Steve Sarkisian game quotes - Utah

SALT LAKE CITY - Here's all of Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian's post-game thoughts after the Huskies defeated Utah 31-14 in front of a crowd of 45,412 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Sark talked about his defense, getting his quarterback back on track, and the amazing performance by Chris Polk.

Opening Statement - "I thought obviously our defense was the key to this ball game. Their ability to keep us around while the offense could get going I thought was critical. Obviously two big turnovers there inside the five-yard line the first half were huge plays. And then in the second half, I thought our quarterback really responded. We challenged him to get back to the level of play that he's capable of playing at, and then the offensive line and Chris Polk, I thought, really dominated the second half of the football game. I couldn't be more prouder of our guys. We continue to learn about ourselves, and who we are and what we're about. I say it often, but I really believe that this is a resilient group. And we've faced a lot of adverse situations here for the last two-and-a-half years, and every time we're faced with one, our guys respond, and they respond with flying colors. They did it again tonight."

How big a win is this - "I think this is a huge win, and we knew coming in that this was a big game for our program; an opportunity to get to 2-0 in the North, heading into a BYE week I thought was big. And to come on the road to this place, Pac-12 opener - we knew it was going to be a great challenge, but if we could get out of here with a win I thought it would be big for us. And it proved that way."

On if the third quarter was one of Polk's best ever - "He's had some pretty big quarters. (laughs) I don't know, I'd have to do a history lesson. But I thought he really took over the game there in the third quarter. Dummy me - I should have handed him the ball on that third-and-one, or he might have had an even better quarter. We can all get better."

On the halftime message - "We're not playing our best football as a team. Two phases were playing really well; obviously special teams - that was a huge play on the opening kickoff, they were doing a great job...and the defense was playing great. We just had to get our offense back in order, and part of that was getting Keith in order. For the first time this year we saw him a little jittery in the pocket there in the first half, and just had to get him settled down and playing within the system - allowing things to work and to be there and not rushing or hurrying. We were able to do that in the second half."

On what the difference was with the defense this week - "I just think we're growing. I think we're growing. And like I've said since the beginning of the season as we moved forward - we have a chance to be a good defense. And we think we can improve, and we'll improve weekly. There's no doubt we did. Our coverage was better tonight once we settled in on a couple of the deep balls. And our ability to create turnovers is a trait that we love about our defense. We haven't done that the last couple of weeks, but for us to bounce back tonight, to create five turnovers, was big."

On regretting the early 4th down call - "No. No. Maybe the type of know I had two calls sitting right there in front of me - one was a run and one was a pass - and we called it and do it...but I don't ever worry about the 'what if's' and the consequences. You go with who you are, and you have to believe in who we are - and that's who we are. I didn't feel great about a field goal at that point, and it's fourth-and-1. We had some momentum on our side, so we went for it."

On the improvement in the OL - "They were doing a few things up front to us defensively with some different odd packages and subbing guys in and moving them around, so we'll have to get some things cleaned up there. And then we subbed in Hatchie there a little bit for Kohler to settle him down I think was good as well. Any time you start going and you get some momentum, you can feed off of that. I think the offensive line fed off that momentum."

On going for the field goal instead of the TD at the end of the first half - "The thought process was, I didn't want to give them the ball back. And believe me, we were trying to score a touchdown. But also you manage the clock accordingly to ensure the fact that we end the first half with the ball in our possession. We're pretty good at doing that historically, and we were able to do it again tonight."

On how badly they wanted to keep Utah to 7 points at the end of the game - "You know, it's a pride thing. And our defense had such a good's a pride thing. And credit to Utah for continuing to battle and a young quarterback making his plays. But it's a pride thing - you want to try and hold them out, but I'll take 31-14."

On the win, knowing they now have a BYE and can enjoy it a little longer - "I don't think we'll enjoy it for a couple weeks; maybe a couple of days. The BYE is at a good time for us, because we're a beat-up football team right now, as you guys well know. So it'll be an opportunity for us to get healthy. It'lll also give us an opportunity for a lot of our young kids to really get some significant snaps and reps this week in practice as we move forward. And then we've got to get ready for a tough stretch here in the Pac-12."

On having Semisi in there and shutting down their run game - "I thought we were a big, physical defensive line - whether it was with Semisi, or Danny, or Lawrence - I thought they brought a real physical presence to the inside to go along with Alameda, and then Everrette on the edge. I thought we contained things well. A credit to Josh Shirley holding up in some of that run game stuff too."

