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No Messing Around In Huskies' Unusually Intense Thursday Practice
Release: 09/08/2011
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Sept. 8, 2011

PARK & RIDE USERS, PLEASE NOTE: Due to Mercer St. ramp closures this weekend, Metro Service from the Federal Way and Renton Park & Ride locations has been altered. Click here for Federal Way schedule. Click here for Renton schedule. Metro urges fans to arrive at the Park & Ride locations earlier than normal.

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By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing

SEATTLE -Steve Sarkisian loves to be open and fun-loving. His players revel in their reputation for having fans at unique practices. They smile and shimmy to the music that blares each day across the field.

Yes, the Huskies and their coach embrace their openness . But they don't embrace their opening performance last week.

That's why Washington's practice was closed and tightened with game-like intensity Thursday afternoon inside Husky Stadium. The final, full workout before kickoff against Hawaii (1-0) Saturday at 12:30 p.m. (ROOT Sports television, the Washington IMG College radio network and here on GoHuskies.com for the live game chat and streaming audio) became 90 of the most intense minutes in a game-week practice since Sarkisian and his staff arrived for the 2009 season.

No fans. No boosters. No media. No messing around.

It was a continuation of the clear, buck-up tone Sarkisian set Monday following Washington's 30-27 escape past Eastern Washington, the Huskies' successful yet unsatisfying start to this season of heightened standards and expectations.

"This Thursday practice, I wanted it to be a hard one. I wanted it to be hard-nosed," Sarkisian said, dripping with sweat after leaving the field on the 85-degree day. "Sometimes our Thursday practices have a tendency to be a little bit light -- not light in the sense of we're not going hard, but just light-hearted. And I wanted to make sure it wasn't that. I didn't need people out there with our guys.

"I wanted us really locked in and sharp and hard, and it was. It was exactly what I was hoping to have happen."

What Sarkisian hopes to have happen Saturday is more intensity along both lines of scrimmage, and even in his own coaching. Against Eastern he saw a tentative, late-arriving pass rush, substandard aggression along the offensive line and his own, admittedly conservative play calling once quarterback Keith Price sprained his knee in the first half and played on while wearing a brace.

"You're opening the season, you have high hopes, you come in and you don't perform to the best of your abilities. We've got to fix that," Sarkisian said. "That's the mentality. So now it's like, what do we need to fix?

"And I think we've addressed it."

The conservative play calling may have healed itself: Price is fine now, after fully participating in practice for the second consecutive day. He is expected to start this second meeting between UW and Hawaii since 1973. The sophomore says he expects to wear a brace far more form-fitting and less constricting than the relative pair of 2x4s he hurriedly strapped onto each side of his leg during last week's game.

"I'll be ready," Price said Monday.

The Huskies hope to address some of their issues in pass defense by simply welcoming back Quinton Richardson. The senior cornerback is likely to start in a three-cornerback scheme that will also include Desmond Trufant, who saved last week's win with an end-zone interception in the final minutes, and opening starter Greg Ducre.

Richardson missed last week's game because of a high ankle sprain he sustained Aug. 13. He watched as Eastern threw for 473 yards on quick passes out of spread formations Hawaii is also likely to use Saturday.

"Having Quinton back is big for us," Sarkisian said.

The offensive line's charge? Sarkisian will leave fiery, demanding O-line coach Dan Cozzetto to carry out his mission there.

It seems every position group, every player, has gotten his message this week.

"It was good. Really intense," Sarkisian said of the unusual practice. "I enjoyed it. I thought it was great.

"The guys are probably tired of being harped on by coaches."

QUICK HITS: Freshman backup safety James Sample, who was on the field for EWU's decisive, final drive last week because Justin Glenn developed cramps, is unlikely to play against Hawaii. Sarkisian said Sample injured his shoulder on the next-to-last play of the opener and it isn't healing as quickly as the team had hoped. ... All other Huskies are expected to play, including WR Jermaine Kearse (sprained ankle). "He's had a great week of work, I mean, a really great week of work," Sarkisian said of his senior co-captain, who got hurt in the first quarter last week and did not return. "I'm excited to see him back out there." ... Another description from Sarkisian for 1,400-yard rusher Chris Polk, who ran for 125 yards last week and is back looking even more like himself in this, his first full week of work since arthroscopic knee surgery Aug. 18: "He's our bell cow."

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