Steve Sarkisian post-game quotes - USC

Steve Sarkisian (Kim Grinolds/Dawgman.com)

LOS ANGELES - We caught up with Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian after Washington's 40-17 loss to USC Saturday at the LA Coliseum, and Sarkisian pointed to a lack of execution as one of the main culprits for the Huskies' failures - especially on offense. So what do they need to do to get back on track, in his eyes?

Opening Comment - Well I think the reality of it is, when you play a good football team - you have to execute. As I touched on with the team, this isn't about want-to. We all wanted to win the football game. Our kids wanted to win the game. I don't think it was for a lack of effort. It was a lack of execution, quite honestly. Football is a pretty simple game; you've gotta block, you've gotta tackle, and you've gotta run. And we didn't do that very well tonight. And to top that off with 11 penalties for I think for about a hundred yards - especially a couple at some crucial moments, like the 3rd and 20, a pass interference - that's the game in a nutshell. It's concerning offensively - 12 sacks in two weeks; the lack of execution is concerning to me. And then the biggest glaring thing on special teams and on defense was our inability to tackle. I don't think it was that there were guys wide open downfield, or gaping holes for guys to run with; we didn't tackle. so the fundamentals of the game are what we need to get back to so that we can match our execution with our want-to. Because I know our kids want to do well, I know they want to win, I know they want to play hard, which they do. But we have to execute so that those two things can marry up and so that we can play good football."

On Keith Price - "He's sore…we don't think it's serious. He's sore, and I just felt like where the game was at and what was happening, it was time to put Nicky in."

On if Price could have come back in if the game was close - "I think he could have, but I don't know that for sure. I wasn't even in that frame of mind, thinking that way."

On seeing progress the last month - "Well I think the last two weeks, especially offensively, we haven't progressed. That's fair to say. We just haven't found a rhythm offensively the last two weeks that is what we're accustomed to. And that's probably the biggest disappointment of where the progress hasn't occurred. But again, the season to me is an entire body of work, and I think there's still a lot left out there for us to do, and to play for, and then we can assess our progress at the end of the year come January to see where we're at as a program."

On assessing the breakdowns with the sacks - "I think there were some issues up front. We knew it was going to be a tough matchup for us; they've got some tremendous defensive linemen. But our identification was poor, quite honestly, on a few of them. We didn't block guys, a couple of times. And then they did some nice things with some coverages to where our reads got off, and we were looking in the wrong direction, and it made us play a little slower at the quarterback position. When you force a quarterback to do that, and you've got a good pass rush, you create sacks that way."

On the fake punt - "They faked it - and the guys responsible for the fake didn't see it…didn't execute."

On the shotgun snaps and going to a pistol look - "The shotgun snaps have been concerning for me for three weeks now, and we touched on it all week in practice that it needed to change or something like that would happen, and it finally got us. So hopefully that changes things."

On making changes on the O-line during the game, like Hatchie in for Kohler - "Yeah, and we're going to consider it even more this week."

On how Oregon and Stanford will match up - "I don't know. I don't have to worry about them anymore."

On using a lot of short passes early in the game - "That was partially the defense. Again, we knew SC has a tremendous front four, and I just didn't want to be back there patting the ball, like we ended up having to do when the game got away from us. And when you do that against Nick Perry and Wes Horton and those guys, they can rush the passer."

On taking the ball to start the game - "I wanted to get our offensive mojo going. I wanted us feeling good about taking the field, taking the ball and going out and executing and playing our style of football…and for whatever reason, that didn't happen. And that's our job. We have to figure out why, so we can find the rhythm that I know we're capable of playing with, because we played with it for the first half of the season. Those are all the challenges of the season as you work your way through it and you've got to deal with issues and things that come and what our points of emphasis are. Again, I don't think it's for a lack of want-to; I think our kids really wanted to play well and I think they tried hard. We didn't execute."

On the easiest thing to fix with a couple games left - "I don't know…I hate to say that it's easy to do, or we should have fixed it by now. But I'd like to think that we can tackle better on that side of the football. I'd like to think that next week we're not going to take three pass interference penalties on fade routes. I'd like to think we'd run block better than we've been run blocking the past couple weeks."

On if beating a top-25 program meets his expectations for progress - "I don't know. We've beaten them before. We just haven't done it this year. We've beaten five in two years but just haven't done it this year. And tip my hat to SC; they are a good team and they've really improved. Lane has done a nice job. And Stanford is good, and Oregon is good, and Nebraska is good. I don't think we're very far away; we just haven't played well against those teams. And maybe I haven't given them enough credit that way either. I do think we've improved immensely as we're heading into the end of year three, but there's definite obvious room for improvement as we continue to grow as a program."

On the Austin Seferian-Jenkins catch that was overturned - "I knew it was going to be a bang-bang play - that's part of the reason why we kind of hurried up to the ball, but we couldn't get the ball snapped."

On having a lull at the end of last year and if it's feeling like it's happening again - "I think there's something with the scheduling with school that I have to do a better job as the head coach figuring out. I know the last two weeks that our guys have been in the middle of mid-terms and things, so there's a little more going on around them school-wise. So maybe there is something there to look into in more depth as a coaching staff in understanding the psyche of what our kids are dealing with on a daily basis."

On feeling good about bouncing back next week - "I definitely think so. We're a resilient group. Again, our kids really want to do well: They're on board, they're believing in what we're doing, they're believing in what we're doing. It's not about their want-to or their effort. They are a very prideful group and they are resilient. I know it hurts, I know it stings, I know it's not fun to be in a locker room like this after a tough game when they thought they could have come out and performed against a good team. But I do know that they'll get back up. And I do know that they'll come back to work Monday and start trying to fix the issues that need to be fixed."

On any injuries outside of Price - "No. I think we came out pretty good."

On if the sacks are getting to Keith more than just physically - "I don't think so. Keith's a pretty tough-minded kid. The issues come when you fall behind, and you get behind early in a game where you shouldn't have been that far behind where it was. And that part is the part that's probably the most frustrating for Keith. You don't play well, you look up and you're behind. And then you get going, score a touchdown, kick off, and they do it again. So I think that part gets more frustrating than just the sacks."

On Nick Montana's game - "I thought he got going. There's so many little things within the game - the nuances within the game that a quarterback has to understand; the play clock, the things of that nature, matchups and whatnot. But I thought he got going. And I was happy that he was able to throw a touchdown to Kasen at the end. It was good for him."

On Keith still being his guy if he's healthy - "Oh yeah."

On what he saw on the opening kickoff of the second half - "The guy ran into a pile. We were all around him, and he went around us. From what I could tell, that's what it looked like. I was really surprised we didn't tackle him."

On the halftime message - "Let's go win the second half. Forget the score of what's going on and what happened in the first half; we didn't play well. We ran twenty-something plays, I think we had eight penalties at halftime, all the things that had gone on…let's go win the second half. We came up short. I think it was 17-14 in the second half."

On the emotional highs of winning and losing - "When you lose, you lose. I hate losing. I love winning, but I really hate losing. When you lose, a loss is a loss. I'm appreciative that my family and my friends are able to be here. I saw them before the game, and hopefully I'll see them again at whatever bowl game we go to at the end of December."

On if Kasen could be more involved the last two weeks - "Potentially yeah. That could be part of it, depending on the game plan and who we're playing, and all that."

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