SarkSpeak - Spring Game

SEATTLE - While the defense had the upper hand during Washington's Saturday Spring Game, UW Head Coach Steve Sarkisian was nonetheless pleased with how the game went, as well as the fourteen practices strung out over a period of four weeks that got the team there. He spoke to the media post-game about a variety of subjects, some having to do with spring and some having to do with the NFL Draft.

On the game - "I thought our guys defensively really played well and that's on a lot of fronts. One, I thought we lined up really well. We didn't have a bunch of busts where we lined up wrong. They were aggressive. They played enthusiastic and I thought one of the big telling things defensively is that they won a lot of the one on one battles, especially down the field with the ball in the air. They closed on the ball and they were confident closing on the ball in the back end and they made plays. That was extremely encouraging."

Kind of like the whole spring with the defense? - "They had a great spring. It's a real credit to our defensive coaching staff to be able to get this done in 15 practices and have our guys come out and play the way they played today, To show the enthusiasm and confidence in their calls and go out and execute them. A really nice job by those guys, nice job on defensive side of the ball.

O-Line? - "Numbers are numbers and I think there were seven sacks today and you could probably pin four or five on the quarterbacks alone. My concern isn't big. We held Schaefer out after the first drive, we will get Tanigawa back and then we will be game planning and doing things to attack opponents and protect (Keith) a little more. I'm not nearly as concerned offensively because of the knowledge I have of the guys and where we can take this thing.

How much stock put into the score? - "I'm fired up that we are getting stops on defense. There are going to be Saturday's when we are not right offensively. There are going to be Saturdays where we do false start or do have a holding and we have to find our way. And when your defense is playing this way and you can win the field position battle and get some short fields to get your momentum back. That's encouraging. That's team football. Days like this are going to occur when your defense plays really well and your offense needs some breaks in there to find its way. Today was one of those days.

On the defense winning the one-on-one moments - "I think that's good defense in general, regardless of the scheme, if you are 3-4, 4-3. At the end of the day when the ball gets thrown and there are those one-on-one moments, good defenses win those one-on-one battles, and we showed that today that we were able to win one-on-one battles, and it wasn't just one guy ---  it was a variety of guys. (From the quarterback's side of it) it's always hard when they are like that because you have to be right, the timing has to be right, the accuracy has to be right, the route has to be precise. And we were a little bit off offensively and they were able to make some plays.''

On how much the defense changed its psyche during the spring and on how much of the battle that is - "I think that's maybe more than half the battle. Believing in calls, believing in coaches, believing in the guy that's lining up next to you, and ultimately believing in yourself that you are going to make those plays. And I think our guys are at the point where they expect to make plays, expect to be in the right position and understand the calls and ultimately make those plays and that showed today. The key for us is to take that and continue to grow with it as we head into summer and ultimately into fall camp --- how do we take the next step defensively? If I could knock the defense on something we didn't get a turnover today and we had some opportunities. We dropped a couple of interceptions and the ball was on the ground loose on a fumble, so that's the next step - not only do we stop people but how do we create turnovers to really change the momentum of the game.''

On Austin Seferian-Jenkins being quiet and if that would influence whether he would play basketball again - "Yeah, I think ultimately we will worry about next year next year. We made the decision, Austin made the decision. Do I think it had a direct effect on him today? No. But could it over the long haul, possibly. That's part of this process and being new to us. But Austin I think  was more quiet today because we didn't really try to feature Austin today, either. He had a couple opportunities and that was about it. As we move toward fall camp and playing ball games when we actually game plan and we know where we are attacking people and how we are going to attack them, I think he will have a few more opportunities than he had today.''

On Price not thinking he had enough energy today - "We pride ourselves on the energy level that we possess at the quarterback position, and we all know Keith well enough to know that he's an upbeat, energetic guy. He loves playing and he loves competing. I'm not going to totally agree with him on the statement. I've seen him more excited and energetic…last time the guy played, it was in front of 65,000 in the Alamo Bowl and the place was rocking. You come out and it's a little different feel for a guy that's played a lot of football. That's not an excuse for the rest of the guys, but I think we've learned how to feed off of Keith and he accepts it and that's what makes him a great leader. That's why we love him so much and he's the guy that he is to this team."

On the Draft news and Polk not getting drafted - "I really don't know. I've been out here the whole time. I just assumed it would happen. We'll dig and find out. Some of the reports that have come out are news to me. I've never heard that stuff. We'll try to find out what's going on and help him in any way we can to get him on a squad."

