Coach Speak: Keith Heyward and Peter Sirmon

Two of Husky head coach Steve Sarkisian's hires early last month were secondary coach Keith Heyward and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon. Both talked about their move to UW from other jobs as well as what they see from the players they will be coaching this year...

Keith Heyward

On what he wants to impress upon his players: "I'm a big guy on accountability. Be where you're supposed to be and do what you're supposed to do. We're here for two reasons and that's to get a degree and the other reason is to play some great football, so as long as they understand that and those are the two reasons they're coming to school, those are the two things I will be hard on them about."

On what he sees already on the roster: "Desmond (Trufant) was one that while I was (at Oregon State), we tried to recruit him and we kinda figured he was headed to Washington State or U-Dub, so he was a kid I knew of and watching him as a player, he's a good player, but I still there's little things he can improve on in his game and I will say this as a general statement for him and all of the other guys, what I've heard is they need to be more confident and be able to let go and play. That's what I want to do is instill confidence in them. Sometimes as a defensive back you know that any particular play you can give up a touchdown. However, I don't want guys to plays scared. I want them to with confident so they can play freely. In practice you can take chances because that's where we can learn and in games that's where we're going to have play smart and if you know when to take a chance or not to take a chance that's where we'll be fine."

On Sean Parker: "He's a great player and safety. I wanted to recruit him out of Narbonne High School and I think he's just a football kid. He's always around the ball and he makes plays. There's going to be things to improve his game.

On Greg Ducre and Markus Peters: "He's another one, getting him over that hump of playing consistently and not be worried about making a mistake and Markus Peters who is a young kid who is going to get some playing time this year. I recruited him and had him committed to Oregon State for about 48 hours. All of these guys we'll find out what their strengths are and what their weaknesses are and improve on those weaknesses so that's the first order of business."

On the secondary as a whole: "They're all good players, but I don't know a lot of what they know just yet. I want them to play smarter. First of all I want them to understand our defense and our concepts. I want them to understand offense because that's a big part of playing defense because if you can understand offensive formations, sets and things that they want to do on offense to try and beat our defense. We'll have an introduction meeting with them coming up here pretty soon, but some of them have stopped by and I've met them, so we'll get going here and I'm excited about it."

On some of the challenges: "Understanding the defense and understanding themselves. Sometimes as a defensive back you think you can go up and press a guy for 99 yards, that may not be smart, understanding how to be accountable what you're going to play and where your help is -- next to the safety or the linebacker -- and stuff like that. Making sure that the kids understand, because we as coaches can know everything about football and coaching, but if we need to understand what they know and put them in positions to win and be successful."

On just one secondary coach vs. a corners coach and a safeties coach: "I think the big thing is, in meetings and when you're going over your defense and going over your concept is that they're hearing it together, so the corners understand what the safeties are doing and the safeties are understanding what the corners are doing and how the linebackers are going to fit into that and help us and how we as a secondary will interact with the linebackers. Sometimes some messages get lost in between when you have separate rooms meeting. Now in practice, safety drill work and corner drill work is different, so that's when it's good to have two coaches or a GA and you work on these techniques with two different sets of guys, however in the meeting room, when you have a breakdown between two guys, it's good to have one voice there to show them what happened and how to correct it."

On making the decision to move to Washington: "I knew they were going to have good players here and that we would be able to get good players, but the thing was, was it a good move for me professionally? I wasn't too concerned about the players that they had here, but I was aware of them and I knew they had good talent."

On knowing the players from when he recruited them: "I think it helps a lot because you have a relationship with those guys and they knew you from the recruiting process. That definitely helps."

On his philosophy: "We want to be physical, fast and all that stuff, but I think more than anything we want to play smart. If you're playing smart, it will make it seem like you're physical or that you're playing faster if you're playing smarter. I just want to make sure our guys are being accountable."

On stressing accountability with the players: "You're parents were accountable to you. Someday when you become a husband or father, you're accountable to your wife or your kids. I am account to the players. If they need something they need to be able to count on me. Your defensive line is counting on the linebackers to fill the right ball and how the safeties have to be there for your help and I need to show them how that all fits together and when they understand that, that's when we can start doing some things."

