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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Utes will host the first Pac-12 conference game this weekend against the Washington Huskies. The two teams will meet for the first time since 1979, and this will be the Huskies' first-ever visit to Salt Lake City. The Utes look to make history against Washington on Homecoming weekend, as the Huskies are the only Pac-12 team that Utah has never beaten in football.
Washington football is coached by Steve Sarkisian, who is in his third year in charge of the Husky program. Washington is coming off a win at home against California. Earlier this week, Sarkisian met with the media. Here's a summary of his comments.
On losing Hau’oli Jamora for the season to an ACL tear:
“(He has) unbelievable character; a great kid. Tremendous work ethic. Good student. For being such a young guy, he's a tremendous leader on and off the field. Then when you get to meet him he's got a very unique personality. ... From the moment I met him, his sense of humor came out of him. I thought, `That's a pretty confident kid.' It's going to be a good challenge for us to step up and replace him, not only on the field but in the meeting rooms, the locker room."
On the young Husky defense and depth:
“(It’s) encouraging, quite honestly. Were they perfect (Saturday)? No. But that's OK. We weren't perfect before, when they weren't playing," Sarkisian said of the defense. "It does speak volumes having young guys going in there. I think they're just going to get better as we continue to get them out on the field. We're just going to have to live with some of the growing pains of young guys playing, not just on defense but on offense as well."
On quarterback Keith Price and his ability to extend plays:
“I’d like to say we taught that all to him, but the reality of it is, this guy has that quality to his game. I don’t think it just all of the sudden came to him. I think it’s been that way for him since grade school and on to high school and into college now. I also think that it is a tribute to (QB coach/offensive coordinator) Doug Nussmeier and his ability to work with Keith to make good decisions and when to extend plays, when to throw the ball away. There’s a fine line there and Keith’s still learning, but he’s obviously made a few plays for us early on in the season.”
On linebacker and Utah native Cort Dennison:
”He’s a tremendous leader for this football team. He’s a guy that has played a lot of football for us in three years here. He’s tough-minded and plays tough, and (he) probably knows our defense better than I know all of the players, and if not a few of the coaches.”
On game-planning after a bye week:
“I think everybody is different in that aspect. I think there is something to be said about having a rhythm and playing week in and week out, especially early in the year. But for some people, it gives them the opportunity to extend your preparation, and they may deem that helpful. I guess we will just have to see on Saturday.”
On his relationship with Norm Chow:
“I was fortunate enough to play for him there at BYU, and we had a great run and a lot of tremendous wins together. Then to go on and work with him at SC, I learned a great deal. We’ve faced each other before, so I don’t feel like this is some monumental moment that I need to be concerned about. It’s about Utah versus Washington and that game and the big game, what it means to our conference.”
On turnover margin:
“We've got to find a way against this football team Saturday night to minimize their opportunities of getting a short field because of us turning it over. And we've got to find ways to capitalize on opportunities to create turnovers. It will be a big point of emphasis this week."
On what is unique about Utah’s defense:
“I don’t know if it is necessarily unique, but it is a great trait and what all great defenses have. They play hard; they play with amazing effort and fly to the football. In turn, that’s why they create so many turnovers. Obviously, you can tell (that) they teach tackling the football; the punch-outs, the swipes at the ball, all those things. But the thing that jumps out at you is how hard they play, and that’s a great trait to have for a good defensive team.”
Landon Walters is a history and political science major currently studying at Salt Lake Community College and is an avid sports fan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.