Coach Speak: Sark on Day Eight

SEATTLE - Steve Sarkisian addressed the media after Monday morning's workout - Day Eight of Spring Football at Washington - and he talked about some of the standouts, including Bishop Sankey, Cody Bruns, Michael Criste, James Johnson - as well as updates on some Huskies that have been hit with the injury bug of late.

On what he's seen in Michael Criste - "I see a guy that's got a strong lower base. He's able to anchor. He's got a great challenge going up against Danny Shelton; Danny is a very powerful young man, strong. And so Mike shows the power in his hips and his lower half to anchor in against a Danny Shelton. He's got some natural athleticism that's there. Where he gets in trouble is the ability making all the calls, making the snap, and then blocking a nose tackle that's on your head - and doing all that fluidly. And so that's been the hardest part for him; getting all five linemen, plus the tight ends, on the same page, then the snap, then the block. Physically, there's no doubt about it. Mentally, there's no doubt about it. It's just bringing it all together consistently for him."

On it being more than just snapping the ball - "There's a lot that goes into it, and not just in our offense but every offense. A center has to be a bright guy, which Michael is, and you have to make a lot of calls. And then generally you're going up against a really tough guy right on your nose that you've got to be able to snap and then get your hand back up on and be physical with."

On if he's seeing the team hit a wall during this part of spring - "No. We've got a hungry group. It was really spirited again today. I was encouraged by some of the guys that have been nicked up that got back out today and fought through some things, which was encouraging that way. And at the end of it all, I thought they competed really well. So I don't see the wall at all."

On what he saw on the film from Saturday's scrimmage - "The guys we thought did some things Saturday were the same guys that actually did do stuff: I thought Danny and Josh had a really nice scrimmages on the d-line; I thought Jarett Finau was better Saturday; I thought John Timu at the linebacker position really showed up; Matt Lyons did a couple nice things when you go back and look at the film; Sean Parker a very good scrimmage; Marcus Peters a good scrimmage, and Tre Watson made some tackles, which was good in the open field.

"Offensively, I think the biggest thing for our guys to understand is that we can have 10 guys do everything right and look really good doing it, and when one guy is off, when one guy is wrong - you get beat and you lose that snap, and all the other 10 guys' work goes to waste. The challenge is to understand that and to hold one another accountable. Lack of execution and lack of effort isn't okay. That's something I know they are working on and addressing, and I think they'll get better for it as the leadership continues to grow."

On if he knew early on that Cody Bruns might have difficulty playing last season after the death of his father - "I don't want to say I anticipated that, but I was prepared for it. I can only imagine losing your father right before the season begins and what that meant to him and his mother being home and all that, so I was prepared for it, I analyzed it and in talking to Cody as we went through the discussions of it, he was pretty accepting of it. If he would have said, 'heck no coach, I want to play' sure I would have let him play and all that. But when a kid says 'coach that might be a pretty good idea, let me think about it' and comes in the next day and agrees with you, then right then that tells me it's probably pretty difficult on him right now, so it was a pretty easy decision.''

On Bruns being back now with the younger receivers - "I think he's good. Cody is such a mature kid for his age being a fifth-year senior, he's been through so many battles, whether it's on the practice field or game day. He's had his ups, he's had his downs. From a mental toughness standpoint he's a great example for a lot of our younger players to persevere. He's got an ankle that's bothering him right now in spring ball and he's continuing to fight through it and battle and compete, so from that aspect of it it's great having him out here because we do have so many young wideouts that are trying to figure the difference between pain and injury or dealing with the adversity of a dropped pass or lining up wrong. Cody can be a great mentor for them that way.''

On James Johnson - "I think James has been awesome. He's another guy, like Cody, who had some adversity in his career that he has had to persevere through and he has been awesome at it, almost a model of how to deal with it. I think at times when James gets in trouble now is he tries a little too hard, and I know that sounds odd saying that but he can get himself almost too jacked up, too worked up, because he's such an unbelievable competitor, so that's our challenge to get him to where he is feeling confident and great and believing in himself but yet still  being able to kind of stay on a mode and a level that's just not Code Red, just a notch below that. But he's an unbelievable kid, a great leader, works his tail off every day, so I couldn't ask for anymore.''

On what adversity has he had to overcome? - "Just from what he dealt with, he had so much early success, really from his first practice here the guy was making plays and making catches. First game, first touchdown against LSU, and then it wasn't so easy and it got hard and injuries kick in and next thing you know you are down on the depth chart and guys are making plays in front of you and it's hard to find your way back up. I think we've all seen through years and years of doing this guys at that point almost quit and hang them up and to James' credit he just kept battling and kept  working at it, whether it was in the weight room or the film room with coach (Jimmie) Dougherty or on the football field working on the details, the little things. He got his confidence back to where he knew he was going to play, it was just a matter of time, and then it showed up. Today he's still out there catching balls when 99 percent of our team is in the locker room.''

On Bishop Sankey - "The plan going in was that he was going to get plenty of reps with the ones. And he's just playing really well, to his credit. He's running the ball well. He's catching the ball out of the backfield extremely well. From a pass protection standpoint, he's doing an excellent job. I'm very, very pleased with what Bishop is bringing to us. He's brings a big play element to our offense. He's able to create some explosive plays, but yet he's still doing the little things that it takes at that position. I'm proud of him so far."

On his vision - "Yes he does. We saw the vision. I think of the things that coach Thomas working on Bishop with is his patience. He's a quick guy and he wants to go make the run and make the play and working on his patience and allowing the blocking take place before making that cut is where we've seen the biggest strides in him running the ball. He's always had the vision. But sometimes he couldn't utilize the vision because blocks hadn't occurred yet."

On transitions when running the ball - "There's a lot of transitions about when you talk about just sheer running the ball between the tackles. That's one of the keys to it. He's really worked at it. It hasn't been easy. I think his instincts are to want to hit it. And that's not a bad thing for when it is there and you do need to hit it. You just need to allow that blocking to take place and he is doing a much better job of that."

On Talia's injury - "Yeah, his knee. He tweaked it. Nothing serious."

On Ryan McDaniel now wearing a splint on his knee - "We had to go in there and clean some things up. It's nothing serious."

On Scott Lawyer's injury - "He's got a groin strain."

On Danny Shelton's outburst during practice - "It's football. It's just football."



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