Oct. 3, 2009
An Interview With:
COACH Steve Sarkisian
COACH SARKISIAN: Well, great college football game, you know, for everybody. It was exciting. Obviously it's frustrating when you had an opportunity like we had there in the fourth quarter to put the game in a situation to be a two score game, and we weren't able to do it. You know, the bottom line is this game came down to we had two opportunities to score touchdowns from the one yard line, two separate occasions, and we came away with three total points. That's the bottom line. Our kids played hard, I'm proud of them, and they battled a very good football team, a very well coached team. Our kids played hard. I'm proud of them.
COACH SARKISIAN: No, I wanted to make it a situation in the game where the field goal, just the structure of the game gave us that opportunity. Trust me, I thought about it, and you know me probably as well as anybody in the room right now. I'm very aggressive. I believe in our guys and I believe in what we do, but at that time that was the right thing to do.
COACH SARKISIAN: He's okay. He got his bell rung. He got a concussion. It was a great hit, almost one of the greatest catches of all time. But he'll be okay.
COACH SARKISIAN: I couldn't tell. I couldn't tell. I didn't know where he was, I didn't know if the momentum had stopped. It's tough to tell when you're not right on the line of scrimmage. It's tough to tell.
Q. It looked like on the 1st downs especially earlier on, it looked like you were trying to exploit something they were doing, maybe passing it as opposed to running it?
COACH SARKISIAN: Yeah, we thought we had an opportunity to spread them out and run some things on the perimeter. We didn't execute the way I wanted to early in the game, but we came out in the third quarter and started executing the way we wanted to, and our guys performed well. We functioned.
Q. Can you talk about Clausen for Notre Dame, just what you saw in him?
COACH SARKISIAN: He played a terrific game. There weren't very many things that were just clean for him in the pocket. A lot of what he did was when pressure came, he was able to avoid the rush, buy time, kept his vision extremely well and made a lot of plays down the field. Obviously 23, Golden Tate, a fantastic game for him, as well.
COACH SARKISIAN: I love what Chris Polk brought. He's a tough kid. He's a red shirt freshman and he's still learning, but valiant effort. Really, really played extremely well.
COACH SARKISIAN: Well, when we got down there, we obviously did some things to get to that point, and then there's not a whole lot of secrets, but we have a great belief in our quarterback, which I think we should. He's a tremendous player. He's a tremendous athlete. So we sneaked twice in a row. The first one was so close, we almost challenged it. So we came with a different formation and tried it again, and they did a great job. You know, they did a good job. It was so close. It felt almost odd when you look at both drives, I've never seen guys get tackled that close to the goal line that many times. I don't know if maybe some frustration set in on my part or on our kids' part not getting in the end zone, to make it a mindset thing. But great job on their part of just staying tall and believing in the next play, and they held up.
COACH SARKISIAN: No, there was a lot going on. To score a touchdown and then it get called back, there were some big 3rd down conversions in there. It was, like I said in the opening, a great college football game. For all the things that happened in this ballgame, I think as a fan everybody loved it. It obviously hurts in our locker room right now. Our kids performed with great effort, and it was something we wanted to address after last week's game versus Stanford, and I thought they did that. We played extremely hard in a very good college football game. Unfortunately it just didn't come out for us.
Q. On the replay it looked like it was good. Did you get a vantage point on it?
COACH SARKISIAN: It looked good, but there's no replay in the stadium, so we have to go with what they said. If he was down, he was down. We've got to call another play. The thing when you look at it from our perspective is we didn't get in the end zone after that. And when you have the ball 1st and goal at the 1, you should score a touchdown, and we were not able to do it.
Q. Talking about not getting into the end zone, you were able to hold them to field goals five times, as well. Can you talk about your defensive effort in the red zone?
COACH SARKISIAN: It was huge. They were able to move the ball. They're a very good offensive football team. We knew for us to really play the way we wanted to play on defense we had to create turnovers, which we were obviously able to do; and two, we had to hold them to field goals, not touchdowns in the red zone, and we were able to do that. Our defense gave us an opportunity to win the game, no doubt.
Q. What was Tate doing to get so open?
COACH SARKISIAN: You know, I think he's a really good player, one; and they do a nice job with their scheme of moving him around to put him this spots. He does not line up to one spot on the field. He's all over the place; he's in the backfield, he's in the slot, he's at wide receiver. Then I thought the second thing that played a big factor is the quarterback did a good job of buying time, and so there was designed routes for him, but then his football savvy kicked in, and then Golden Tate is wandering across the field and now coverages break down, and when you buy that much time and a guy is back there for five, six, seven seconds, that's how people get open.
Q. Justin Glenn, do you have an update on him?
COACH SARKISIAN: He's got a broken fibula.
Q. Were there any other injuries?
COACH SARKISIAN: I think Nate Williams got a concussion, and D'Andre looks like he has a concussion.
Q. Troufant had a fumble recovery for a touchdown and also made a couple tackles that allowed you to get some stops there. Talk a little bit about his performance.
COACH SARKISIAN: I think Desmond Troufant is a premier football player. For a true freshman to continue to make the plays he's making, it's not just on defense, he covers punts, he covers kicks, he's on the field all the time, he makes plays on the ball. I'm very proud of Desmond. He's a tough minded kid, and he's also just tough hearted. He stands in there tall and believes in himself.
COACH SARKISIAN: Well, nothing surprises me. We've never tried to put limitations on our kids of how long it's supposed to take for you to play. Coming here with the belief of you're going to play right now, and if you show us that you can, we're going to keep putting you out there. I think James Johnson has done that, Desmond Troufant has done that, Talia Crichton has done that, Andru Pulu, that's why those guys play.
Q. Just within this half a season, the culture has changed immediately in Washington. USC wins, great game today. Can you point to any one or two things that have just changed what looked like to be an absolutely dismal situation in a short period of time for you?
COACH SARKISIAN: I think it's a credit to our coaching staff, the intensity but yet their ability to teach good football. And our kids to their credit have been extremely willing. Everything we've asked them to do they've bought in, they've been willing. So you know, I'm proud of our guys in the sense that it doesn't matter what the other team wears on the other sidelines. It doesn't matter if it's LSU or USC or Notre Dame. They're not as concerned about that. They're concerned about going out and playing a brand of football they believe in, and I think we've been doing that.
Q. What did you say to your guys before overtime? It didn't look like there was much chatter on the sideline, but what was the message before OT started?
COACH SARKISIAN: The message is any time you get into overtime it's execution. It's not one play, it's a series of plays, you need to go out and execute it. We didn't in my opinion execute the way we had been performing in the second half. I know that for sure offensively. We took a big sack that we didn't need to take, and there were some things that occurred there in that overtime that we hadn't been doing. So we've got to address it better. We need to stick to our plan of just keep playing football.
Q. What happened out there?
COACH SARKISIAN: I'm not real sure.
Q. Can you talk about the mood of the team after the two point conversion, and what did you tell them to get them ready for that last drive?
COACH SARKISIAN: Here we go. This is our opportunity. We've been here before. We've driven in tough situations before, in two minute situations. We obviously have a very big belief in our quarterback and we've got a nice receiving corps that we can count on to make plays. Obviously the big play to James Johnson was there, and I was proud of our guys because we missed the one to Kearse earlier that could have been a big play, and Jake came right back and hit James Johnson for the big one.
COACH SARKISIAN: He's a nice player. I've known Manti now for some years in recruiting him. He's a nice player. He's a guy that is obviously a physical kid, and he's got a bright future.