Dawg Blog - Holiday Bowl

With Washington now in San Diego to take part in their first bowl appearance in eight years, Dawgman.com will compile all the news, notes and quotes as the Huskies prepare to take on Nebraska in a rematch of an earlier game in which the Cornhuskers took UW to the woodshed. Can UW rebound?

Holiday Bowl Press Conference Notes
Posted 12/29 12:41 pm

As of Wednesday, the sold ticket count is at 60,000.

Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini:
General comments - They are excited to play and happy to be back in San Diego for the Holiday Bowl, a 'first-class' bowl game. It's the second time they are here (last year beat Arizona 31-0), and the hospitality is absolutely phenomenal. They have been treated very well and it's been a great experience for their kids. They are looking forward to a heck of a football game against a team he has a tremendous amount of respect for. It's time to play football; they are excited to play and he knows UW is excited to play. It's such a great city to be in and such a well-run bowl game, it's like we haven't been here before because we always get treated so well. But now it's time to dial in and play football.

On playing Washington again - You prepare for them just like you prepare for any opponent. We're a different team than we were, and we know UW is a different team. Maybe it's because I coached in the NFL too, but I'm used to seeing teams twice a year, but every time you go out on the field you have to earn it on the field. The team that makes plays will win the game. What happened in September is over.

On what he can take from the UW game - You can't take much. We watched it and we took from it the things we did well. But the teams have changed, both scheme-wise and personnel-wise. We're going to prepare for it just like we would any other football game.

On coming back after a difficult Big-12 championship game loss - Our team is resilient. If you start to feel sorry for yourself, you're going to get hit in the mouth. We understand the challenge that lies ahead.

On the NU fans showing up - Some of it might be the economy, some of it might be because we played here last year, but we'll be well-represented. It's going to be a heck of an opportunity for us and our fans. You control what you can control.

On having success in bowls - I like our schedule. We don't overdo it. We allow the opportunity for our kids to enjoy themselves, but we also know that what has happened in the past isn't necessarily going to help us.

On Taylor Martinez - I still don't know if he's 100 percent, but we're a pretty healthy football team right now - knock on wood. I don't know what's going to happen between now and tomorrow.

On his success - At this stage of his career (redshirt frosh), and I think Sark would agree with me, it's not easy to do what he's done, and each experience he'll grow from it and improve. But he had such unusual success early on people forgot just how young he is.

On matchups to watch in the game - Washington has really good skill people, like their QB, and they put a lot of stress on you and try to get guys in space. We feel good about our secondary, but at the end of the day games are won up front. And that's an area where Washington has gotten better. What they've done this year is familiar to me because it's like my first year at Nebraska - we hit our stride around the middle of the year, and I see some things like that in UW right now. That's a credit to their staff and a good sign of where their program is headed.

On the possibility of having three 1000-yard rushers - It shows we have balance, and it's nice having multiple guys that can stress a defense. I hope a couple of those guys get to 1500 yards tomorrow (laughter).

Here's video of Bo Pelini's press conference, courtesy of BigRedReport's Steve Ryan.


Steve Sarkisian Press Conference Notes:

Opening comments - Just like to echo some of coach Pelini's thoughts…It's great to get to a bowl, and this one is first class all the way. From the events planned, to the practice sites, we are very appreciative to be back in a bowl. It's been a very good week, but we've got an antsy team ready to play. We closed the season out the way we needed to close, and if the players had their way they would have played the week after the Apple Cup. They have been extremely willing all the way, and I'm proud that we have earned the right to be here.

On there being any 'revenge' factor - I don't know about revenge, because first, when we went back and looked at all the games, I thought that Nebraska was the best-coached team we played all year. Our focus though, is on what we are about. Revenge is all well and good, but if you can't stop them, it doesn't matter.

On taking USC's bowl template to UW - It's a template that's been in place that I believe in. Is it perfect? I don't know. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat. But it's a structure I'm comfortable with, and there's very little gray area. It's very cut-and-dried in what we're doing.

On Jake Locker's first game against NU - It's a credit to Jake, because he was pretty beat up after that game - after the NU game, we had a bye week - and typically we would let him rest that Monday, but he wanted to come out and practice. And then he may have played his best game against USC. He'd tell you that wasn't his best game (Nebraska), but we didn't play well as a team. You'd never hear him say that, though. He's a good kid, a good young man and he'll bounce back.

