to do a site review of the practice site and the hotel and the meeting rooms and whatnot…we'll be able to finalize that decision mid-week."

On Taz Stevenson wearing different numbers in the Apple Cup - "What happened was that we had some doubled-up numbers on special teams, and that came about because we played a few more starters on kickoff return and on punt teams and kickoff cover teams, so we got doubled-up a little bit and had to put a different number on him."

On being able to prove to Nebraska that the team they saw in September isn't the same team UW is now - "I hope so. It's going to be a great challenge, don't get me wrong. Nebraska is a very good football team. They played extremely well against the first time around and they are very well coached. Coach (Bo) Pelini does a great job. But I just want us to go out and put our best foot forward. I think that will be our goal in our preparation - to go out and put our best foot forward and play Husky football the way we're capable of playing it."

On recruiting response after what has happened the last month - "The response has been tremendous. Not only the kids, but the high school coaches recognize the way we're playing, the style in which we're playing, how hard our kids play. The response has been tremendous. We've had some really nice wins this year against some quality opponents that have caught peoples' attention. And to earn this bowl game, it's another marker for high school coaches and recruits to point to that this program is headed in the right direction." Top Stories