Sark Talks about Day Two of Spring

SEATTLE - Steve Sarkisian addressed the media Wednesday under chilly Northwest skies, and spoke about Washington's second practice of Spring Football. It was Turnover Wednesday, and it was also a day to focus on the defensive side of the ball.

What exactly is Turnover Wednesday? - "Well there's just more of an emphasis. Every practice is themed, but a lot of the emphasis on our individual drills, a lot of the drills we do offensively, defensively and when we are in our team periods there is an emphasis on the football. So there is a difference that way. It's a mindset. Obviously, offensively we weren't very good toady at taking care of the football. We had the interceptions, but even more importantly the opportunities to take care of the ball when we were running with it weren't very good. The defense wasn't able to capitalize on that. But in time, they will be able to if we don't fix it offensively. So, a great emphasis for stuff that we need to work on moving forward."

On the importance of turnovers - "It's huge. It's huge. It's the No. 1 stat in football. Our guys did a study here and since 2009, when we've won the turnover battle we are 13-3. If you look at it that way and you really understand the value of the ball in: 1. taking care of it and 2. creating turnovers and the effect it can have on you winning and losing, it has to be a huge emphasis for us."

On Derrick Brown having issues holding onto the ball on Turnover Wednesday - "There were two snaps when he was under center and one in the gun, quite honestly I was surprised we didn't have more of that on Monday, it just being new and rotating some centers. I think there is a little bit of anxiousness there and wanting to do really well and trying to play a little faster than you need to. There's going to be better days and there are going to be days when it's not as good. The point being, is understanding why those things are happening – I think he's just a little excited. And two, how are we going to fix it come Friday, how can we make it better. Obviously, his understanding what we are trying to get down from drill to drill so he can play confident and calm and make his plays when they come."

On playing more man coverage in the secondary - "I think so, and I think that plays to our strengths --- we are pretty talented at that position. It allows for us, even when we are calling some zone coverages to have some man principles on the outside with our corners and I think we are seeing that and reaping the benefits of it now two practices in.''

On what he has seen of the new coaches - "I like the way they teach. For two practices in we've got quite a bit of defense in. It's not like we are running one or two calls --- we've got quite a bit of defense in. And for our guys to be playing at a high level and not having a major amount of busts, we have a few here or there and that's going to happen, but we are playing at a high level and our guys are playing fast, so that means our guys are teaching really well so that our kids can perform when they get an opportunity to perform. I like the energy that they are bringing but I really like their ability to teach --- that's been the biggest thing that has stuck out to me.''

On getting the players to play fast without thinking - "Well that's the biggest challenge, where we are not thinking and we are playing slower than we are. We want to appear even faster than we are, and to do that you have to know what you are doing and I think our guys have been able to do that so far. We are seeing that, especially in the back end, to have the amount of interceptions we have had in two practices is obviously very encouraging from a defensive standpoint --- it's not the best thing we want to see offensively but in spring football there has to be some give and take so I am very encouraged that we are getting those turnovers, getting those interceptions and those kids are playing fast and hopefully we can continue to build on that as we move into Friday.''

On the challenge of facing standup ends - "It creates some hesitation, there communication that is critical and paramount for us on the offensive side of the ball ID'ing who is who to make sure we are on the same page with that. Fortunately for us to be dealing with this now in April and the second day of spring football and all the way through spring football, this should benefit us offensively come fall when we play teams that have 3-4 principles and we should feel more comfortable when we get those teams and inevitably kind of reap the benefits of this now. It can be challenging on some of our young players and we are seeing that now --- we have to continue to teach and to coach. But ultimately this should make us better come the fall when we face those teams that are 3-4 principle teams.''

What are the risks of keeping the ends up instead of down in a stance? - "Well, I mean, it depends on how you are built and how you recruit. You may not be as big as maybe you would like and you recruit some bigger interior guys and things. I don't think there is so much of a down side. I think it's just a philosophical approach of who you want to be and who you are. There have been great defenses for years that have been 3-4 principled defenses, and there have been great defenses for years that have been 4-3 principled defenses. We've chosen to be more of a 3-4 feel to what we are doing. I don't think there is necessarily there's a bunch of down sides to it. It's just philosophically, who are you and we will continue to play to that, coach to that and recruit to that."