On NU's secondary - They are really good. I'd like to have a couple of them on my team (laughter). They are very well-coached, which might get overlooked. But from a technique standpoint, they are very solid. They also do a good job communicating, and that's where it starts. But when it comes to 1-1 matchups, they are all big and strong and playmakers. And the last game we really got knocked around by their corners - they are a big, physical group.

On the 8-year UW bowl drought - UW has a very proud tradition of national championships, Rose Bowls, and they have experienced some great times. We have an extremely loyal fan base, and they are deserving of this, as well as hopefully getting back to league championships and hopefully one day competing again for national championships. UW will be well-represented at the Holiday Bowl.

On changing things around and being a very tight-knit team right now - It takes time. You have to lose some guys and gain some guys. It's been a two-year process of losing tight games in the fourth quarter to winning those same type games this year. Through the highs and lows, those things can bring you together. And it's a tribute to guys like Locker, Mason Foster, Nate Williams - those guys were very willing from the beginning to do everything we asked of them. We've created a culture where the younger guys have bought in.

On stopping NU's run game - It's a real challenge, especially when all three (Martinez, Helu, and Burkhead) are all out there. You've got the zone read, the power plays, the quarterback runs, the Wildcat…we have to be much better with our gap integrity than we were the first game. That's how we were exposed the first time around. At the end of the day we have to stop the big plays. Hopefully we can fit the run sooner in plays to slow them down.

On Taylor Martinez - He's really fast. I saw it as he was going right down our sideline on that long run (laughter). He plays the game with a real passion and it looks like he has a high football IQ. He's an explosive guy. He looked calm, he looked like he belonged. He handled himself great.

On what's changed with the UW defense after the NU game - Probably our gap integrity. Early in the season we had guys that were trying to make every play. Now they just do their job. But at the end we have to have better gap integrity.

On Locker's health - Now he practices with a smile on his face instead of a grimace. He's probably the healthiest he's been since October.

On what he expects from Locker Thursday - I expect him to play a great game. The key is to make sure he doesn't have to do everything. It's going to be a challenge for me to make sure I put him in good situations, so that he can also use players like Chris Polk and Jermaine Kearse to help make plays.

On the all black uniforms for the game - It was a collective decision, but something I wanted to do too. We were all in agreeance. It's a present to the seniors, a way to send them out the right way.

Here's video of Steve Sarkisian's press conference, courtesy of BigRedReport's Steve Ryan.


Steve Sarkisian Tuesday Practice Quotes
Posted 12/29, 8:09 pm

On the schedule the next couple days: "It will be kind of a typical, what would be a Thursday night for us – we're off, our players are off and we like to refer to it as ‘Date Night' with the coaches and their wives, we finally get a chance to see our wives. It will be, really, a typical Friday outside of a luncheon in the middle of the day, but outside of that we'll treat it like any Friday before a game. We'll start meetings at 2:30, lead it's way through ‘walk-through', then we'll go tour the stadium, back to the hotel for night meetings, go to bed and treat it like a typical Saturday."

On the mood of the team: "I think we're a little antsy, we're ready to go and you could probably feel that in tonight's practice, it was very spirited and guys are excited. All in all, it's been a great 3 ½ weeks or whatever it's been since we started this process. I'm really proud of our kids, with the way they've approached this thing and done everything we've asked. They've really prepared well – mentally and physically – and then taken the time to enjoy the experiences along the way of this thing from the banquet, to the practices back up in Seattle, to the flight down, to the experiences here at the zoo and Sea World and today with the USS Ronald Reagan and so, they've embraced all those things but at the same time they've done a really nice job of focusing at the task on hand and that's to come down here and play a football game."

On players' status: "Talia (Crichton) won't be able to go, Sean Parker won't be able to go, Cody Bruns will be able to go, Chris Robinson will be able to go and Ryan Tolar will be able to go."

On the seniors: "I think they're all very appreciative, but I'm thankful for our senior class. For everything they've been through, the adversity on the field and off the field, the ups, the downs, the coaching change, for four or five years of it, and then to what we went through this year, I'm appreciative of the fact that they came to work every day with the correct mindset and set a real tone for this football program as we moved forward. This is a great reward for them to be able to play in a bowl game before their career was over and they'll always be part of this family, we're always here for them, and hopefully some of the experiences and lessons that they learned over their time here that they can carry with them throughout life and use as motivators, it's not always how things start, adversity is going to strike and it's how you deal with that adversity and what you do with that can shape where you're headed and hopefully they can take that with them."

