Sarkisian: UW played not to lose against Eastern

Sep 5, 2011, 3:56 PM | Updated: 10:49 pm

By Bill Swartz
97.3 KIRO FM sports anchor

Washington Husky football coach Steve Sarkisian is about as mad as I’ve seen him in a couple years. Assessing the Dawgs’ nail-biter 30-27 victory over underdog Eastern Washington, Sarkisian said his team “played a much too cautious brand of football.”

Sarkisian spent the first 10 minutes criticizing the performance of his players, staff, and himself.

“I thought we lacked energy,” he said. “I thought we lacked enthusiasm. I didn’t think we were physical at all, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

“Ultimately that stuff starts with me. I need to play call better and motivate better. We need to be better prepared from en emotional standpoint than we were Saturday, for sure.”

How will the Huskies get fired up for their next opponent, the Hawaii Warriors, this weekend in Seattle? It all starts with Monday’s practice.

Senior linebacker Cort Dennison says he’ll take it upon himself to get the team motivated.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure we’re all into the game,” Dennison said. “It’s not just going to be the players on the field. It’s going to be the offensive guys on the bench. It’s going to be a whole team effort.”

Sarkisian said part of the problem was many young players were getting their first game action. Some of them might have been “over-thinking” instead of just reacting.

“That was my biggest concern going into the game,” Sarkisian said. “What would we be like when the lights come on?

“Give credit to Eastern Washington. They played a very nice game. But the mentality of our team was off. To play cautiously is the last thing I want our teams to play with. We should be aggressive, we should be relentless, with a go for it mentality. For a team to play that way (cautiously) is one of the most disappointing things I’ve seen around here.”

There were some bright spots and positive injury news coming out of the Eastern Washington opener.

Sarkisian was pleased with the Huskies producing four turnovers. He also called the special teams performance “fantastic.” Placekicker Erik Folk booted three field goals, including a long of 53 yards. He was named Pac-12 special teams player of the week.

Quarterback Keith Price suffered a mild knee sprain when he slid to avoid a tackle. Price had to wear a protective brace during the second half. Sarkisian admits he had that injury in the back of his mind for some of his play calling. Price will be limited early in practices this week, but should be ready for the Hawaii game.

Leading receiver Jermaine Kearse hobbled off the field in the first half, but Sarkisian says his leg injury appears better today, and he should be well by Saturday. Linebacker Garret Gilliland suffered a concussion, but doctors are expected to clear him to practice.

Washington’s pass defense sorely missed senior cornerback Quinton Richardson, who has been recovering from a high ankle sprain suffered in training camp. Sarkisian expects Richardson to practice early in the week, and be re-evaluated Wednesday.

Hawaii beat another Pac-12 school, Colorado, 34-17 in Honolulu last Saturday. The Warriors are coached by one time Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Greg McMackin. Kickoff is 12:30 Saturday at Husky Stadium.

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Sarkisian: UW played not to lose against Eastern