The coach and his staff fanned out Thursday to recruit high school games while UW’s players get three days off. Steve Sarkisian will then rush back to Seattle to volunteer at his son’s first youth-league game with the Junior Wolverines.
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE – This is Washington’s earliest bye week since 2004, a season in which it also came immediately after UW’s opener.
The players are off this weekend. The coaches aren’t. Steve Sarkisian and his assistants were rushing off campus late Thursday morning following practice. They were catching flights for recruiting trips over this Huskies bye weekend. Sarkisian is going back to his native southern California. He and his staff will scout high school games Thursday and Friday.
But Sarkisian won’t be staying out through Saturday. He is rushing back home to Seattle.
Turns out, the bye doesn’t mean the head coach doesn’t have football this weekend.
"No, I’ve got a big-time game on Saturday," Sarkisian said of his son Brady’s youth-league opener in the Seattle suburbs. "2:45 Saturday. The Junior Wolverines. First game of the year. I’m fired up for it.
“First tackle football game of his life.”
Sarkisian isn’t just going to be a dad in the stands with his wife Stephanie and their two daughters. And he’s not going to be a volunteer coach, either, though he might be qualified for that job.
He’s going to be calling the action at Brady’s game.
“I think I’m the announcer. Every parent has to volunteer,” Sarkisian said. “So I made sure I told my wife that I want the bio on every guy, what his hobbies are, nicknames, all sorts of stuff.”
Sarkisian’s travels and jobs during the bye got a little easier, thanks to his Labor Day weekend.
The coach acknowledged “a little momentum” in recruiting following the Huskies’ 38-6 win over 19th-ranked Boise State last Saturday on national television and UW’s subsequent entry in the Associated Press poll at No. 20 this week.
"That’s helpful," he said.
“It’s a chance for us, early on, having a bye so early, for us to get to see some guys play that maybe we’re trying to figure out. So we are getting to see that, as well.”
There’s a reason Sarkisian and his staff are fanning out across California: 51 players on the current roster, almost exactly half the team, are from The Golden State. So is much of Sarkisian’s staff.
For example: Assistant head coach, running backs coach and special-team coach Johnny Nansen, a key recruiter of southern California, went to Long Beach Jordan High School. The Huskies have three current players from Long Beach Jordan: inside linebacker and co-captain John Timu, outside linebacker Princeton Fuimaono and offensive lineman Siosifa Tufunga.
Thursday morning’s rare September thunderstorm, with lightning cackling all around the UW campus, forced the Huskies indoors for the first time since spring practice. Then soon after they began the session, the power went out at the Dempsey Indoor facility.
Yet the Dawgs kept charging on in the dark.
"No distractions, right?" Sarkisian said with a laugh after the final workout of this bye week, which ended with the third-team offense and defense scrimmaging.
The coach was pleased that the four practices this week were “really intense with a lot of energy.” That’s far from a given, obviously, when there isn’t a game waiting on the weekend. The starting defense focused on tackling fundamentals and many reserves got extra work.
INSIDE THE DAWGS: Sarkisian reports the health of his team is “really good,” the best it’s been following any of his five openers at UW. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins said Wednesday that his surgically repaired right pinkie, which has a pin in it, is not limiting him at all when he catches the ball or blocks. The preseason All-America is getting ready to make his season debut next week against the Illini. … OL Erik Kohler remains in a walking boot, though this week he was also in full pads during practices. "We’re just trying to get him going, get him motivated," Sarkisian said of his two-year starter, who came back from knee and quadriceps injuries in the spring then injured his left foot in June. Kohler’s eventual return will add needed, experienced depth to an offensive line that is planning on playing a warp speed without huddling all season. … This is the sixth time in 70 seasons the Huskies have had a bye immediately after week one. The 1991 national-championship team had one this early after routing Stanford in its opener, then won at ninth-ranked Nebraska following the early bye, a signature win in that perfect season. UW has gone 3-2 in the games following such an early bye (in 2004, ’01, 1998, ’95 and ’91). The ‘04 team is the only previous one that had a bye this early and did not go on to play in a bowl.