On unveiling the jerseys that will be worn: "We'll reveal them tomorrow at the luncheon when we have to wear our jerseys."

On punt returns: "We'll start with Devin (Aguilar) and then we'll just see how the game goes."

On if Bruns will hold: "Yes."

On Chris Polk possibly going pro: "We'll deal with that after the game."

On bowl preparation and learning from what Pete Carroll did: "Our football clocks, the way they are structured is that we're used to practice Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and then play Saturday so it's really a six day event, but really five days leading up to the event and what I notice and I think Pete did too, sometimes when you practice in blocks that are two and three practices at a time we lose that rhythm and so that's why we had the three early, but I wanted to make sure we had the rhythm of the practices for our football clocks to get right and by doing that, it allows us to gameplan before we even leave Seattle and our players get the gameplan one full week like they normally would for a regular game. Then they get down here and yeah there's a few different distractions, so they get the gamplan re-implemented to them all over again, the same practice structure, to a point to where we really had this things honed in and understand what we're trying to get done and in turn hopefully we're executing at a really high level."

On any changes to his bowl routine that Carroll set up at USC: "Very little to be quite honest with you. Outside of the structure of maybe today's practice was a little bit different than what we would have done there, but everything else is to a tee."

On whether Tolar will start: "We haven't made that determination yet."

On visiting the USS Ronald Reagan: "That was a very cool event. It humbles you in a sense, you're sitting there, the sailors are sitting at the table with you and you look in their eyes and you realize these are 18, 19, 20 year-old kids, the same (age) kids that we work with every day and they're out in the Middle East, defending our country. It humbles you, it was a very humbling experience for our team, but then again, very appreciative of what our soldiers do for our country. It was a real honor for us, it was an honor to represent the Unviersity of Washington, it was an honor to represent the Pac 10, and a memory that I know will last for a long time with our players."

Any highlights: "I got to sit in the Captain's Chair, that was pretty cool, but just to see how massive that ship is, to think that it's four football fields long, somebody can tell you that, but until you actually stand there and look in both directions to see the mass of that ship that was kind of mind boggling for me."


Holiday Bowl Parking Info
Posted 12/29, 8:40 am

With 14,000 spaces for 66,000 seats at qualcomm stadium, the parking lot is expected to be full one to two hours before thursday's bridgepoint education holiday bowl. fans planning to drive to the game are urged to carpool and arrive at least two hours before the 7 p.m. kickoff. the parking lot opens at 8 a.m.

the 33rd annual game features the nebraska cornhuskers and washington huskies. bowl officials expect a crowd of about 60,000.

the following areas also can be used for event parking, and will serve as overflow lots in the event the qualcomm stadium lot fills up:

San Diego State University: From I-8, exit College Avenue and go south. Paid visitor parking is available in designated campus lots. Parking rates vary by location. Take the San Diego Trolley from the SDSU Transit Center to access the Stadium.

Mission City Corporate Center (2365 Northside Drive, adjacent to the stadium): Take Friars Road west to Northside Drive. Parking is $30.

Marriott Mission Valley: Take Friars Rd. and exit Qualcomm Way to Rio San Diego Dr. Parking is $15. Take the San Diego Trolley to access the Stadium from the Rio Vista Station.

Town and Country Hotel: Continue on Friars Rd. West past Fashion Valley Mall and exit Fashion Valley Rd. Parking is $15. Take the San Diego Trolley from the Fashion Valley Station to access the Stadium.

Fans are also asked to consider taking the San Diego Trolley to the game. The San Diego Trolley's Green and Special Event Lines, with connections to Mission Valley, downtown and East County stops just steps away from the entry gates at Qualcomm Stadium and is a great alternative to driving to the game. For general information, mapping trips and schedules, or to order special Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl Commemorative Day Tripper passes (good for unlimited rides on trolley or bus) visit www.sdmts.com.


Chris Polk Quotes
Posted 12/28, 12:01 am

First thoughts of being back in Cali - "It's a great feeling. It's always great to be back home, back under the California sun, seeing friends and family. But it's also great that we have an extra game to prove what we've got and we're blessed with an opportunity to play again."

On what he's been telling his teammates about Cali - "I've been telling them to get used to the sun and the hot women. That's what we have to offer. And there's always something to do in California. That's what I've been telling them."

