The Huskies’ preseason All-American tight end is back with the first-team offense after sitting out the opening win over Boise State. He says his surgically repaired finger is not limited him at all.
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE -- That Huskies’ high-speed offense that just ransacked Boise State is now getting its most lethal receiving weapon back.
Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is getting more out this bye week than perhaps any other Husky. He’s using this time before 20th-ranked Washington’s next game Sept. 14 against Illinois (1-0) at Chicago’s Soldier Field to get in game shape -- to keep pace with UW’s new, ultra-fast, no-huddle scheme.
"I’m not where I want to be — yet," the preseason All-American said following Wednesday’s practice at Husky Stadium that lasted just under two hours. "But today I felt like I was running with the first team just as good as everyone else.
"I think I am in pretty good shape now, but I think I will be in excellent shape by next Thursday (when the Huskies leave for Chicago). I’ll be in top gear by then.
"It’s a great week to have a bye."
This week is also a great opportunity for him to get used to catching and blocking with his surgically repaired right pinkie that has a pin in it. He said he’s having no limitations doing either task with the finger, which he broke three weeks ago.
Seferian-Jenkins did something last week that he has never done since perhaps he was a tyke watching big boys play ball: He was relatively healthy but on the sidelines cheering on teammates’ big plays rather than making his own.
Seferian-Jenkins warmed up in uniform with the Huskies before the game but then served internal team discipline during it.
When his replacement last week, converted wide receiver Joshua Perkins, had his first career catch go for the touchdown that gave UW a commanding, 24-6 lead late in the third quarter, Seferian-Jenkins was pumped for his teammate. So pumped that an official gave ASJ a warning for coming far off the sideline to celebrate with Perkins.
"He’s done above and beyond what we’ve asked of him," coach Steve Sarkisian said this week, reiterating what he said of Seferian-Jenkins all offseason and preseason. "He’s been a very good teammate."
The 6-foot-6 junior acknowledges in this post-practice video say.ly/SBb6ERk “it was different just because I wasn’t playing” but that otherwise he embraced his temporary role.
"I wanted to come out here and support my team, and do everything that I could, whatever I can," he said. "Just because you are not playing doesn’t mean that you aren’t part of the team. People misunderstand the importance of guys that aren’t playing. Just because you don’t play on Saturday, the service (team) guys, the special-teams guys, the guys that don’t get to play as much, they have just a big a role in team wins.
"I just wanted to make sure of my role in encouraging the guys that were playing."
As for his tumultuous offseason, Seferian-Jenkins said, “What’s happened has happened. I’ve moved on. I think everyone here has moved on, especially the guys on the team have moved on and everyone else has moved on. That’s the most important thing, what the guys on the team think and what the coaching staff thinks.
"We are all trying to get better every day. That’s a thing in the past now."
As for the immediate future, wide receiver Kasen Williams was the latest Husky teammate to envision what could potentially become of an offense that lit up Boise State for 592 yards and 38 points without Seferian-Jenkins.
"For us to put up those numbers and look that much better without Austin,” Williams said, “that’s kind of crazy.”
INSIDE THE DAWGS: Wednesday’s full-pads practice had an emphasis on tackling, after defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox counted 17 missed tackles against Boise State. Getting low and in proper tackling position in front of ball carriers has been the theme all week. … Sarkisian has added spice to this week without a game by having his players try new roles, for fun. For instance, Williams said he was kicking 40-yard field goals early this week. Wednesday, he was a defensive back covering one-on-one against pass routes run by senior safety Will Shamburger, who was excellent aggressively defending the run and pass in the opener. How’d that role reversal go, Kasen? "I don’t want to talk about it," Williams, a high-school safety, said half-joking. "Looking and leaning as a cornerback is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.” … Sarkisian was upbeat and said “I had a blast today” watching a spirited, physical practice. The final session was first offense versus first defense. That had the whole team howling its support. "For a Wednesday on a bye week, I couldn’t have asked for more," the coach said. … The team will have a shorter session Thursday, which will include all four phases of special-teams play. The players then have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off before repeating this week’s game-plan installation for Illinois next week and then leaving for Chicago on Sept. 12.