3 Wins in a Row; Now It's Sunny Again for the Huskies
Nov. 12, 2012
By Gregg Bell - UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - First came what coach Steve Sarkisian called a long-awaited, "complete performance" by his Huskies in routing Utah.
Now UW gets something really overdue: A game in actual, broad daylight.
"I'm pumped, man. I'm so excited to get up, eat breakfast and go to the stadium and play the game," Sarkisian said Monday of Saturday's game for resurgent Washington (6-4, 4-3 Pac-12) at Colorado (1-9, 1-6).
Is it really true that it begins at 10:30 a.m. Pacific time?
"Maybe these morning practices will finally pay off for us here the last couple weeks," Sarkisian said.
UW has had just one of its first 10 games start before 4 p.m. local time this season. But it will start this weekend at Folsom Field at 11:30 a.m. Mountain time. The following weekend, the day after Thanksgiving, the Apple Cup will kick off at 12:30 p.m. in Pullman.
No more waiting around the team hotel all day to play - for a welcome change.
"The 10:30 our time kickoff is about when we normally get off the field from practice, so I don't think waking up early and playing that game should be a big deal to us. We should be accustomed to that," Sarkisian said.
"I know the guys are actually pretty excited about it to get up the morning of the game and eat their Wheaties and go play."
Eating breakfast, lunch and dinner before last weekend's 7:30 kickoff against Utah worked out OK for the Huskies.
They held Utah to 188 yards of offense, a season-low for the UW defense. They gained 437 yards, with Bishop Sankey gaining 156 of those on 34 carries and Keith Price throwing for 277 more while completing 24 of 33 throws in the 34-15 win.
It was the first game since the opener Sept. 1 that Price didn't throw an interception. Washington won the turnover battle 2-1 and is plus-7 in its current, three-game winning streak (10 turnovers forced against only three lost).
In the three-game losing streak that preceded this revival, the Huskies were minus-10 (two turnovers forced, 12 lost).
That alone explains the turnaround and this shot at an 8-4 season.
"Defensively our ability to create turnovers is evident. It has been the last three weeks for us," Sarkisian said of the trend that began in the win over No. 7 Oregon State on Oct. 27. "The emphasis (is) of getting after the football. Our ability to take care of it last week was big against a Utah team that was very opportunistic. ... The ball security is improving. We're understanding that aspect of the game."
Quarterback Keith Price committed 10 turnovers himself in that three-game skid. He's committed two in the three wins since.
Price has renewed faith that if he throws the ball up in a manner that physical wide receiver Kasen Williams or 6-foot-6 tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins may have even a remote chance to make a play, the usually will.
Two days after Seferian-Jenkins passed Mark Bruener (1991-94) as UW's all-time leader in catches for a tight end with his 96th, ASJ became one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award given annually to the nation's best tight end. He is the only sophomore on the list.
His 55 receptions are a single-season school record and the most among tight ends in the country.
Yet as great as ASJ has been, it doesn't sound like it's surprising his coach.
"I think he's right on course," Sarkisian said.
That course will keep including defensive end, too.
Seferian-Jenkins played there for the first time in his life on about a half-dozen passing downs against Utah. He essentially became a third defensive end for UW; Andrew Hudson slid inside when ASJ entered opposite Josh Shirley to amp up the pass rush.
Seferian-Jenkins said he only played defensive back some while a star receiver at Gig Harbor High School.
He may be playing it again Saturday at Colorado.
"I don't think it's ever just going to go away. It's got to fit the game plan and who we're playing and what we're doing," Sarkisian said. "I thought he was relatively successful at doing that in the game.
"Obviously he didn't just beat the tackle and sack the quarterback, but he allowed us to move Hudson down inside to do some things from getting more speed on the field and utilizing that. I think that helped Andrew and he got a sack later in the ball game because of that."
Asked about any concerns with exposing the leading tight end in the country to more chances for injury on defense, Sarkisian compared it to the prospect of dynamic freshman linebacker Shaq Thompson perhaps playing running back someday.
"I think Austin is really healthy right now," the coach said. "Two, the need of what we need on defense from a pass rush standpoint for us to get off the field on defense on third down. I think if Shaq were to come over to offense it would be at running back and Bishop is playing pretty good right now. So I don't know what we'd get out of Shaq would be better than what we're getting out of Bishop.
"I won't rule out down the road at some point that Shaq wouldn't come over and do some things offensively, and it could be this week. I don't know. But we haven't gotten to that point yet."
Plus, Sarkisian said, it's not as if Seferian-Jenkins is banging in the trenches on running downs or in short-yardage situations.
Not yet, anyway. With all he can do and has already done with also winning a Pac-12 title as a forward with the Huskies' basketball team last spring, who knows?
INSIDE THE DAWGS: Sarkisian is hopeful CB and senior co-captain Desmond Trufant can play more at Colorado than he did after starting for the 45th consecutive time last week. "We'll see. Any time you are dealing with a hamstring ...," Sarkisian said. "It's not the severity where I can come out and say he's out for the next two weeks, like some guys have been. But it's enough that it's bothered him. And so hopefully we can get him more healthy this week than he was going into the game last week." ... Sarkisian said freshman DL Pio Vatuvei may be out for the season after getting hurt two weeks ago at California. ... John Timu's neck was sore after getting a stinger against Utah, but Sarkisian said his middle linebacker and sophomore co-captain "should be fine" to play at Colorado. ... LB Princeton Fuimaono missed the Utah game after two consecutive starts because of injury, and Sarkisian said he "could be held out for a couple more weeks here." And DT Josh Banks is not fully healthy. "So we were a bit nicked up on the defensive front," Sarkisian said. Thus, Seferian-Jenkins as a DE. ... The initial forecast in Boulder for Saturday's game calls for sun and 55 degrees.