On Keith Price and early jitters - "Everyone is writing about him now and how good he maybe you try and play to the hype. And then they got to him a couple times there in the first half and put some pressure on him. But I thought to our coaches' credit, and to our players, our team's credit - we challenged Keith in a joking manner, in a sense, to see if he could get back to become himself again. And he obviously did that. He played a tremendous second half."

On any thoughts about facing Norm Chow - "This is now been four-straight years of doing this, playing Norm - so no."

On the health of the team coming out of the game - "We're pretty good. Kasen rolled his ankle pretty good there on the one punt return backed up and the kid just bombed that long punt - I don't know how far it was, but he nailed it. But outside of that we came out pretty good."

On Keith Price getting his ankle rolled up a little bit - "A little bit on his ankle, on Keith's ankle a little bit...but nothing serious."

On it being a good time for a BYE for Keith - "I think're talking about a guy that's playing on two sore knees and now a sprained ankle. So this week will be good for Keith as much as all of our guys. We've got a lot of guys...we've got to get Nate Fellner back on the field obviously, and Jesse Callier back on the field healthy so that he's 100 percent. We need to get Quinton Richardson's ankle 100 percent. It's still not quite there yet. There's a lot of health issues where we can get better as a team."

On how he got on Price in a 'joking manner' - "That's how we operate, and that's how our team is. Part of that is because that's Keith's personality. Keith's got a very carefree attitude. I made him stand up in front of the team, actually and say 'Hey, can we go back to playing Keith Price football now? Is that OK? Can we do that now?'. And he said, 'Sure coach. We can do that.' And the team went nuts in the locker room, and away we went."

On the first play of the game - "We've been saying now...this has been five-straight weeks; we're good on special teams. This isn't a fluke anymore that we cover kicks well. that we return kicks well, that our punt protection is good, that our field goal kicker's good, that our kickoff guy kicked two or three balls out of the end zone tonight. We're a good special teams team because we've put our time it doesn't surprise me anymore."

On getting close to popping a return - "We're close. I think we'll keep seeing that. We've got to tone our gunners down a little bit. We get excited because our gunners are really good and they get down on punts, but we just have to be able to not interfere with punt returners. We have to coach that better next week."

On the elevation not affecting them - "I thought our coaches did a better job of subbing guys early in the game. I thought Kohler might have gotten a little bit winded there in the first half, and it takes some adjusting to...but again...I thought our guys responded well tonight. They really did. They showed a lot of mental toughness in a tough environment. I couldn't be more proud of them."

On just how physical Chris Polk is - "He's a load, man. He's a tough, physical guy. And he's the kind of guy - when he starts running and he starts making those almost feels like he runs even better as the game goes on, because he's in such physical condition and he feels so good about himself and what he's doing that as the defense fatigues, he looks even stronger. And I think we saw that tonight."

On the offensive balance between run and pass, and if that's UW's offensive identity? - "I think we got the run game going a little bit better tonight than we have previously. We've tried to be balanced when you look at our numbers, our sheer numbers running, as compared to passing. Even coming in we've been very balanced - but I thought the yardage beared out a little more. We reaped the dividends on that."

On Polk's long run at the start of the third quarter helping to loosen things up - "I thought the offensive coaches did a nice job at halftime of identifying some things we thought we could take advantage of inside. The players knew exactly what was coming and the types of calls that were coming - and they executed them really well."

On not having to sweat the last few minutes of the game, compared to the last few - "I don't know. If you looked at our coaches, you would have thought it was 31-30 right there on that last series. Our guys were so fired up, and they keep coaching. It feels great, thought. That's a good football team, Utah. It's good to be 4-1, it's good to be 2-0 - but there's still plenty of room for improvement."

On making sure he told the defense they did a good job - "The defense won this football game for us tonight, without a doubt. And I wanted them to know that."

On finding that resilience to get it back on the road - "It's hard. You have that call sheet with all those plays on it, and none of them look good there for a's challenging, and that's the value of having a big-time tailback that you can lean on to get your offense back going again. That's the value of having a tight end that you can hit over the middle for some completions to get the quarterback's confidence back. And that's the value of having a good offensive line that can protect that quarterback to help him get going as well." Top Stories