On thinking the 34 is going to be the way to combat offenses in the Pac-12 - "I think so. In general what we are seeing, you look at the coaches that have been hired, I think there is an emphasis on throwing the ball. I think there's an emphasis on spread-out teams, on shotgun-running teams. If you want to defend those guys you have to defend your edges and you can't let the ball get on the perimeter. I think it can create some confusion in pass protection, creating some more rush lanes for our guys. But ultimately we have to make sure we can hold up against the two-back, power-running teams, as well. There's a lot of give and take. And I think for our defense going against our offense, that's a little bit of the beauty of facing us, because they get both. They can get a lot of stuff on film. There is a lot of stuff to teach."

On players that jumped out - "This is always the hardest question because I have to review about 115 plays in my mind real quick…I thought Tru had a real nice day at corner, he was a little more active than he was the first day. I thought Andrew Hudson showed up and did some things on the defensive line. I thought Jamaal Jones had a better day offensively. I thought Antavius Sims looked a little more comfortable at running back…Sean Parker had a pretty good day. Will Shamburger, great pick there…return for six. Lot of guys making plays, but that question is a little easier to answer after I got a chance to look at the film. But considering the conditions - it was little more chilly this morning - I thought again our guys…the energy was really good. That, to me - I'm looking at it from a whole standpoint - the energy was good, it was competitive, spirited…a lot of stuff to learn from, no doubt about that in all three phases. But guys are getting better, which is important."

On Drew Schultz deep snapping - "Drew has committed himself to wanting to do that. He started that last year and it's showing up to be holding true for us. We'll have a few guys come in the fall that will challenge for that, but in the spring it'll be Drew."

On Cody Bruns - "He's got a sore ankle, rolled his ankle here so we're trying to get him healthy. And John Timu kind of tweaked his hamstring, so that's why he was out today."

On James Johnson - "I think James is great. James provides a great deal of leadership at the wide receiver position. He's kind of our veteran guy there. He's matured in his time from Day One to where he is today. There's a calming feel to him for the younger players, and he sets a great example…making plays and is playing all over the field, so I'm excited about what he's done and the prospects for him as we head to the fall."

On Price being big enough to handle the hits right now - "I think he's plenty big enough. What's funny is that the first injury to his knee, nobody touched him. He fell down and banged his own knee into the ground. It wasn't about the pounding that it takes. He's never had any shoulder injuries or ribs or anything where you need to be a big guy - it's just about strengthening around the knee - which I think we've done a good job of - so that the overall wear and tear of landing on that stuff…he can handle the weight as he moves on. I think he's plenty big enough. There have been a lot of guys smaller than him played the position and gone on to do great things. He'll continue to grow and mature, but I think he's plenty big enough."

On anything structural with his knee after the season - "No…he just had to get healthy. I think we saw it in the bowl game, honestly, where he was close to 100 percent. I think we're seeing it now; we saw a couple runs where he got out and ran and looked explosive and looked good. So it's just a matter of keeping that place, keeping that level of health where he's at."

On Kasen not doing track this spring - "No. He's just going to focus on football. I think he realizes the opportunity that's ahead of him and where he can fit in at the wide receiver position, and I think he wants to seize the opportunity."

On if the intensity bump up today due to the weather - "It wasn't about the weather. We've been preaching to our guys that it's not about where we're playing or what we're playing in or who we're playing against - it's our ability to bring the energy needed and the focus needed and the passion needed to compete on a daily basis. So rain, sleet, snow, sun - whatever it is, we should bring it every day. I don't expect that to change, whether we're inside or outside or what the conditions are - we should bring it every day."

On being pleased that the energy has come around so quickly this spring - "I think the energy has been awesome. It's been great. And again, this is what I thought would happen, I'm not surprised. I thought getting our guys up - this is what they are used to. This is normal for them."







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