Sarkisian Talks About Scrimmage

The Huskies held their first open practice of the spring on Saturday and were greeted with 65-degree temps and sunny skies. Afterwards, head coach Steve Sarkisian spoke about what liked and what needs to be fixed in the final four practices as Washington's players prepare for the annual Purple and Gold game next Saturday...

On the turnout for practice: "It's two years in a row we've kinda hit a home run with this thing. The weather was awesome, I thought the fans coming out, it was a great atmosphere for them to get down here, the Space Needle. I think it's a good environment for our guys too, it's a good changeup and I thought all-in-all they played hard."

On the intensity level: "They were excited. It's a little bit different format than we would normally use for a practice, but I thought all-in-all that their intensity was there. A little bit of sloppiness that I think we can clean up but the intensity was there."

On the defense "winning practice": "I thought the defense did a nice job. I thought the offense, unfortunately but fortunately, the defense made their plays, but the offense we had a lot of self-inflicted wounds – I think six penalties, the fumble, the dropped touchdown pass – some opportunities where the offense could have gotten their momentum going. But then they had a couple nice drives, the one long drive in the two-minute drill, then obviously the one starting on their own two yard line to go 98 yards was a nice drive for them. The lesson for the offense is that you can't shoot yourself in the foot with penalties for illegal formations, holdings or different things that can knock you into tough third and long situations and I thought that happened to us too much today, whether it was penalties or sacks, so stuff to work on for sure."

On playmakers emerging on offense: "I thought Kasen (Williams) did a really nice job today. Obviously the deep ball down the far sideline there, made some people miss when he got the ball in his hands, I thought Bishop Sankey showed the flashes of being a big-play guy for us and Jesse (Callier) again with a couple of nice things getting in the backfield. I would have expected, coming into today, we probably would have seem more of 88 (Austin Seferian-Jenkins), it didn't happen. It probably wasn't his best day, we'll see better days from Austin, I'm not that concerned about that. We saw some things out of Michael Hartvigson with some third-down conversions. We held James Johnson out today, which I think he could be one of those guys and then it's that third wideout spot that we're continually working for to try to find and really solidify our core playmakers on offense and then ‘where do the rest of the guys fit in?'"

On Dezden Petty being the big back they are looking for: "That was what we were hoping to see. He's shown it in spurts so we tried to give him a couple series today to give him extended carries in a row and see how he responded. He shows a real knack for playing with good pad-level and falling forward and bouncing off tacklers. I think that one thing, continually working with Dezden, is the ball-security aspect of keeping the ball high and tight, but he's kinda growing into that role and we challenged him the last week or so of getting back into that role. He had back spasms here and missed a couple of days and to get him back out and for him to play with the physicality that he does I think gives us some attitude on offense that is much needed."

On the play of the secondary: "I think one, we're talented. It's been a position that I think we've recruited well for the past few years, whether it's the senior leadership of Desmond Trufant to a guy who has played a lot of football in Sean Parker and now with (Nate) Fellner being down in the box and Justin Glenn's experience and you throw in the young guys who are starting to grow up – a Marcus Peters, a Greg Ducre, a Tre Watson – so there's a lot of depth at that position. Two, I think with Justin, obviously that being his specialty, really helps him from a scheme standpoint. I think schematically we really do a great job of matching routes and understanding what's coming and how to ‘fit it'. And then the third aspect of fundamentally being right and technically being right and coach (Keith) Heyward does a tremendous job so I would really say that's one of the real strengths of our team is what we do back there."

On James Johnson being out: "He got his bell rung yesterday. It's just precautionary."

On moving guys around: "Wen you do something like that, is the first thing you look for is can we hold up, moreso than how fast we look. I think that has shown up. We're holding up really well. Especially with Fellner moving down here now, he's such a physical kid, you think at 220 pounds, maybe he's going to get overpowered by a tight end at 250 pounds or something, but he just anchors in there, he plays tough, he plays physical and then when we do get spread out, we spread things out, we're going to more nickel and dime stuff, you definitely see the speed. You see guys closing on routes, the windows get tighter, the throwing lanes are tougher so, it's so far so good from the advantages of making those changes."