On the intensity of the practices in Cali - "We always have an emphasis on intense practices, and coach (Sarkisian) always preaches that we should always be the same. It's good for us, because come game time we'll be ready."

On how his body is holding up - "I'm always sore, but come game time I'll be ready 100 percent. I live in the treatment room. I'm always getting treatment.

On his latest ailment - "My back…just keep taking hits, day-in and day-out, it takes a toll. It's just a little sore, but as long as I put some heat on it and then ice it down so it'll be fine."

On getting as many carries as he did against Washington State - "I hope so, but whatever we have in the game plan I'm going to run it to perfection and give it all I got."
Nick Holt Quotes
Posted: 12/27, 9:41 pm

On the importance of getting turnovers against Nebraska: "Hopefully they can put the ball on the ground for us. But we have to create it. If we fly around and swarm and get after the football, it'll be out. We just have to make sure that when it is out we gotta get on it faster than they do. They fumbled it a couple of times against us – one we got and we ended up scoring a touchdown in the second quarter to make it 21-14 or something like that, make it a ballgame, and then they had a fumble in the third or fourth quarter and we didn't get on it so we gotta make sure the opportunities are there and we gotta take advantage of them."

On the d-line being thin: "It's been thin since I've been here. We just move on and we go with the next guy. We say the same things, unfortunately. Quite honestly we've got three startind d-linemen out, starting with Cameron [Elisara] and then you got Talia [Crichton] and then Semisi [Tokolahi]. Those are three guys who've played a lot of football for us. We just gotta move on and play the guys that are healthy."

On dealing with playing against guys, like Nebraska, who are so much bigger than them: "Well, we just do the best we can and we need to play with really good pad level and really good technique and we have to chase the ball really well and keep some guys fresh but we can't do anything about their size right now and we can't do anything about our size right now so we just have to do the best job we can."

On whether it's a matter of out-scheming or out-quicking: "Well we've tried to do some of that, both scheming and trying to out-quick some people, but it's best when we go back to just simple football with our guys right now that we have. We play better when we're very simple, so hopefully that happens on Thursday night."

On whether Nebraska is an example of being too complex in their schemes: "We probably tried to do too much. But we got a battle on Thursday night."

On how the kids are handling the bowl game: "It was good. It was good tempo today. I think they're starting to feel the sense of urgency now. It's getting closer and closer and I think they're starting to get a little excited about it."

On whether Nebraska countered their blitzing well the first game: "No. At times it was [effective]. It was some of our base calls that weren't effective. We just didn't play some of the base stuff very well. We missed tackles. We missed two tackles that killed us. The first play of the second half, a missed tackle and then later, next series, a missed tackle by some of our guys. We just didn't do the little things very well, tackling."

On whether Nebraska was one of the biggest lines they faced: "They're one of the bigger [groups]…but we've faced some good offense lines throughout the season. We thought after that they did a nice job, but they're not much different than SC's line and Stanford's o-line, and Oregon's o-line. We've kind of been used to some bigger line, but they're up there."
Cort Dennison Quotes
Posted 12/27, 9:41 pm

On his tattoos: "I got a cross on my back. It's for three people that died, and I'm a pretty spiritual person. It says ‘my guardian angel' right below it and I feel like I always have someone looking over me. Then I have carpe diem right here (on his right shoulder) which means seize the day. I have that tattoo because I lost a friend in high school and you never know when you're going to go and you should seize every opportunity you have in life. And then I have Isaiah 41:10 on my [right] arm. It's a bible verse that I believe in. I got a storm around it and the storm, I've been through a lot of stuff in my life, personal stuff, and I feel like I've been able to get through a lot of things."

On how his tattoos are reflective of always being an underdog and having a chip on his shoulder: "I feel like that's how it's been for me my whole life, but I'm a competitor and that's the kind of stuff I relish in. I love being the underdog; I love people not looking at me as the best. That just makes me work harder and it makes me prove me wrong and when I'm able to prove them wrong I'm the one with the smile on my face and they can't say anything about it. I'm never going to settle for anything, I always realize there's room for improvement in my life and when you keep labeling me as an underdog or something like that I'm just going to keep outworking people and proving people wrong."

