Sarkisian talks about Day Seven of Spring

SEATTLE - Steve Sarkisian met with the media Saturday after a 150-minute practice that included a spirited scrimmage session at the end of the day's work. He talked about his thoughts on the mechanics of the scrimmage, who performed, as well as those players that are still nicked up with various injuries.

Overall impressions of the scrimmage - "I thought it was an effective scrimmage from the standpoint that these scrimmages, when they start, the things that can kill them are fumbled snaps, fumbled exchanges, things of that nature. We had one there late in the scrimmage, but I thought from that standpoint, there weren't a bunch of false starts, weren't a bunch of guys lined up wrong, we got exchanges --- it made the flow of it go well. Now how well the execution was on both sides of the ball, that remains to be seen and we have to see that. I thought we tackled pretty well when we had those opportunities and it was live, I thought it was spirited and the kids competed at a very high level, but still with a great deal of respect for one another. And I'm sure there is a great deal for us to learn from and to gain from. I thought for some young guys like a Derrick Brown, the more the scrimmage got going he got better to the speed and the tempo of it all. And then the guys that generally make plays made some plays today --- Austin (Seferian-Jenkins) had a couple big plays, Kasen (Williams) had a big play, I thought Bishop (Sankey) again showed up today. Defensively I thought Josh Shirley had a really nice day today, I thought John Timu had a really nice day, and Sean Parker made some plays in the open field, which was good.''

On what he is seeing from Derrick Brown - "Well, for Derrick this is his first spring ball, so, a kid comes in as a freshman and he is kind of the third-string guy and you are trying to develop him fundamentally. And now it's, okay the fundamentals we're still working on but now we are into the nuts and bolts of understanding the offense and the scheme. There are some really good moments and some moments where he's just not playing as fast as he is going to need to play to really be successful. But the goal is for that to improve and I think it will. You look back at Keith (Price's) first spring and I don't know, he obviously wasn't the player he is today. So that's part of the development, and his commitment to continue that development I think is there, and that's the challenge.''

On if it's Brown's footwork that is the issue and how to get that right - "It's the ability to take what you are doing in individual drills and then carry that over to 7-on-7 and into team settings and carry that over to scrimmage, and ultimately carry it over to a game and not lose those fundamentals because know I have to think  about a read or receivers or now there are linemen and they might be blitzing me and am I protected, and so that kicks in and you lose your fundamentals. So the challenge is where the fundamentals become second nature and he doesn't have to think about them and he can play fast and remain focused on the things he needs to be focused on and that is the defense and protections and offensive sets and those things.''

On being happy with the mechanics of the spring - "Yeah, the one pick by Sean Parker was a heck of a play there, undercutting the corner route. I'm sure Keith would love to have that back --- it was a nice play (by Parker). But these scrimmages can go astray when you start fumbling exchanges from the quarterback center or shotgun snaps or exchanges with the back and the running back and I thought that stuff was pretty clean. We had one there late in the scrimmage, but that's the stuff to me --- and lining up and lining up wrong where there are just a bunch of dumb penalties --- I thought we were okay there and so now it's where were we good and where were we not good and what to we have to build upon and that's going to come from studying the film and getting that point across to our players.''

On Drew Schaefer's injury - "We know what it is and it's going to be a week or so. It's a knee sprain, but again it's not season threatening by any means.''

On the backup offensive linemen - "This is invaluable reps they are getting, for these kids it is awesome, and they are going against good defensive linemen in (Danny) Shelton, and (Josh) Shirley and (Jarett) Finau and now Talia (Crichton) is rolling again now. So the reps were good. Are we perfect? No. We're not there yet. But we'll take these reps and would I love to have (Colin) Tanigawa and (Drew) Schaefer and Erik Kohler 100 percent? Yeah. There are things there that could be better but we will really benefit from this time with the young linemen getting these reps, it's going to help us in the fall.''

On the defense winning more team battles right now - "Yeah, it's been pretty cool. And it's been pretty spirited. And by no means do I think it was manufactured. The defense is winning these plays. We had the goal line setting today where it was a 10-play sequence and it ended at the end of 10 plays five to five. We went one more play with the ones to see who could win the drill, and the defense won the play. So that stuff…I think it's exciting for our defensive players that they are winning some of those head-to-head competitions with the offense. I think that builds spirit and builds morale and builds want-to."

On if that gets him going, considering he's an offensive coach - "No, it fires me up! Our kids are competing and playing hard, and at those moments of truth - as we like to call them - they are executing and making plays."

