Steve Sarkisian Apple Cup Quotes

SEATTLE - Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian was in a talking mood Saturday night after his Huskies defeated Washington State 38-21 in the 104th playing of the Apple Cup at Century Link Field. He talked about his offense, defense, Keith Price, Kasen Williams, Alameda Ta'amu, and where his team goes from here as they await their bowl game fate.

Opening Statement - "I just want to say, first of all, how proud I am of our football team. This has been, obvious, a long month for us. We talked about 'want to' and our guys, every day, as hard as it's been, have really brought it. Not to take anything away from the Cougars, or that they didn't deserve it, but I just felt like our guys deserved it. They've worked so hard. I couldn't be more proud of our seniors, for them to go out the way they've gone out, from where their careers started to now, a 7-5 football team going into their second consecutive bowl game, they've been the catalyst for us to change the culture of this football program and the expectations of this football program. I think it was a really fitting way for them to go out in the regular season. I couldn't be more proud of those guys. I thought this was a hard-fought game. Obviously, Washington State is an explosive offensive football team, with Wilson and Karstetter and Galvin, we knew that coming in. For our defense to really step up and to get the quarterback pressure that we knew was going to be needed to be successful in this game, I thought that was a big impact. Also, the efficiency for us to throw the football, they did a nice job defending the run. I thought the keys were efficiency and throwing the ball. Throwing the ball down the field was a key component to the game, and then obviously, the blocked punt by Tutogi with Callier scoring, I thought those were some really key factors in the game. But again, I couldn't be more proud of our guys, and I can't wait to figure out what bowl game we're going to."

On seven sacks - "Well, I think we've been trying to dedicate ourselves to it, but we haven't been able to get a game into the mode to where we can predict that the teams will be throwing the ball as much. When you're playing from behind, they can mix things up and you have to play more run defense. When you can get ahead and force some things, making them throw the ball down the field, you can create some pressure, and we were able to do that tonight."

On Keith Price - "He's an absolute stud. Keith Price is a stud. He's a warrior, an amazing competitor. He wasn't healthy, and you could probably see that watching the game. He wasn't healthy, but we did our best to try and protect him and keep him in the pocket. We tried to give him some things when we wanted to throw it downy the field, to max protect, and when it was a quick game, to get the ball out. It was an amazing season for a young man for whom there were so many expectations of who's going to replace Jake (Locker) and all that pressure. To come into it and to play the way he's played, and to deal with some of the adversity has been great. It hasn't always been easy, and as much as we've been struggling here in the last month, I think he has a little bit too. I think it goes hand-in-hand, and to come back tonight and have one of his best game of the season, I think, speak volumes for him. The reason he missed the series was because he got a cramp in his thumb, so we've seen it all physically throughout the year, and we're learning how to deal with all that stuff. But he's a great competitor and a winner."

On the blocked punt - "It was something we went after. We thought we had a chance…it was really a tremendous individual effort really by Tutogi. He was getting blocked, to get the one hand up…we thought Jesse (Callier) might have a better chance at getting the block, but he ultimately gets the scoop-and-score for the touchdown."

On the future with Keith Price and Kasen Williams - "I'm pretty excited (laughs). You know, they've got a nice rapport. And I think you throw Austin (Seferian-Jenkins) into that mix as well…I think there's a couple plays Austin wishes he could like to have back tonight…a couple balls right there with Keith again…those are two talented kids that have really gotten better as the season has gone on. That's what you want to see when you're playing young football players. Again, the future's very bright for that combination of throwing the ball…along with Kevin Smith. I thought Kevin Smith showed up and did some real nice things for us. He's growing into the position of wide receiver. We're a young, talented team that is learning how to deal with some of the successes and the failures and different things, and those guys are all part of that mix to make that happen."

On Alameda Ta'amu - "We moved him over and played him more at 3-technique tonight and played Danny (Shelton) at the nose like we had last week. And when you're over at 3-technique you can play with a little more of a get off and you're on the guard now instead of the center and guard, so instead of getting double-teamed…you're getting a few more single blocks. And I thought he played really hard too. I thought he got off the football and really was disruptive."

On Josh Shirley playing well - "He did. And altogether with…I think Andrew Hudson played well…I think our whole defensive front in general played hard. Everrette Thompson is as steady as they come. I thought those guys just in general, as a group, kind of got off the football, as you're saying, and were disruptive. We got seven sacks, and we could have probably had a few more, quite honestly, where we let them get away. But I think the constant pressure was good for us, and helped us in the back end in defending the passing game."