On keeping things fun and light in sunny San Diego: "Yeah, especially during the day when we do the Sea World and San Diego Zoo activities and stuff, but when it gets to the practices it's intense. This week's been really intense as far as practices go and there's an on and off switch. We can turn that off switch on when we go have fun but when we hit the field that on switch needs to go on and we all need to realize that we came down here for one reason and that's to play a game."

On the team trip to Sea World: "It was fun. Me, Nate, Almeda, and Mason got to play with some dolphins and play catch with them with footballs and stuff. We went to Shamu after that and that was cool. We sat right at the bottom and wore some ponchos and got wet. It was just an experience to take with you for the rest of your life and I'm really happy we got to do it."

On who was bigger, Almeda or the dolphins: "Oh my god…'Meda. I guarantee you if ‘Meda jumped in the pool, half the pool would overflow. I mean, ‘Meda's Shamu-sized. We were at the zoo yesterday and hippos were swimming around and I thought it was ‘Meda for a second. I love ‘Meda. You can write that, but I love him."

On the Camel that almost jumped the fence: "The Camel? I went running. I thought the Camel was coming after me and I had 4.4 speed right there."

On the difference between practices in Seattle and in San Diego: "I just think it's in a different location. The intensity's still there, the plays we're still running. I think everything's still there it's just we're in a new setting and the game's getting closer."

On the difference school not being involved makes: "Oh, it's huge. With school involved, especially with finals week and stuff, you have to worry about football and get your focus back on the books. It's huge not having school. It's football and football only and I like it like that."

On the difference between this and the last time they played Nebraska: "We're a whole different team. I feel like our d-line has really improved and I feel like some kids have really stepped up like Quinton [Richardson] and Victor [Aiyewa]. Some individual guys have stepped. We're a totally different team and I'm excited for the game on Thursday."

On the extra ‘umph' not playing the first game against Nebraska gives him: "It's huge. I'm a competitor and it sucked having to sit out and watch from the sidelines. I was trying to help Garret [Gilliland] out as much as possible but it was hard for him because he's a freshman and that was his first start. I'm really excited for this game just for the fact because they beat us so bad last time and if you're a competitor and you like having that chip on your shoulder you want a competition like that again because they got us pretty good the first time and they're a really good football team and we understand that."

On Nebraska's physicality placing him as a central figure in this game: "It's a challenge. I'm not going to back down from it. They're definitely one of the more physical teams in the country and they pound people, they pound the rock and I'm really excited for it."
Monday Steve Sarkisian Notes
Posted: 12/27, 7:04 pm

First, there were a number of high school coaches and recruits in attendance. From what I could see, there were HS coaches from Long Beach Jordan, Tustin, St. John Bosco and others there. As far as recruits, John Timu and Siosifa Tufunga were both there. I got confirmation that Timu will be enrolling at UW very soon, in time for winter conditioning. In talking to the Jordan coach that was there, Timu is now at 225 pounds. He looks really good.

For Tustin, Faitele Faafoi was there. Sounds like schools are waiting for a good SAT score from him, and UW is one of those schools. Don't be surprised if they trip him out in January if his score improves. Faafoi has been a four-year starter for Tustin, the same school that produced current UW DT Chris Robinson. There was a 2013 player there - David Maka. Remember that name. He's the younger brother of Taniela Maka, who IIRC signed with UNLV last year. This kid is a beast. 6-3, 315 and growing. His coach - Myron Miller - told me that he expects Maka to be 6-6 and 330 by the time he's done.

I saw one other prospect that caught my eye - Tyrone Sauls from El Cajon Christian. Good sized kid, a linebacker. According to Scout, Oregon has offered, and I wouldn't be surprised if UW has as well.

Saw some former players - Joe Toledo, Owen Biddle and Adam Seery were all at practice. It was great to see them. Yogi Roth from Fox Sports was also at practice, and I'm sure you'll hear more from Yogi as the week goes on.

Onto the UW news...

Semisi Tokolahi - his left foot was in a boot, but he was still all smiles.
Johri Fogerson and Deontae Cooper - shorts and jersey, working out.
Talia Crichton - not practicing. Sark said after practice that he's pretty much been ruled out of Thursday's Holiday Bowl.
Zach Fogerson, Sean Parker and Cody Bruns - in red. Parker hasn't been ruled out of the game, but Sark said that he's very doubtful to see action. Asked about the stingers, he said they aren't anywhere near the level of Elisara's and Savannah's stingers, and they fully expect him to be ready in the spring.

