The Washington Huskies are off the field following their last practice in Seattle before heading to Utah tomorrow for a Saturday game against the Utes.
When they come back they will have a bye week, with their next game on Oct. 15 against Colorado. And that means, said UW coach Steve Sarkisian, the Huskies should be prepared to go all-in against the Utes.
“We obviously understand that we have a bye coming up after this game, so there’s no reason to hold anything back,” he said. “We have to let loose and let it go, and there’s nothing to save anything for. We’ve got two weeks to get ready for the next one after that.”
“. … there is a mindset for our team that there is nothing to save anything for. We’ve got plenty of time to rest and to recoup and get right (after that). So we are going to put it all out there.”
The Huskies will take a mostly healthy team to Utah for their first game in Salt Lake City. Sarkisian said the only player who might have been expected to play who won’t be available is safety Taz Stevenson.
Defensive tackle Danny Shelton, who suffered a foot injury Wednesday practiced on Thursday and looked “a lot better than yesterday,” Sarkisian said. “He’s had something similar to the other foot, so I think he thinks he’ll be fine, and we think he’ll be fine.”
Running back Jesse Callier, Sarkisian said, also “looked a lot better today, and running again tomorrow at our walk-through will be good for him, and he’ll be ready to go.”
Linebacker John Timu was again in red and didn’t participate in any team activities. But with UW allowed to take 70 players, he will make the trip, though expect Jamaal Kearse to start at that spot.
Sarkisian also said DT Semisi Tokolahi may be able to help out some.
“He’s getting closer,” Sarkisian said. “It’s a frustrating time for him and for us. We knew it would be this way. We talked about this in training camp. I was hopeful we could get him for the second half of the season where he could really play and participate and I think it’s a really nice job by Nick (Holt) and Johnny Nansen to get him involved in practice and keep him going so that as we hit the home stretch of the season he can be an effective player for us on the defensive line.”
Thursday is a lighter practice in terms of physical activity, the team not in full pads. But
Sarkisian kept the intensity up giving the offense some stern words as the workout ended.
“Just to kind of send a little message to them,” he said. “It’s going to be a physical game Saturday, you know? Just want to reinforce that thought.”
Here’s some video of Sarkisian’s meeting with the media today, with some more notes afterward:
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IN OTHER NEWS. …
— The game is the first Pac-12 home contest for Utah, and as such there’s a lot of hoopla in Salt Lake City. Sarkisian, though, said the Huskies can’t be concerned about any of that. “We can’t be distracted,” he said. “We talked at length about this after the first road game – no distractions. This is about us; let’s control what we can control and lock in and focus on the task at hand – and that’s the ball game. And within the ball game, it’s the next snap – focus in on the next snap.”
— He also said fact that UW hasn’t played Utah since 1979 doesn’t really change the preparation any. “I don’t think so,” he said. “I think they are part of our conference, and this game matters as much as last week versus Cal, and as a much as anyone in our conference down the road. And our kids understand that.
— Asked if Utah may be the most balanced team UW has faced this season, he said: “I don’t know. Cal is obviously a pretty balanced football team in their style of play, and Utah is going to do the same things. They are going to run, they are going to play-action pass, they are going to spread us out. It’s not a secret about what they are going to do; it’s when they are going to do what they are going to do. And that’s the challenge of football.”
— He said the secondary has had a good week of practice and may be coming around: “I think so. From what we’ve seen in practice, their confidence is raised. You obviously saw that yesterday with them making some plays on the ball and getting interceptions. So I think we’re coming. I’m kind of excited to watch them play Saturday.”
— He expanded on what he’s seen out of the pass defense when asked if it’s just one problem here or there causing breakdowns: “Yeah, but with that you have to play together. It takes 11 guys together on every snap to play relentlessly and aggressively to be successful. I think the goal for us is to play that way down after down after down. It can’t just be first and second down, and then have a lapse on third down. We need to do it, 11 guys every snap, collectively, relentlessly.”
— Asked if he thought Utah might try to exploit UW’s pass defense, he said: “They are going to run their offense, you know. How and what they get to, you gotta ask Utah. But I don’t think all of a sudden we are going to see the run and shoot on Saturday. I’m sure we will get our fair share of passes and empty formations and those sort of things that we’ll have to deal with. But they are going to hand the ball off to John White, too. He’s a tremendous running back. So we have to deal with both.”
— Asked if the pending bye week changes the way the team is coached in any way, he said: “No, no we are going to have to rotate and play guys. It’s warm in Salt Lake, it will be warm Saturday so we are going to rotate guys, we are going to play them. It’s just every other ball game, but I think