Defensive Improvements Have Husky Head Coach Steve Sarkisian Excited

May 18, 2010, 6:02 PM | Updated: Apr 4, 2011, 7:55 pm

You gotta love your chances when you’ve got a Heisman candidate leading your team, don’t you? Jim and I had the chance to chat with Husky Football Head Coach, Steve Sarkisian, today. What intrigued me was how he thought the defense was looking better this year than it did last year, even though they lost their best players on that side of the ball (LB Donald Butler and DE Daniel Teo’Neshiem).

Sark also had some very interesting things to say about the backup QB steve-sarkisian-p1situation with RS Freshman Keith Price and true Freshman Nick Montana both showing promise this spring. Not sure the Dawgs want to see Jake Locker go down, but it sounds like Sark is satisfied with the guys behind him.

Here’s what the coach had to say:

Sark on how the defense has improved despite losing its stars (LB Donald Butler and DE Daniel Teo’Nesheim):

“I think the biggest thing about that is that…at times, other guys can look to (Butler and Teo’Nesheim) to make plays for them. And I think this spring our guys played collectively and equally as 11 guys playing fast, aggressive football believing in the scheme, and ultimately I think we’re better for it.”

On Jake Locker being allowed to run more next year:

I think that’s what they can expect. Ultimately, coming into the year and throughout the year there was a big thing made about how Jake had to learn a new system and Jake had to learn the pro-style offense. Well, we were learning Jake Locker as well, and what he did well and the things that he thrived at…But once we got to that last final week we got to really assess the things we did well, the things he was doing well, we kinda thought to ourselves, ‘if we can get him 8-10 carries a ballgame, I think it’d be advantageous not for just us as an offense, but Jake as a football player to get him into the game.'”

Keith Price ( backup QB Keith Price:

Keith Price as a [redshirt] freshman guy really has matured physically. He came in at about 170 lbs. soaking wet and now he’s up over 190 lbs. He’s got terrific feet. And the thing I really admire about him is that he has the arm strength and the ball can really rip through the wind, which is important at Husky Stadium. I love the growth that he’s put in in a year now.”

On backup QB Nick Montana:

Nick Montana, what he was able to do as really a high school senior this spring, to come in…he has an innate ability to not get rattled. He has tremendous huddle presence. I think he’s a little taller than people thought. I think he has better arm strength than people thought. He’s able to throw the ball in Husky Stadium just fine-in the worst days of Husky Stadium.”

On deciding between the two backups if Locker goes down:

“Backup quarterbacks are always inexperienced until they’re the starter, inevitably, and that’s kind of the way it is. Hopefully we can continue to put them in situations in practice where they can get great experience, great reps so that once they’re installed they can go in and perform the way we want them to perform…We’re excited about both of these guys. The beauty of it is that we don’t have to name that spot. We’re going to continue to let those guys battle and compete all the way through camp and see where they’re at come the week of the BYU game.”

Nick Montana 5-18On Joe Montana’s reaction to his son Nick’s game winning TD pass in the Spring Game:

“On the last play of the Spring Game when Nick throws the winning touchdown pass there to Leonard, that’s the same exact play-obviously going in the opposite direction-that Joe Montana runs and hits Dwight Clark on to beat the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game. I just wanted to make sure he didn’t have a little tear in his eye up there in the stands when Nicky completed it.”


On Redshirt Safety Will Shamburger’s surprisingly positive spring:

Will was a kid who actually tore his ACL his senior year of basketball season…When a kid commits to us prior to signing day, we’re sticking with that kid regardless of injury, whatever might happen. Will blew his knee out, we stuck with him, we signed him, he came to school, was unable to perform all fall long. He came back this winter, really worked hard in the off-season, and came out in Spring ball and showed us a bunch of really great things. As far as athleticism, natural football instincts, ball skills, an aggressiveness to step up and really tackle people and hit people in the hole. All in all, it was a big success all the way around for us and I’m just anxious to watch this guy go out and play this fall.”

Your thoughts on the upcoming Husky season are welcome below.

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Defensive Improvements Have Husky Head Coach Steve Sarkisian Excited