On if this was the best defensive effort of the year - "I think so. I thought it was very impressive. Guys, Marquess Wilson is an absolute stud. I punished myself this morning for some unknown reason, and just took a look at the Pac-12 stats. We all know what we think of Robert Woods and Keenan Allen and Marquise Lee - this guy is having a better year stat-wise than any of them. He's averaging over 17 yards a catch. And then you look at Karstetter…we knew it was going to be a tough challenge. So for our guys to raise up and play the way they did, and to get some turnovers - all that stuff take its toll on the morale of a game, and I thought it fed the emotion for us offensively. We, at times, got in our own way offensively with penalties and different things that set us back and put us in some not perfect third down situations that we didn't convert on. And so there's obviously things we can get better there. But overall, the defensive effort for what the expectations were coming in from Washington State - I thought our guys played very well."

On if the players liked playing at Century Link - "It was so cool. They loved it. They loved it. And it was an electric atmosphere with the Apple Cup, and that's regardless of where we played - we could play it at Memorial downtown and the place would be rocking. But the atmosphere here - it felt right, it felt like home. I know our kids are excited, and they'll embrace it next year as they play all our home games here at Century Link."

On if it he feels on track after three years - "It sure feels right. We're getting better. I know sometimes there's days and weeks at a time where it doesn't appear that way, but that's a tribute to our kids. We just continue to put our head back down and get back to work. This has been an amazing process, really. I can't wait for the day someday when I'm old and I retire and I get to write a book about this process, because it's been a fascinating one. All of that goes into it. We always just look at the 60 minutes on Saturday and the result of that, but there's so much more that goes into this thing and that has gone into this thing for three years now that make me very proud. We still have a lot of work to do but I feel like our future is very bright. I don't feel like we're by any means going in the wrong direction; we're going in the right direction. We just have to fight for that consistency factor that has plagued us for three years."

On what the plan is now - "We have to wait for a week. We'll hit the road recruiting here on Monday full-fledged. The kids will have a meeting tomorrow; we won't practice all week. We'll come back and get on the practice field next Saturday and Sunday, which will be primarily dedicated to our young guys again, like we did a year ago. And then we'll figure out where we're headed next Sunday when the bowl selection goes down. And then we'll plan accordingly."

On if this game will shut up the Holt critics - "I don't know. I don't even worry about that stuff."

On how long will Keith rest? - "I don't know. We'll have to meet with the doctors and the trainers and all that stuff as we get into next week. He's beat up; he's not healthy. But I don't think he's as far away is it may seem either. In some aspects he's getting healthier, but he's just got a nagging knee that won't go away. We've got to try and get the swelling and everything so he can get the flexibility back so he can play. We see it - he can't run. I feel for him out there, and we try and do everything we can to protect him. When you see him play, and then you understand where he's at, you appreciate the guy so much. He is a tough son of a gun, and he's a tremendous competitor. He's a great leader. For a redshirt sophomore, the leadership qualities he possesses are amazing. And our team really responds to him."

On seeing the double pass from WSU before - "No, we hadn't see it from them before, but you go into an Apple Cup and all bets are off. Get ready - you're going to get some trick plays and I thought our guys…great play by Desmond Trufant. Marquess Wilson going up, and how many times have we seen him jump up and make that catch? For Desmond to make that play, and then the effort by Sean Parker to get over there and get the interception was a big-time play."

On if he has a bowl preference - "It's now our of our hands, quite honestly. I don't know, I don't know how it all works, quite honestly. I do know how it works from a selection standpoint, but do the bowls that pick - are we what they are looking for? From a program standpoint and a university standpoint and everything we represent, I think this is obviously a very classy university and a very classy football program with a rich history and tradition and a tremendous fan base. We'll see who wants that to be part of their bowl game."

On Ta'amu coming out a couple times - "Yeah, he kind of got his bell rung…y'know, playing defensive lineman you're going to get dinged up pretty good. But we checked him out, he looked good, and he got back in the game."

On Kasen's game - "He's a great competitor and he's a winner. That's not the last of Kasen Williams, that's for sure. I think we're going to get used to seeing plays like that. The expectation level of those types of plays will start to grow and grow. I have a feeling that highlight of him hurdling that guy is going to be shown for quite some time."

On what the offensive game plan was going in - "Score (laughs). I was tired of not scoring. I feel like we hadn't been scoring, and I feel like we hadn't been getting yards in chunks. I feel like we'd been playing small ball, as I like to refer to it, offensively the last couple weeks, and I wanted to make sure we were hitting some doubles and triples and getting the ball down the field. And so we were able to do that throwing the ball. And by doing so I was hoping we could loosen some things up in the running game, because we had a feeling they were going to hunker down on the run, and they did that. And Chris, I thought, finally got free and got going and hit them with a couple draws and things and really kind of put the stamp on it with the final touchdown."

On Ta'amu's play with the emergence of Danny Shelton - "Both, quite honestly. Danny has really shown up here the last 3-4 weeks for us. His seriousness and dedication to it, I think, has shown up. And that allowed us to slide Alameda over to get the one-on-one matchups. It allowed us to keep Everrette at end more, and it allows us to rotate Hudson and Shirley to keep those guys fresh, because they aren't the biggest guys. It can take its toll when a big tackle is blocking you all night. So I thought it worked well together all the way around."


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