By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE – There was a noticeably excited vibe and sense of renewal to practices on Monday, the 17th and 18th of 24 sessionsbefore game week begins for the Huskies’ opener against Boise State.
Coach Steve Sarkisian liked the energy both the offense and defense had in the special-situation drills such as red-zone scrimmaging, goal-line situations and two-point conversions Monday night
Why all the extra juice?
The Dawgs just fully moved into their new house.
Our new “Bell on the Beat” blog detailed Sunday’s takeover of the new locker room, training room and weight room beneath the west stands of new, $261 million Husky Stadium:http://tmblr.co/ZRc2tqsieqGP.
There’s even a new barbershop — complete with an about-to-be-installed, red-white-and-blue barber pole — next to the locker room.
Sarkisian posed this challenge to his team on the Husky Stadium field immediately after practice ended Monday night: Sure, you are all flying around now, refreshed after a day off and by the new facilities. Now, which guys are going to prove to be dependable Tuesday, through two practices Wednesday and through the rest of the hot, tiring week heading into full preparations for the Aug. 31opener?
“My job the next three or four days is to assess the guys that can really show courage when it gets hard again,” Sarkisian said. “Tonight was great, and I loved it because they are all fresh and energized and flying around because they are having fun. Now here comes Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
“Who can I count on … when it gets hard? Because the games are going to get hard.”
What’s not hard: the Huskies’ new facilities.
Keith Price laughed when comparing the team’s new surroundings compared to their old locker, weight room and training rooms in the basement of Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
"It’s awesome man. It’s night and day. It’s not even close," the fifth-year senior quarterback said. "Oh, man, it’s very professional.
"The locker room is off the charts. Oh, man, it’s off the charts. It’s huge. It’s HUGE! All the flat screens around — I don’t even think we need all those flat screens. They are everywhere. Everywhere you turn you walk into a flat screen."
Or, as classmate Will Shamburger — who with Price are only members of Sarkisian’s first UW recruiting class from February 2009 still on the team — said: “Everything … it’s just overwhelming.”
When asked about the new digs senior safety Sean Parker, one of the team’s undisputed leaders, thought first of the hundreds of men and women from Turner Construction and the various design teams that have been working nights, weekends for the last 21 months to complete the massive project.
"It’s world class," Parker said. "I’m proud of the workers that dedicated their lives and their time to build this beautiful stadium. It’s for the future, as well.
"I’ll always want to come back," the native of Gardena, Calif., said, "because this feels like my home."
“JO-JO” ON THE GO UP THE DEPTH CHART
Sarkisian singled out defensive lineman Joe Mathis for having a particularly outstanding practice — after the coaches thought thefreshman had dipped in performance in Saturday’s scrimmage andin the practice immediately before it.
"As soon as we had a break he came up to me and said, ‘I’m back,’" Sarkisian said of the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Mathis.
The coach’s reaction to a true freshman making such a proclamation to his new head coach?
"Good. I can’t wait to see it tomorrow."
Mathis is getting a lot of time at defensive tackle, though he is listed as an end. He and converted tight end Evan Hudson have been the two surprising additions this month to the starting defensive line that is seeking an improved pass rush.
“I like Jo-Jo’s explosiveness coming off the ball,” Sarkisian said. “He uses his hands really well for a young guy in the run game. And then, when it’s time to rush the passer, he’s got great effort. He’s relentless in his effort. That’s what makes him unique.”
ASJ ON FIELD BUT VERY LIMITED
Austin Seferian-Jenkins did stretching and walk-through drills early in Monday’s second practice with his offensive teammates. Then the tight end got on an exercise bike.
The preseason All-American had in pin placed into the pinkie finger of his right hand in surgery Thursday. Sarkisian said Friday he does not know whether the Huskies will have the top weapon available for the opener, but Price and other teammates are convinced Seferian-Jenkins will be healthy enough to play.
The coach said Monday that Seferian-Jenkins and two-year startingoffensive lineman Erik Kohler, who sustained a foot injury in June that has had him in walking boot this month, are the only starters whose health may keep them out of the first game.
INSIDE THE DAWGS: UW has one practice Tuesday, in the afternoon at Husky Stadium. Sarkisian said the coaches were meeting Monday night to make some personnel decisions, so he wasn’t ready to declare a winner in the kicking and punting competition between Travis Coons, Cameron Van Winkle and Korey Durkee, among others. … Here’s a video that is doubly good for the Huskies: RB Jesse Callier practicing kickoff returns two weeks short of a year after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee -- and a scan of the new video ribbon boards that run from the northeast to southeast corners of Husky Stadium:http://say.ly/Eul6xtN