Cody Bruns, even though he was in red, was working with the holders. Tomorrow the team has to submit their final rosters for the game, and Sark said he's very hopeful to include Bruns, because he's a very valuable member of that special teams unit. He's still progressing from his broken clavicle suffered in the Apple Cup.
Coach's Corner
Posted: 12/27, 12:27 am

Coach Baird lays out his plan for a Washington upset of Nebraska. Do you agree?

Coach's Corner
D'Andre Goodwin Quotes
Posted: 12/26, 4:00 pm

On this being his last game: "I'm excited for the game. Excited that we've turned this program around as seniors and as a coaching staff and I'm just excited to have another game to play."

On being at a bowl game: "I got to spend Christmas with my teammates for once. Today is my birthday so I got to spend that with them, I'm having a good time."

On being in San Diego for bowl week: "We had a little Christmas dinner, some karoke and some skits, so it's been a good time. The best (at karoke), I would have to say was Marek Domanski and the worst was Jesse Callier, he sang Rianna, it was terrible. All the receivers got up and sang – we sang Journey's ‘Don't Stop Believing'."

On the gameface: "Our coaches make sure, every time we're at practice, that we're locked in and we're getting the work done to be ready for Nebraska."
Quinton Richardson Quotes
Posted: 12/26, 3:58 pm

On getting ready for a bowl game: "I love it. I love San Diego a lot. It's great to say we're getting ready for the Holiday Bowl and getting ready to play Nebraska."

On the difference in getting ready for the bowl down in San Diego: "It hasn't been that different. We're focused on what we have to do and know we have a great opponent to play, so that's what we're focused on."

On what UW has to prove: "We're excited to be here, but we want to prove to the world that we belong here. There's a lot of doubters, so that gives us motivation."

On playing loose: "If you don't loosen up and you're all tight, you're going to make mistakes, so you just have to out with no fear and just play like we know we can play."

On showing the world they are better now that back in September when they played Nebraska: "That was embarrassing for us and we know we are better than that. I know we will play better and that's where are heads are at right now and how we've prepared, we expect to come out and play a lot better and make a lot more plays."
Doug Nussmeier Quotes
Posted: 12/26, 3:57 pm

On watching the film from the September game vs. Nebraska: "They're a good football team and we didn't execute like we needed to and there's some things we have to do differently."

On changing things up from the end of the season: "Obviously, we've had a lot of time here and a lot of practices to look at doing some different things, but so has Nebrasaka, so obviously you're gameplanning and trying to find different advantages as I'm sure they are."

On Chris Polk's game in the Apple Cup: "Chris has done a tremendous job and the line have blocked really well and he's done a good job of getting down hill and like I've said before several times, he's a heavy back and when he hits you, he feels it, so we have to make sure he gets his touches."

On what it's been like for the seniors: "It's like anything in life – when you get knocked down, you have to come back and respond and that's when you can tell what type of character someone has and that's what they've done for us. Now they have one more game to make their legacy and go out with a win, that's an important thing I think for all of them."
Sunday Steve Sarkisian Quotes
Posted: 12/26, 3:56 pm

Ryan Tolar Status: "I would imagine (he will start). It's the same thing to do with the knee that he had before and he just kind of tweeked it again."

On Chris Robinson: "He looked good today and did some nice things."

On Crichton's injury forcing things: "It is what it is, we've got what we've got and that's kinda how we've been playing it. Fortunately, we've got some guys that are versatile like DeShon Matthews and Everrette Thompson who can move around to different spots, so we can roll guys (through) and keep them fresh."

On Cody Bruns possibly playing: "What they told us, initially, from the very beginning was four to six weeks with the broken clavicle and it's healing great so we're hopeful he's able to hold in the game because obviously the that batter that we've been talking about since the spring with (Brendan) Lopez, Bruns and (Erik) Folk is critical."

On the bowl week festivities being a distraction: "It's not that much different than a normal game week or work week in the sense that we've all got our own personal lives outside of this little football world that we live in and whether it's doing something with the family in your off time or doing it with the players you still have some free time and sure, you never completely turn off the game, but you have your moments where you can focus on other things."

On Sean Parker's status: "Has not been cleared."

On playing some younger players: "We're playing the game to win. I think the reward is to come down here and do this, but hopefully we'll give ourselves the best chance to win the game and whether that's personnel, by scheme or design , whatever that may be, that's the whole idea behind it."

