For the first 15-20 minutes of UW’s practice today, there was a glorious silence (other than the sounds of football).
Then it returned, the incessant pounding of “Tribute to Troy,” as UW coach Steve Sarkisian ordered the song played throughout the rest of the workout, more preparation for the atmosphere that awaits the Huskies Saturday at USC. By one reporter’s estimate, it was played 108 times.
“That’s all?,” Sarkisian said later. “I tried to turn it up today, but something was wrong with our speakers. I think (UW director of player personnel) Jared (Blank) might not want to turn it up very loud. I think he’s tired of it. I’ve learned to love being miserable, and sometimes when you hear a song over and over it can make you miserable, and I kind of enjoy it now.”
USC has other “school songs,” but Sarkisian said he specifically picked that one because “they just have a tendency to play (it) a lot.”
As noted earlier in the week, it’s similar to when Sarkisian ordered the Notre Dame fight song played throughout an entire practice prior to heading to South Bend last year. UW put up an inspired effort there before losing in OT. Hey, whatever works.
As for the news of the day, there wasn’t as much as initally appeared.
Senior LB Victor Aiyewa was absent for most of practice, with Matt Houston running in his place with the first unit on the strong side. But Sarkisian said later Aiyewa suffered a dislocated finger and should be able to play Saturday.
“Not that it’s not serious…but it’s not serious,” he said. “He’ll be fine. He’s got nine other ones. He’ll be OK. I would be shocked if he couldn’t play.”
One player who won’t is running back Johri Fogerson, who has been out since the opener at BYU with a hip flexor.
He had returned to practice earlier in the week but on Wednesday was mostly out of pads and doing exercises on thee side.
“He just didn’t rebound very well, so he’ll be out Saturday,” Sarkisian said.
Otherwise, the Huskies appear healthy heading into the game, and no real changes to the starting lineup (other than the Cameron Elisara-Everrette Thompson switch detailed yesterday). That doesn’t mean, though, you might not see some different people in some different roles. Sean Parker continues to be on the field at lot at safety (and in the nickel), and Daniel Kanczugowski has gotten a lot of work with the starting unit at right tackle all week.
Sarkisian, though, said Kanczugowski is mostly getting prepared in case he’s needed.
“What happens a lot of times is, when all you do is go with the twos, go with the twos…you can kind of get stuck going with the twos,” Sarkisian said. “We’re always just trying to stay prepared, and so we’ve given him some looks with the ones just in case. He’s our third tackle now with (Erik) Kohler going inside, so we wanted to give him some reps with the ones, give him a full-speed look.”
Also, Nate Fellner appears to be getting most of the work at free safety with the starting unit after essentially splitting reps most of the season up to now with Will Shamburger.
“Nate’s playing well right now,” Sarkisian said. “By no means are we giving up on Will Shamburger. I just think that Nate is deserving of more playing time.”
On Kiffin’s comment that UW has an advantage because Sark knows USC’s players – “Ok, yeah. We know their players. Obviously I recruited the majority of them…Nick and I…we know them. But ultimately they have a game plan and they are putting their players in positions to do the things they do well or not in the position where they don’t do well. I don’t know how much of an advantage it really is.”
IN OTHER NEWS. …
— Justin Glenn also appears to be getting more work with the No. 2 unit at free safety finally appearing healthy after the broken leg suffered last year at Notre Dame. “Justin has done a nice job,” Sarkisian said. “He’s done a nice job on special teams. He’s earning his way up, definitely. He looks a lot healthier to me. His movement, his sudden-ness is better. I think his own belief in his leg is better, too. Sometimes when you have an injury of that magnitude you’re a little more hesitant as you’re coming back, but he’s showing the belief in his leg that it’s strong enough to handle it.”
— Freshman Taz Stevenson is again working solely as a safety after spending much of the past few weeks at tailback. “Yeah, we’re getting him back over there now,” Sarkisian said. “The good thing for Taz is that he has the ability to one, he’s on special teams. Two, if need be on offense he can come in and carry the ball. And then three, he can go play safety and go play the middle third and do those things. So he’s really valuable to us in that aspect.”
— Sarkisian also said he thinks the kickoff coverage is getting better. “We’ve spent a lot of time on it,” he said. “It feels good, but that’s one of those things where you really don’t know until the bullets are flying. But it feels like E (Erik Folk) is striking the ball a lot better and we’ve covering better.”
— UW will practice again on Thursday then fly to LA on Friday where they are expected to have a walkthrough at the Coliseum in the afternoon.
All for now.