Nov. 3, 2009
As the Husky football team turns it focus to its matchup with UCLA this Saturday in the Rose Bowl, much of the talk at Monday's weekly press conference was centered on the benefits of last week's bye.
The Dawgs, of course, had their first bye week of the 2009 season last weekend after eight straight Saturdays of tough games. In fact, according to the NCAA rankings, Washington's schedule through the first nine weeks of the season was the second-toughest in the nation.
The off week was generally welcomed by head coach Steve Sarkisian as it gave the coaching staff and the team a little time to step back, re-assess and, most of all, get a bit healthier, from both a physical and mental standpoint.
While some of the players with more long-term injuries will continue to sit out, all of the smaller nicks and bruises that generally go unnoticed by the general public had time to get better.
"It was nice to be able to have a couple days just to get away, hang out, relax and spend some time with my family and friends," said quarterback Jake Locker. "I think for the most part everybody feels the same way coming back from the bye week mentally and physically refreshed and ready to go.''
The bye week also gave the coaches a chance to look at some younger players in practice and to take a more detailed look at what aspects of the team's play needed to be addressed.
"Our efficiency in the red zone's got to be better," said Coach Sarkisian, when asked for an example of areas of concern. "That's been an underlying theme in the games where we haven't performed the way we would have liked to.''
Sarkisian also pointed to several younger players who used the week of practice to possibly earn more playing time in the regular season's final four games. He mentioned true freshmen Jordan Wallace, Talia Crichton, Andru Pulu and Demitrius Bronson and JC transfer tight end Dorson Boyce as examples.
Additionally, a few players who have missed playing time due to injury or illness took advantage of the rest, including veteran defensive linemen Cameron Elisara and Kalani Aldrich and tailback Johri Fogerson.
Lastly, the coaches used the break from practices (the team didn't hold workouts last Thursday through Saturday) to get out on the road to see high school football games. Sarkisian estimated that members of his staff were able to see 30 high school games last weekend.
Kickoff Saturday vs. UCLA is slated for 12:30 p.m. The game will air live on Fox Sports Northwest (other than in Oregon), on Prime Sports in southern California and on FCS-Central as well as on radio via the Washington ISP Sports Network.