On practice today: "In my opinion that was as spirited of a practice as we've had all year and so I think they did a nice job of focusing on the task at hand when we've had to focus on football and when we'v had a nice chance to spend some time together, they've been able to relax and do that as well."

On Jake Locker's bowl experience: "I think he's enjoying it. That's the whole key to this thing, enjoying the experience because experiences are something that no one can take from you and they get to keep this for a lifetime and I think Jake has really tried to enjoy and take in this experience."

On Locker being better vs. Nebraska: "I think you have to look at us as a team. We didn't play very good football offensively in the game as a team and ultimately, you look at the quarterback, but just like when a team scores 50 points, generally the quarterbnack gets a lot of praise for that, but that comes with the position, it's the nature of the beast. I think for us wanting Jake to play better this time around, we need to do a better job as an offensive staff and an offensive football team in order to enure his success as the game comes."

On how the team can improve to help Locker: "We can be more physical offensively, not only at the line of scrimmage, but with our wideouts to create separation. I think our ability to win on first and second down in order to put is in manageable third down situations, not third and longs; ultimately we have to be able to run the ball and pass protect and when you do that, you give the quarterback more time to make his plays."

On Chris Izbicki leaving: "It was surprising to me and disappointing in a sense, but we all have made tough decisions in our minds and in our own worlds and things that what we want for our future and where we're headed and Chris made that decision. He's still going to graduate from the University of Washington, he's got two quarters left of school, he's going to get his degree and move on to the next phase of his life."

So Izbicki is done with football?: "Yes."

On the tight end position: "We're moving forward. We touched on it last week. It's been challenging with the tight end situation in a sense, we're so accustomed to playing with tight ends and multiple tight ends, that this year has been challenging. We've gone to more open sets and it's been fun to look at it and approach it that way, but it has been challenging, but we have to improve that situation heading into next year."

On who might have taken a jump forward since the end of the year: "Devin Aguilar is a guy that looks like he's getting a little more burst in his step and we need him. This is a challenging game, for us, from a secondary standpoint, with what Nebraska does, we need those three guys (Jermaine Kearse, D'Andre Goodwin, Aguilar) to have solid games for us and on the defensive side of the ball, Taz Stevenson has really been coming, and for a young guy who was a safety, moved to running back and now back at safety, and now is playing in a lot of our nickel situations and he's shown a lot more confidence and belief in what he's doing."

On Will Shamburger's playing time: "The fortunate thing for Will is he's still doing a lot of good things on special teams and his future is very bright."

On James Johnson practicing better: "I'd like to see him be able to do some stuff for us on Thursday. I think yesterday was his best practice of the year."
Sunday Steve Sarkisian Practice Notes
Posted: 12/26, 3:13 pm

Grinolds and I high-tailed it to USD from LAX in time to catch most of practice. It was a full-pads practice.

Talia Crichton was not in pads today, and Sark confirmed that he tweaked the same knee but they are still holding out hope he may be able to do something in the Holiday Bowl.

Cody Bruns was out there in his jersey and shorts. Sark said that when he got hurt in the Apple Cup they said he would be out 4 to 6 weeks with broken clavicle, but he's healing great and they are hopeful he'll be able to hold in the game.

Sean Parker will not play, presumably not having shaken off his stinger injury.

This was the first time we've been able to ask Sark about the departure of Chris Izbicki, and he said he was surprised that Chris left. Sark also confirmed that Izbicki has two quarters left and he's going to finish out his degree, but he's done with football.

Ryan Tolar tweaked his knee yesterday, but he was back today. Greg Christine worked at left guard when Tolar wasn't in there.

Sark also confirmed that Greg Walker was out with back spasms, but they are anticipating he'll be back too.

Sark said today's practice was as spirited as they've had all year. One play that characterized what was going on was a pass to Jermaine Kearse, and Kevin Smith blindsided Taz Stevenson, one true frosh decleating another. Nate Williams and Quinton Richardson were jawing a bit with Smith after the play.

Speaking of WR's, Sark said that James Johnson may have had his best practice of the year on Christmas, and the sophomore from Valley Center - a suburb of San Diego - looked to have family on hand, watching his every move.

Sark mentioned Devin Aguilar and Taz Stevenson as guys that have stood out since practices began in SD.

We'll have more once we get settled in down here. Scott Eklund should have some player and coach quotes up in a little while.


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