The Huskies are off the field following their final Seattle practice of the season.
The team now is off until flying to San Antonio on Friday, many players heading home to celebrate Christmas early. The practice resembled a usual day-before walk-through (and was closed to the media) so not much of note to report.
UW coach Steve Sarkisian described the practice as “the epitome of the last day of school. Guys were all antsy, kind of a half day. They are excited to go see their families and friends, which they deserve to — with the football and school finals and all that. But it was a productive week of work. I know they are excited to get down to the game and to do all the activities, and also to prepare and ultimately play in the game on national television which is a great opportunity for us.”
The time off now means the team will be in San Antonio for Christmas. Sarkisian described the plan for that day: “We’ll practice in the morning on Christmas Day, then we’ve got a great event planned. We are actually going to a big ranch to celebrate as a team with the families. It’s a fun event. We do it together. We stay together. It should be a big-time event. I’ve never been to where we are going but I hear good things about it.”
He said his family will celebrate Christmas before leaving: “We have family Christmas here before we go. We don’t want to lug all those gifts down. Santa finds us wherever we go, which is a good thing on Christmas morning.”
But he said that for a college football coach, the best gift is being gone for the holidays.
“Oh yeah, without a doubt,” he said. “Our kids know that. That’s the one gift I always tell the team. The one gift I want for Christmas is just let me wake up in a hotel room and go practice. I get to do that this year, it’ happens to be in San Antonio so we’ll have a ball with it.”
Sarkisian said the bowl experience of last season has helped with the preparation so far.
“I think there is a comfort level of the schedule and the calendar and the build up to the ball game. They understand what we are doing, why we are doing it, what it takes to get mentally prepared, and physically and emotionally — and yet get to enjoy the experiences that we get to enjoy. So that comfort level is definitely there. I think the young kids, the freshmen, there is still definitely some uncertainty but just from an experience standpoint with our veteran players it is definitely much better than it was last year. I think they believe in the process that we do to get ready for the ball game, and so far, so good.”
The dominant storyline of the Alamo Bowl is Baylor’s high-flying offense, led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III. Sarkisian was asked today if his team might be motivated to show it has an offense that can match that of Baylor’s.
“Maybe just a little, maybe just a little,” he said. “We’re proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish offensively and I think this will probably be the most healthy we’ve been all year heading into this ball game. You think about the beginning of the year and you think you’re supposed to be healthy, but we have to remember – Chris (Polk) was coming off a knee surgery (two weeks) before that game. We should be in good shape when we get down there, and I think with the extended preparation time we should know our stuff really well offensively and go out and play fast and physical and play with good tempo.”
Other than guys already out for the season, Sarkisian said the one player whose health remains in question is safety Will Shamburger, who missed the Apple Cup with a stinger/nerve issue.
“He hasn’t been able to get back to where we would like him to get back to, especially against these guys,” he said. “We know they are going to throw the ball quite a bit and they are an up-tempo team, so the most depth you can get out there the better off you are. So that’s probably the biggest of the concerns.”
You can see all of Sarkisian’s session with the media today in the video below:
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