Steve Sarkisian Arizona Quotes

SEATTLE - Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian spoke with the press Saturday night after his Washington Huskies defeated Arizona 42-31 to become bowl-eligible for the second-consecutive season. He also talked about having a slow start, and relying on RB Chris Polk and the UW defense to help pick up the slack.

Opening Statement - "I'm proud of our team for finding a way to win. It was not an easy game and we knew it was not going to be an easy game coming in. Arizona has so much offense and the quarterback and all the issue they can provide you…we knew it was not going to be easy.

"I was not prepared for us to play kind of out of sorts, in a sense. I felt like we were a bit out of sorts. I look at the state and you know, eight penalties, pretty uncharacteristic for us. I thought the interception where James (Johnson) has the ball and their guy catches it and returns it for a touchdown and just a lot of those type of plays tonight that didn't go out way, I think could have set the stage maybe a couple years ago where maybe we would have gotten beat tonight.

"But everything we talked about for Monday and up until this game is that this is a mentally tough group. They respond extremely well to adversity. They battled, they competed,l we made adjustments, and they adjusted with us.

"Ultimately we got turnovers in the second half. we were efficient in the red zone and Chris Polk is just a fantastic player."

On Chris Polk - "The way he performed tonight - 34 carries, over 100 yards, five touchdowns, another 100 receiving…I think you guys can start writing articles about Chris Polk now, because he deserves it.

"I don't know if any other player in our program now for the last two-and-a-half years has had more of an impact, the changes that we have made an the progress that we have made as a football program. I don't know if I can pick out on single guy that has had that much of an impact as he had had. We saw at the end of last season when we jumped on his back and ran the football and ran it well late in the year.

"He has had just a tremendous season so far this year and continues to show me things - his work ethic. We knew coming in this season, one of the ways we wanted him to get more involved was throwing him the ball and doing more things out of the backfield and we are seeing that.

"The physicality which he runs the football is obviously very evident and then one of the other key things for us is when we are down and tight, our ability to be able to pound the ball and run the ball into the end zone, and that is something I have been trying to address myself in play-calling, and it showed up tonight."

On where Polk ranks with the guys he's coached at USC - "He's right up there. He arguably could be the most complete back I've ever had. Six-foot, 225, the ability to run between the tackles, the ability to run the ball on the perimeter, his pass-catching ability out of the backfield - it probably makes him the most complete guy. There's probably other guys that were obviously faster, or bigger, or could catch better or could run in-between the tackles better - but the overall package of what he provides is what makes him so special."

On the Hartvigson call - "I don't get it. I'm not going to get into it because I'll say something stupid and I'll get fined for it. I don't understand it."

On improvement from the defense - "Tremendous amounts. That's a dang good offensive football team, and we knew that coming in. The quarterback, the receivers - we knew it was going to be a big challenge. What I was most proud of our guys about was that they adjusted to the game as the game went on. And then they made plays on the ball, which we hadn't really been doing most recently. To get those interceptions were huge plays. I thought our pressure on the quarterback was much better tonight than we've had in the past. I thought we did some things to get after Foles that were effective - whether it was with the four-man rush or pressures. And it's unfortunate that we kind of let them back in the game with the pick-six they got for 91 yards, because at that point our defense had really kind of found their stride.

"That offensive football team we played is pretty dang good, and I think we held them to about 50 yards under their season average, so to me that's a win. They've been moving the ball and scoring a lot of points on a lot of people, and we got stops at critical times. I loved the fact that they were 3-11 on third down; our defense got off the field on third down, which is something we've got to continue to improve upon.

"So there were a lot of positives, but also there's still a lot of things to work on that we'll have to address."

On blitzing more - "We mixed it up pretty good. I talked Monday that we were a bit hesitant in that game versus Stanford, and sometimes to eliminate being hesitant - we create the aggression for them by calling those pressures, to get those guys going - instead of maybe having to read and react, just go. I thought it was effective for us, and it showed up. It was great for Princeton to get the sack there late coming off the edge in the fourth quarter. I thought it was effective for us, but it was to generate ourselves to move us and also to tax them in the things that they were doing."

On if that's now part of UW's defensive identity - "I think that is part of our identity, quite honestly. We believe in pressuring. That's not a bad thing; that's just who we are. Last game, Stanford forced us out of our identity in a sense by getting into that goal-line offense and it's hard to blitz goal-line offense. When we have our chances we like to pressure, and think that is who we are. We're aggressive by nature in our style of play, whether offensively or defensively, and I thought it was effective for us really in the second half of the game tonight."

On getting bowl eligible - Huge. Huge. I don't want that to go by the wayside, like it's ho hum - we're bowl-eligible. It's a grind. This conference is tough. To get to six wins is great, and it's a tremendous accomplishment for our players and our coaches and our university and everybody involved in our athletic administration deserves that reward of a bowl game…but the cool thing of having accomplished that now instead of the last game of the year - we can sit on that and there's still a lot of work that needs to be done. There's a lot of tremendous football games ahead of us, but we do have that in our back pocket, which is great. We celebrated that with the team in the locker room. We'll enjoy it for 24 hours, and then we'll get back on the horse on Monday."

On falling behind early - "We weren't very good offensively early in the game. I wasn't surprised that they moved the ball. They were going to move it. I loved the fact that we held them to the field goal the second drive to kind of settle in. We were just out of sorts offensively. So we'll have to address that and figure out why and what was going on with some of our stuff early in the game - but we were out of sorts. I've seen us better offensively. The numbers showed up, but there's a couple drops in there, a couple crucial penalties in there, a couple decisions by the quarterback in there - and probably when I assess the film a couple poor play-calls. So we'll look at it and figure out why it happened and where that happened, but I'd like us to start better than we did for sure. I don't like looking up and it's the second quarter and we're down 10-0 and I think after two drives we had minus-10 yards or something like that. That's not very good efficiency for us."

On the Fellner call - "I don't get it. Again, I'll make the call and I'll try to find out why, because we need to coach our players. I'm not sure how to coach them if I can't hit a guy in the shoulders. We'll try to figure out what the ruling is and why the ruling is what it is, but obviously some frustration there on a couple calls tonight."

On that call affective the crowd, which in turn affected the team - "I think a little. Some of those points in the game, I think we got distracted by it too, in a sense. There's a fine line in there to feed off the emotion of the game and the fans, but also not get caught up in worrying about the officiating. It's out of our control, there's nothing we can do about that. We have to line up and play the next snap. We'll try and assess exactly what happened, and again - I need to understand the ruling on it so I can move forward in how to coach a Nate Fellner or Sean Parker, or those guys at safety in exactly how to play that type of ball."

On a guy like Chris Polk helping the offense get back in sorts - "Well, I went and leaned on him pretty good - 34 carries. That's probably a little more than I'd like to give him on a normal game basis, but I felt in this game we were just a little bit out of rhythm. When you get that way, for me the best way to try and find that rhythm is getting back to running the football and believing in running the ball. Chris really responded, to his credit." Top Stories