The Huskies are off the field following another rainy practice — though we have take their word for it since UW decided this week to close its Wednesday and Thursday workouts to the media.
UW coach Steve Sarkisian says there’s nothing much to read into that decision, just a desire to practice in private.
“This is kind of the last regular-season game for the seniors, and I think there are some intimate moments there that I like to share with us and to be to us,” he said. “That’s not anything against us guys or anybody else, but it’s just a chance for us to be together, and we like to cherish those opportunities when we can.”
As for the team, the most significant news is that the offensive line has solidified. Senio Kelemete returned to practice after missing two days for personal reasons, and Sarkisian said Nick Wood will start alongside of him at left guard in place of Colin Tanigawa, who suffered an ACL injury at Oregon State (Sarkisian confirmed today that that is the official diagnosis).
“We’ll start Nick Wood at left guard, but we’ll be prepared to mix a couple of other guys around,” Sarkisian said. “Not because of guys not playing well, but some guys have earned opportunities. Micah (Hatchie) has done some good things at tackle when he’s been in – hasn’t been perfect, but I think he’s getting better and deserves some opportunity to jump in there as well.”
Wood played from the early second quarter on at OSU after Tanigawa was hurt.
“It was a natural fit for him at that position,” Sarkisian said. “And he went in the game and did an admirable job. Even the one holding penalty is a bit questionable. He did a nice job. I think he’s playing with quite a bit of confidence. He’s matured quite a bit from two years ago, when he started for us previously. So I feel good about what he can contribute to us.”
In other personnel news, Sarkisian said safety Justin Glenn (concussion) was back participating and should be able to go though Will Shamburger (stinger) remains more questionable. He also said LB Garret Gilliland is back and will be available.
And Sarkisian said again that the rest last week has definitely helped quarterback Keith Price.
“Oh yeah, he looks great,” Sarkisian said. “He really looks good – the bounce and spring in his step. It’s an easy thing to drop back and throw the ball when nobody’s around you; it’s your ability to make the sudden movements and move when a 3-technique is in your face or a defensive end is up the field rushing. And that was the biggest concern. He just couldn’t move great and do it for a long period of time. He’d fatigue out. For the last three days he’s looked really good moving in the pocket and out of the pocket – much more alive, to me, in his legs.”
The team will practice again Thursday morning and then be free for Thanksgiving around noon. Sarkisian said every player is assured of having somewhere to go — he said any who wanted could come to his house but that none did, joking he wasn’t sure they wanted to talk football with him all afternoon. The team will then return Friday afternoon for a walk-through at CenturyLink Field (which is not open to the public).
Kickoff is 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
You can see some of Sarkisian’s media session today below with a few more quotes after the jump:
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MORE QUOTES. ….
On the potential impact of rain for the game: “It can be, if you’re not prepared for it. That’s why, really, the last two weeks we’ve been out in it. Especially the last two days, the comfort level has kind of set in more. Our guys are used to it. They’ve kind of embraced it. It’s actually been kind of fun.”
On if it’s better to have elements to make practice harder: “Yeah. Sometimes they’re a little bit extreme, the last couple of days. But I do think there’s something to be said that if it does rain Saturday, we’ll be prepared for it. If it doesn’t, we’ll be prepared for that as well; that’s the easy part of it. It’s been a good experience getting out there, and I think our guys, again, have really embraced being out there in the elements.”
On if it feels like Apple Cup week out there: “Yeah, of course. That’s college football. I know people say, ‘oh, it’s just another game.’ And the reality of it, it isn’t. That’s a rivalry game, and that’s the pageantry of football. A lot of guys on our team grew up playing with guys on that team or against guys on that team growing up, or in high school or all-star games. So I think it carries a little added incentive. And then, obviously, the bragging rights of it all. But that’s what college football is all about. That’s why we do what we do – to enjoy these experiences.”
On Kelemete missing Monday-Tuesday practices: “Yeah, he’s back. He’s back today. Personal reasons and nothing that was health concerns to him. It was just personal reasons.”
