Sarkisian on First Day of Spring Football

SEATTLE - Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian spoke with the press Monday morning after a spirited first practice that lasted just over two hours and had a little of everything in it for a non-contact workout. With new coaches, new environment, some new players and a new start time, Sark had plenty to talk about.

First impressions - "Somebody likes me, because the sun came out for the first time in three months. I thought overall first impression, first practice - and not just comparing it to a first practice - I thought the energy was really good, the guys practiced efficiently, they were running the football. The effort was good, the enthusiasm was good…obviously on both sides of the ball there's always things to work on, there's always things to take from practice - and this practice was no different. But for the first day there were some really good things. I thought the quarterbacks did some good things, but at the end you look up and the defense ends up with three interceptions. So that's a good thing as well.

"But I thought from an efficiency standpoint, with five new coaches and guys learning a new system defensively - I thought it was good. You're trying to not be too, too physical because we don't have pads on, but you're working on the physicality of the game and the running game and pass protection and all of that…all in all a good first day, and some new guys showed some things. Marvin Hall did some nice stuff for us early on…it was good to see our three frontline corners did some nice stuff with Desmond, Ducre and Peters. And Sean Parker looked comfortable, John Timu…and I thought the two backs did some nice stuff today with Sankey and Callier. Tay Sims, first day at running back still trying to find his way, but looked really good and we had him back there doing some return stuff, so a lot of good things for a first day."

On gelling with the new coaches - "I kind of get along with these guys already; my comfort level is good with them. Obviously understanding their coaching style might take a minute, but I think I already have a pretty good idea."

Continuity on the coaching staff is gone. How will you handle that? - "I think every job and opportunity and all that is different. We were fortunate to have some real staff continuity there those first three years. And obviously there are a lot of changes on the field, there are a lot of new faces on the field. There are a lot of young players who were on scout team and service teams all year last year who are now getting opportunities, so seeing them at times seems new to me, as well. I think that's what keeps it fresh for me. That's what keeps you motivated. I think that's what had me so excited for today. It went great. I've seen a lot worse first days, that's for sure."

Is that what makes spring ball more important? - "Sure. Sure. The key is to maximize these 15 opportunities we have. One's gone. We've got 14 left to go. Every time we come out here we've got to come out here with a purpose and an attitude about who we are. I thought we did that today. Now the challenge is to come back Wednesday and do it again."

What was all that hoopin' and hollerin' going on at the end of practice? - "We were competing. The defense had a three-play lead there, they were up 10-7. Then the offense tied it up on the last play, so we had to go to overtime and the defense won. They were pretty excited. And it's great for our defense, quite honestly. It's about not only learning the defense but building some morale up on that side of the ball with some of those guys. So it was great to see."

Anything change with mechanics of practice? - "Yeah, I see quite a bit more. I am able to stay centralized and see more things. Obviously from an organizational standpoint we really have to be on point with where drills are taking place because of the little bit of limited space. I thought today was a really well-organized practice. It was efficient. Guys knew where they were going, what they needed to get done. But for me I was able to watch multiple drills at each time, which was great."

How about Austin (Seferian-Jenkins) being back? - "He just kind of didn't miss a beat. He stepped right in, made his plays, worked extremely hard. I thought the tight-end position was another one that showed up today, caught the ball well, did some nice things. All three of those kids with Austin, Harvy and Evan Hudson. But Austin's transition for a guy that's been hoopin' this whole time, to come out here and feel comfortable is pretty encouraging."

  How did Keith Price look? - "I thought he looked great. Typical Keith in the sense he was upbeat and very spirited. Has a great deal of fun at practice. I think he is one of the keys to the way we practice, quite honestly. I think part of it for Keith was, he did some really, really good stuff, and maybe forced some balls that weren't there. But that's part of figuring out what are your limits now, how far can you take this thing? I thought the rapport between him and Coach Kiesau was good. I thought he did some really good stuff, and he will learn from the couple mistakes that were made."

On if he noticed a physical difference with Price out there - "I thought he looked explosive. I thought he looked strong. Again a first day, fresh legs and all that. The key for Keith isn't about today or Wednesday for that matter. In my mind, I'm thinking October and November. How do we keep building him up to stay strong for an extended period of time. That''s going to be our continued focus with him in the weight room, the training room and as we practice."

On Kasen Williams gaining weight - "We want him to be strong and physical. The difference for Kasen is that when he was in high school, he was football, basketball and track so he was constantly doing things. Now with just football and offseason conditioning, he's been able to build his body up but still stay explosive. I thought I saw that today with him. It will be interesting to see how can carry that weight as we move forward. I thought he looked good today."

On the upcoming schedule - "We will be in helmets on Wednesday, half pads on Friday and full pads on Monday."

On Desmond Trufant and Erik Kohler working with the twos - "Both are kind of limited and they are coming off a couple different nagging things and so we're just mixing. There's nothing to lead into yet. There's no depth chart. We are just playing ball."

On if this is what he expected Kohler would be doing - "We just have to build his stamina back. He just hasn't been in our offseason conditioning program as much as the other guys have. So we have to build him back up."

On having Keith Heyward coach the safeties and Donte Williams the corners - "We want to make sure we get enough individual work at each spot. Obviously Justin's specialty is defensive backs and so he's able to oversee all of that. We want to make sure guys are getting enough reps and not standing around and watching."

On the energy of the guys at practice - "It was great. I thought the guys showed up. It's exactly what I thought. We've been getting them up at 5:30, 6 in the morning all offseason. I didn't have any reason to think they wouldn't come out with energy. This is late for them."

On Derrick Brown - "It's the most extensive reps he's gotten since he's been here and there were some really, really good plays and some not so good plays but that's part of the growing process. The key for Derrick is to take the stuff that weren't his best plays today and learn from those and eliminate those and then build upon the plays that were good ones and I think he will do that. He's committed to it:

On Ryan McDaniel - "It's a non-issue right now. He's just not able to perform. We've just got to get him healthy before he can get to that point.''

On Taz Stevenson - "Good. Again, I think there were some moments with Taz where he looked really explosive and athletic like we thought he would and then a couple of times where he maybe felt a little out of place because it was new to him and that's going to happen. Again, it's the similar experience to Derrick where it's new to him and there are some really flashy plays in there and then some plays he would like to have back and again the key is to eliminate those plays you'd love to have back and learn from those and then build upon the really good plays.''

On a lot of 3-4 today - "It's going to look that way and feel that way to the naked eye just kind of standing and observing. It's what we are doing front-wise that is going to be a little more multiple but it's going to appear 3-4ish all the time just because we are standing up the two edge guys.''

On not being in the stadium - "I think it's a little bit inspiring quite honestly. You look behind me and there are cranes and welding and all sorts of stuff and dirt flying and I think it's been inspiring the fact of how committed this university is and this community is to this football program that they are willing to build us a brand new stadium that we've got to do our part and continue to build and grow, so it's been inspiring.''

On the new tailbacks - "It's been good. We know Jesse (Callier) and Bishop (Sankey) because they have played for us so we know what they bring and I think we've got a healthy competition going battling and competing, each of them want a bunch of carries. I thought they both came with a very serious attitude today yet had fun but a workmanlike attitude and came to perform today.''

On new receivers - "Again, I thought Marvin Hall did some nice stuff. It was good to see DiAndre Campbell, Jamaal Jones and (Josh) Perkins making some plays with us and not necessarily with the service team, so that was encouraging.''




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