On seeing a couple things they are doing better from last year - "I think it's a little too early to say that, to make that comparison. We're still in the growing stages. We just really finalized our spring install - there's going to be a couple of wrinkles as we move forward - but the overall body of work at the end of spring will be better to assess that. But I am really excited about our ability to…we're much more sticky in coverage. I can say that. That's definitely very evident to me in the back end. We're on guys. We're covering guys. We're matching routes really well against good receivers. They are contesting balls, which is making it tough on our guys."

On if that's been a philosophical change, or… - "I think it's a coaching style and brand. That's Justin's specialty is the back end and really understanding that, and he does a great job of coaching it and teaching it."

On how far along the defense is with the new installation - "I think we're pretty far along, but we still have a ways to go - and I think Justin would be the first one to tell you that. We've got quite a bit installed, but we're not perfect. We've got a lot of work to do to get right. There's moments where we'll be pretty good, and there's moments where we're not so good. That's part of the progression of installing a new defense."

On the hardest part of learning a new defense - "I think the hardest part is the language, the terminology. There's some carryover scheme-wise from one to the other, but sometimes there's the same term being used for something totally different. That's one of the challenges - to where they hear it and they can just go play it and they don't have to think about the verbiage. That's one of the challenges."

On whether the defense winning battles is encouraging - "I like seeing our guys compete. I think that's the biggest that's exciting to me – that our guys, they're bringing it, they're coming to work when we're taking the field and they're battling in every phase – and I think one thing I was just touching on with the team about that I've appreciated this spring is we've really accepted the notion of the ‘next play' mentality. Regardless of what happened the play before, our ability to move on to the next snap, whether that pass-play was good or bad or you weren't a part of it, their ability to go to the next snap and focus on the next snap has been really good on both sides of the ball. I think that's been a real credit to our guys on the defensive side as well that if they have given up a big play, if they have given up a touchdown, if they did get beat or miss a tackle, their ability to come back to the next snap to me is something that has been evident."

On Thomas Vincent having a good scrimmage - "Yeah, it's awesome and he'll get more (chances) as we go through spring. Obviously we have a pretty good idea of who Keith Price is and what he's about so as we move through spring we'll see a little bit more of Derrick Brown working with the ones and getting Thomas Vincent in there with the twos getting him some experience."

On Scott Lawyer and Dezden Petty's health - "Lawyer had a kind of a hip strain so we'll see because the sooner we get him back the better, I think he's got a bright future. Dezden has had a tight back the past couple of days and it's a little bit unfortunate because this would have been a good day for him to get carries, but we've got to get him healthy."

On the energy of the first "scrimmage - "It was awesome. Obviously it was the coaches clinic and cramming everybody here on one sidelines, but I thought our kids were energized, they were into it, it was fun having coaches, families, wives and kids running around, so the energy was what I had hoped for."

On the success of the coach's clinic - "Everyone loved it. They loved the intimacy of it, we had some real quality speakers come from Beau Baldwin at Eastern (Washington) to coach (Butch) Goncharoff at Bellevue and coach (Bob) Ladouceur at De La Salle to coach (Steve) Belles from Hamilton, all three very highly respected programs, so they got that stuff and then to be able to come to our practice and see our guys working was good as well."

On some guys standing out - "I'm still staying up front I think (James) Atoe, (Micah) Hatchie, (Mike) Criste, Dexter Charles, they're all young players and they're getting a lot of reps and they're going against good guys and they've done a nice job. Before getting injured I would have said Greg Ducre, I think he's played really well before getting the concussion there. I'm not sure after that. It's hard to nail every guy right now. Michael Hartvigson is playing really well, a great catch again today, so a lot of guys at different positions are getting better."

On Andrew Hudson - "Hud's a very active guy. He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he's very, very strong and he's extremely active. He's got a motor reminiscent of Daniel Te'o Nesheim where they just don't stop and they make a lot of plays because of their relentless attitude and nature in which they play."

On Hudson's role this year - "He's a little bit more inside. That role could change some when we get Semisi (Tokolahi) back, when we get Hauoli (Jamora) it could be back on the edge a little more, but his motor in there and he's so active is what makes it difficult for our guys offensively. It's been effective and he made a lot of plays today."

On Adam Long's return to the team from his injury - "It's in the early stages. Obviously it's a long road back when you have that injury. You have an ACL, it's a long road back, it's at a very competitive position group, the corner spot is competitive with (Desmond Trufant) and Marcus (Peters) and Greg (Ducre) and the addition of Tre Watson, so there's a lot of able bodies there, Tony Gobern, so he's working his way back. Obviously there's a comfort level that has to come too and not worrying about it and letting go and go play."

On Long being in the mix for playing time - "Oh yeah, I think so, but again that's going to be up to him to make that happen. I don't think the other guys are just going to move out of the way and let that happen so he's going to have to battle and compete to make it work."



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