On Hau’oli Jamora and Johri Fogerson being back for spring: “I hope. Obviously, a long shot for spring ball. But hopefully, by the time training camp rolls around. Those are some big losses, most notably Hau’oli. Not having him on our defensive front has been big this year, so it will be great to get him back.”
On when Tanigawa will have surgery: “We’re just waiting for the swelling to go down before we have the surgery. But we do want to have it sooner rather than later.”
On if Tanigawa being ready for the start of next season is in question: “Well, it can be. Again, it depends on his body. We’re looking at, really, the beginning of next year from training camp is nine months out. From the first regular season game is 10 months out. You’d like to think he could be back by then, but that’s the perfect rehab. So we’ll have to see.”
On Keith Price being back to where he was at the beginning of the season: “I think it’s a little hard to say. I have to see him actually full speed. This is as full speed as we can make it but when it’s the real deal and you have to scramble and get down, that’s when you can really gauge that. I do feel much better about where he’s at and again his ability to move is the most critical part to this that he’s just not a stationary target back there and it’s his strength and ability to do that that gives us that confidence.”
On how Nick Montana bounced back in practice this week: “I think he’s been good. Again, the speed of the game has helped him. He’s practicing even faster now and I think he’s a young guy but he’s a bright guy and he understands the things to learn from and to get better at.”
On what happens Thursday: “Everybody will have a place to go. We are going to practice in the morning and be on the field at 10 and be off no later than noon. And the guys will be free to go to wherever they want to go, and everybody’s got a place to go, which is a good thing, I don’t want anybody sitting in a dorm or an apartment by themselves, so they will have Thanksgiving and we won’t be back until Friday afternoon to crank it back up.”
On going Friday to CenturyLink: “That’s our normal Friday routine. If we were on the road we would go to that stadium to go to anyway so we are just doing it the way we customarily do it.”
On if Price could be 100 percent by the bowl game: “I would think that would be a little bit of a long shot to be 100 percent by a month’s time or whatever it is. I would expect with a really good off-season and rehab that the strength and everything will be back to normal to where we get Keith Price back as we know him from training camp. And that I think will take some time, that might take us all the way to spring ball to get to that point.”
On if he would need minor surgery after the season: “We don’t think so but we will do a post-season evaluation of him like we do with all of our players to assess any potential surgeries that need to take place and obviously we will have to look at him to see if there is anything there.”
On it being motivation to try to get into a better bowl game: “I don’t think so. I think more than anything we just want to finish strong. Obviously we were disappointed in the last few weeks of the season and how they have gone and our guys really want to finish well, they really love the opportunity to play Washington State in the Apple Cup, the first time to play at CenturyLink is exciting to them, and the seniors wants to close this out the way that they envisioned to close it out and that’s finishing the season strong at 7-5 and going to a really nice bowl game and walking off the field one last time with their buddies as a winner before the bowl game, so there is a lot of good motivation, but not where we are going. That’s out of our hands, quite honestly.”
On the free safety spot: “Justin (Glenn) was really back out there, looking good today. Will (Shamburger) was still pretty limited with the stinger issue, and we’re trying to limit the hits on him just to see how healthy we can get him by kickoff time.”
On how Garret Gilliland looked: “Good. Garret was back out there today, Jamaal Kearse was back out there looking good at the linebacker spot that we’re looked pretty good out there.”
On Alameda Ta’amu being in a boot with a sprained ankle on Thursday last week but playing at OSU: “And he quite honestly played pretty well. We’re still striving for more production out of Alameda, even though he’s playing well, to get more production. And I think in an odd way, Danny Shelton coming in and playing has helped that, because Danny has been a playmaker for us when he’s come on the field. He’s recovering fumbles, he’s causing fumbles, he’s getting sacks, he’s getting tackles – and in a good way that’s helped Alameda to see a young guy come in with a bunch of energy. They’ve helped each other; Alameda’s wisdom has helped Danny, but Danny’s energy I think has helped Alameda.”
On Ta’amu coming off the field on certain third downs against OSU: “We were trying to get more speed on the field. Obviously we were searching, at one point there, trying to create a pass rush, so that was a package we had to get more speed rushers on the field.”