On injury issues with him - "Not to the extent that we're talking, so we'll have to find out."

On the OL mistakes being correctable - "Without a doubt. It's film, it's experience. These are valuable reps. There's that transition stage from practice when you're coaching and the guys are behind guys and the coaches are helping players…then all of a sudden you're in this setting and you go out on that field and you're out there by yourselves and you have to rely on one another…you don't have that birdie in your ear telling you what to do. So those are valuable reps and steps for a young player to take at that position and trusting in fundamentals. I think there were some good things in there for our offensive line. But the key is - you make that one mistake and it's a sack or a tackle for loss, and that just can't occur."

On the fan calling the Hall reverse - "It was close…our split might have been a little off with Marvin…but that was fun. That's what this is all about. We embrace our fans, we love 'em…they are the best fans in America. To have an opportunity for a guy to catch a pass from Keith and to have another guy to call a play - I thought that was really cool."

On what happens next - "I think a couple things have to occur - now's the time for the real leadership of this team to take shape. We can't be on the field with them anymore. So when they are out there throwing or out there working out, for the leaders on this team to start to establish themselves…as well as incorporating our new 25 freshmen as they show up here in summer. And then ultimately, get ourselves to where we get an identity of truly who we are as an offense, defense and special teams football team in training camp, so we can lay that foundation, build on that, and then ultimately come week one have that identity in place and then take it and run with it."

On young players having to be leaders - "I don't think it's unusual. I've seen it numerous times. Some guys have leadership qualities about them that are almost innate. They have it. They are just looking for the opportunity to utilize them. We have some guys that are young players, but have really stepped up to become leaders. We saw that last year with Keith as a redshirt sophomore become a leader on this football team. We'll have new leaders; every football team every year across the country - it takes on a new personality each year. It's because of the leadership that's in place. We have to do a great job of instilling the opportunities for our leaders to rise up so that our other kids can follow along and understand the right way to do it."

On kicking guys off the field and penalties - "They were great learning lessons. They were guys, the bulk of those were redshirt freshman guys that haven't played a lot of football, real game-like situations. You have to understand - now we're back in game mode, and probably have to do a better job in practice corralling those moments so they don't carry themselves over. We've got to understand; if we're the retaliator, you're the one that's going to get caught. And that's not OK. So great teachable moments for us as a staff to teach to the team that those are self-inflicted wounds; those have nothing to do with preparation, those have nothing to do with playing the game - but those are killers…those 15-yarders, those late hits where I want to act out. You've got to save it. You've got to hold on to it and go play the game and you can't take that shot for the betterment of the team."

On Josh Shirley and improvement - "I love what Josh brings. Credit to coach Lupoi and coach Nansen and coach Wilcox of understanding Josh. Every kid is different; every kid is unique. You have to coach each of them differently and understand that. I think they've pushed the right buttons with Josh and have motivated Josh to be special; not just to be good, but special. Josh has continually responded. It showed up again today."

On characterizing the play of Thomas Vincent and Derrick Brown - "I thought they improved. I don't think they are where we need to be to go play yet. So there's a lot of work that needs to be done between now and early September. There's flashes of good plays, but ultimately there's a lot of game management issues that aren't okay yet. So we've got our work cut out for us to get them even better."

On the scoring grid - "I googled it. Or I should say in these parts - I Bing'd it. You're just looking for ways…I really wish we could have played a game. People can connect to it and relate to it better. We just couldn't do it. We tried to create a formula that would be competitive and it was competitive in the sense that the defense showed what the score resembled the play on the field. The defense won on the field, and ultimately they won on the scoreboard. And that's how it should have been scored."

On if Wilcox's plan fit the reality of what the coaches saw over the course of Spring Ball - "I don't know. Our expectations were that we were going to play really hard, we were going to play with great effort…that we'd be better in pass coverage because of Justin's teachings and what we could do. We could utilize some depth that I think we have on that side of the ball. We've got a lot of players over there and a lot of depth there at all three levels - d-line, linebackers and DB's. We moved some guys around and ultimately that showed up. It's a credit to Justin and those guys to get us to this point after 15 practices. Are we good enough? No. Justin would be the first one to tell you, we're not where we need to be yet, but we took the necessary steps to send us into the summer, and ultimately into fall camp, taking the proper steps to get us into a position where we can now latch back on in the fall and continue to grow…the influx of another almost 15 guys on the side of the ball - to take that next step to get ready for the fall. The necessary steps were taken that we were hopeful we could take. So we're excited about that, that's for sure."

One word to describe Spring Ball - "Competitive."





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