UW’s Thursday practice is over and coach Steve Sarkisian has met the media. I was not able to be there, but from the pool reports of those that were, sounds like no significant news.
Here’s what Sarkisian had to say when asked if there were any injury updates: “We’re getting a few guys back and a couple guys we’re not (laughs). At the end of the day we’ve been fortunate in that where some of the guys that are banged up we’ve had an opportunity to play a lot of guys, so that’s encouraging that we’re not exactly putting guys in there that have no experience. So we’ll be playing some guys that haven’t had a whole lot of action but have had enough to where we feel comfortable and they feel comfortable playing.”
Asked if those who were out would be short-term, he said: “I think so. I don’t…I’ll be able to talk more about some of that stuff at length after the ball game, but for the most part short-term.”
So not sure if this means Desmond Trufant doesn’t play — he was the most notable of those out — or some of the DLs, such as Pio Vatuvei and Josh Banks, who also left the Cal game. With UW’s new injury policy everyone just kind of has to wait and see. But since those were the guys hurt against Cal they’d be the most logical ones involved here.
Sarkisian also had this to say when asked about saying Utah has a lot of “goons up front” on Monday: “That was a term of endearment. (laughs). The physicality up front…you talk about Star (Lotouleli), you talk about the Kruger brothers, those guys are extremely physical players. And then, defensively they do some stuff that allows them to play mano-a-mano straight ahead, but they also mix in some stunts and some different fronts that are not as traditional as that. They key is to recognize the difference in the game for our guys up front to know when they are going to be playing the hard-charging, straight ahead and when they are going to be stunting, moving, things of that nature. Not only for the guys up front, but for us on the sidelines and the types of calls that we’re making based on the personnel that’s on the field.”
Asked about having Drew Schaefer to combat that at center, he said: “It’s going to be key for us, the communication factor. I think this group has really started to grow together. I’ve been encouraged by the communication and things…we had really just one poor lack of communication last week and it happened to be on the fourth-and-one, the first one – we didn’t block it exactly the way we would have liked to. But outside of that, you’re not seeing nearly the free rushers and things and guys in the backfield. We’re working well together, which is part of it – and the continuity is there. It helps. It builds confidence and relying on one another…the timing of the communication, that guys can recognize things and make the calls rather than waiting until the last second. So I think it all adds up…it’s the comfort level of Austin (Seferian-Jenkins) maturing at the tight end spot and him making calls from the outside as well. I think the maturation of Evan Hudson has helped that too – Evan’s ability to communicate – he’s a bright, bright guy. I think a lot plays into that, but at the end of the day we’re playing well together and that’s going to be key for us Saturday night, is to play well together up front.”
He also said practices have again been good this week, noting that the team went in half-pads on Wednesday: “I think they understand…for two weeks straight now those have been pretty physical games with Oregon State and Cal, and we know we’re anticipating another physical one with Utah – but I think the message is across to the guys – they understand it. We had a really good week of practice from that standpoint of being physical, having good pad level – all of those things. Even today. Today we were in helmets, but it was an extremely spirited practice. I thought the guys came out with a real purpose. I like the frame of mind they’re in understanding the physicality that’s going to be needed Saturday night. …
“It’s November…we’re into almost mid-November…we’ve got guys that have been playing, you go back to the beginning of August. This is a grind of a season, and I think again that the message has been understood now of what it’s going to take. It’s a part of maturing as a team. When you can recognize the maturity of a football team – not that it’s a reward – you want them to know that you recognize it and that’s part of the reason why we did what we did on Wednesday.”