On Fellner needing to be sold on the move: "He was fired up about it. He was excited. I think Nate, as you grow and mature in this thing, as you go from starting as a true freshman to being a senior, he wants to win a championship and he wants to do whatever it takes to put the best 11 guys on the field for us to be successful and he understands our secondary is deep and talented and he understands what his role can be. We're reaping the benefits of him playing the run, rushing the passer when he's coming off the edge as well as playing pass-defense."

On the switch of Fellner being like the move of Victor Aiyewa: "Similar type players. Nate much more experience than Victor had just playing football. Nate's played a lot of football for us and been in tough games, tight games and a healthy Justin Glenn makes this happen too. It's great to have Justin and I think Justin is having a heck of a spring ball so far."

On surprise guys: "I think one of the biggest guys would be Tre Watson. I think he's had a tremendous spring practice. His playmaking ability and doing the things he's doing. That's probably the biggest surprise on defense. Offensively, it goes in spurts with different guys, but I'd go with a James Atoe. From how far he's come to where he is now, pleasantly surprised with what he's done. Then Dezden Petty, young kid, back spasms, but I think a year ago probably still wouldn't be back, but he's starting to grow up and mature and now for him to come out today and run with the physicality that he did was pretty cool."

On Derrick Brown's day: "I thought he was good. I think he'd love to have the touchdown pass back (that he missed) when he's got Hartvigson down the middle of the field. It's just a matter of comfort. It's a matter of being out on the field, by yourself in that huddle, when you don't get reminders from the coaches and so we'll try to do more of that here throughout the next week of just making him become that leader on the field."

On the "sacks" and it being because the defense is dialing up different things: "I think there's a little bit of everything. Sometimes, especially when 17 (Keith Price) is back there I'm going to have a bit of a quick whistle, so you never know what he gets out of which we've seen that before and part of it's scheme, part of it is one-on-one wins and part of it's fatigue as a drive goes on and guys aren't used to playing a 10 or 12-play drive and they lose their fundamentals or technique. I think a lot goes into that. Sometimes there's lack of communication at times and then they're doing good stuff. Now we have to figure out what happened and how do we fix it – is it playcalling, is it scheme, is it fundamentals, is it technique, is it fatigue – whatever that may be we have to figure it out and offensively we have to fix it."

On the RB competition: "I think Bishop has had a very consistent spring football so far, two-thirds of the way through. I think Jesse obviously has been hampered by the ankle injury, but to his credit, again a younger Jesse Callier might be sitting on the sidelines with just his jersey on, but the veteran Jesse now is a junior, is battling through it and competing, made some really nice plays for us today and I know that he's mature. Those two guys have been performing well."

On things to work on: "I'd like to clean up a little bit of the sloppiness. We were a little sloppy today. 10 penalties is too much for us in my opinion and then a little bit of the self-inflicted wounds offensively are some areas I know we would like to clean up and then defensively again a couple self-inflicted wounds. I think four times today we were in the neutral zone whether it would be defensive linemen or some of it pressures coming off the edge, so just understanding how to rush and how to blitz. We're going to be an aggressive team and teach our guys the timing of that coming off the edges."

On the spring game: "I think it will be exciting. For our guys it's exciting because they get to put on the uniforms and all that kind of stuff and to go to Century Link Field. It'll be an exciting atmosphere there. It should make for a lot of big plays, exciting plays, that kind of big-hit mentality, but then taking the big shots and taking the shots. There should be some pretty good Husky Legends around to get autographs from and so it's a chance to see where we're playing next year, but also a chance to see the 2012 Huskies, at least three-fourths of which before our freshmen get here and to get around some of the Husky Legends and just to be part of Husky football. It's a great time to be part of it."



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