On Shaq Thompson: "I got messages from people congratulating me saying 'I can't believe you got that player' and I think 'oh yeah, now the pressure is really on me'. I think it's going to be fun, a guy with his talent to be able to coach that up, that's something I've never, ever had before and I think it's just going to be fun to take those talents and actually be able to mold him and make him a better and smarter player."

On if his players will play off or in the press: "Playing off, you give up stuff in front and sometimes that's fine to some degree, but you want to get up and challenge guys, disrupt timing. If you've got good corners on the outside it allows you to do a lot of different things with your defense as far as pressure and giving different looks -- you can press and play a zone or play man from 'off' -- so I think that challenging receivers and challenging quarterbacks to make that tough throw and teach guys how to not give up that deep ball."

On James Sample: "I think he can play either (Corner or Safety). Whatever he wants to do he'll be able to do it, but that's up to me to make him believe that and for me to put him in the right position to be successful."


Peter Sirmon

On whether there were things Sark was looking for: "We just had to do a good job of communicating what we're trying to do with the current kids on the roster; Identify the direction that coach Wilcox wants to go with the defensive personality and the direction of who we want to recruit, who we need to evaluate and how we want to improve the current roster."

On what he sees already on the roster: "I think there's some pieces to work with. So much more goes into a player than just what you see on film. It goes to how they prepare, what their personality is in the meeting room, because sometimes there's a lot of indication in how they play from how they meet, how they practice and all those things so not knowing how they did all those things, you kinda can't rush to judgment on how they perform, but there's some pieces out there. They've got some athletic guys, but there's room for improvement though."

On his passion for recruiting: "I just really enjoy it. There's a couple of ways of looking at it -- either you have to do it because it's part of your job or you get to do it. I think I get to do it. I think it's great to go out there and evaluate players and when you evaluate players you get to essentially shape the type of people on your team, be it physically, emotionally or however they handle themselves, so to go out and try to identify people that can fit into the system and build relationships with families and coaches, I really enjoy that."

On his role during the 2012 recruiting cycle: "With the shape of the current commitments, we already had three linebackers already committed, so I went and checked in with those guys, but then I started diving into the 2013s and what areas where we're going to be now that we've kinda solidified them, but started doing some groundwork on that and get a jump ahead, but since we already had some solid linebackers in the class who we were taking, we felt good about that."

On expanding the recruiting base: "I'm sure the coaches here have done a great job and the current coaches here have done a great job, I really believe, just being from this part of the world and then living down south, the University of Washington is an extremely strong brand. I think we need to get it it's due credit and to go out there and to educate some of these areas that we're not regionally based. Washington is a great education, Seattle's easy to get to, a lot of airport access, we have great majors. The traditions here, with the new facility, with the resources and the investment, from everyone, from the donors to the whole athletic department and the university that you're willing to put in. It's not necessarily the facility itself, it's more what it represents -- its what the program is capable and willing to do."

On what he's heard about Washington from kids on the recruiting trail: "There hasn't been anything that has been consistent every time and I think that's part of our job, if that's something we choose to branch out on a little bit, we need to take it upon ourselves to say 'what are we known for?' or 'What is going to be the opening line of what we're trying to convey and what we're trying to educate those people on that didn't grow up on the west coast and aren't necessarily familiar with Pac 12 football?'"

On what Washington has to sell on the recruiting trail: "I think really, the first thing is that it's an incredible blend of academics and tradition. A great place to live and a lot of football success. I think it's in a very unique spot."

On now being back at Washington: "It is funny. I'm glad I finally made it here. It took me a long time to be a Husky. It's great to be here. I wouldn't have thought, five years ago, that I'd be sitting right here and talking to you about this."

On how he viewed Washington growing up: "Washington football, at the time, was the premier program in the country. Growing up, watching them play in the early 90s, I can't remember the Huskies other than when I saw them growing up in high school."

On the key to the recruiting process: "In the recruiting process, if you're not yourself every day, I think eventually they're going to find a chink in your armor and say 'coach on one day you're this way one day and now you're this way'. I think the biggest that I try to be is consistent. I try to stay consistent and in constant communication with them, build relationships and continue to push 'people'."


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