The Huskies took to the Dempsey Indoor this morning for about a 90-minute full-pads practice, their first since learning officially they would play Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl Dec. 22.
UW coach Steve Sarkisian talked to the media for a while afterward and said as might be expected, that he and the team are pleased with getting the bowl invite against the Broncos.
“We’re really excited,” he said. “Obviously we had a great late-season surge to win the four consecutive games. You never know when you lose the last one and the kind of taste it can leave in people’s mouths of who is choosing and when and where and how. So we were hopeful all along we could get into that game and we are fortunate that we did. it’s a great bowl game and a tremendous matchup with Boise State.”
Sarkisian was asked about the fact that UW got the highest-ranked opponent of any of the Pac-12 teams outside of those playing in BCS bowls and if that’s an opportunity for UW to again prove itself to the nation.
“It’s a pretty good one,” he said. “Boise has done it for such an extended period of time, they have been doing this for year after year after year. So for our guys it’s just another opportunity to go play a great football team that is really well-coached on a national stage. That’s why these guys chose to come to the University of Washington to play in these types of games. It’s a really good matchup for both teams and it sets the stage for a really intriguing off-season for nine months before the rematch here at Husky Stadium. So I think it’s pretty cool.”
Sarkisian also said the bowl game is a good chance for UW to get back on the right track as a program after the disappointing Apple Cup loss.
“I think we still believe we are a good football team,” he said. “We didn’t play a great game. We especially didn’t play a good fourth quarter when you blow an 18-point lead.. But we believe we are a good football team. It would be awesome for our seniors to continue the path they have been on with this program since the day they have gotten here to continually improve and so that eighth win is a big one for us and it’s something that I think we all want deeply and to do that we have to defeat a very good Boise State team and it is going to be a great challenge.”
There was also a little bit of personnel news as Sarkisian said two freshmen who have redshirted this season have changed positions — Brandon Beaver from cornerback to safety and Dwayne Washington from receiver to running back.
Of the move of Washington, a graduate of Gahr High in Cerritos, Calif., Sarkisian said: “I think it fits him, his stature. He’s a big, thick kid. He’s a physical runner. When you looked at him in high school at the tape, a lot of his best plays came when he just had the ball in his hands, not so much running down the field but when he had the ball in his hands on the short, intermediate stuff, running through tackles. So we are hopeful we get a 225-pound, physical tailback out of this thing and it’s been a nice transition for him. It’s been great we’ve been able to redshirt him and these practices have just been really, really good for him in getting these carries and then obviously spring ball is going to be huge for him.”
Of Beaver’s move, Sarkisian said: “We are trying to look at the safety spot, we have talked about our ability to defend the spread teams and one of the keys to that is your safeties and their ability to cover a wide receiver in the slot. So when you can get a corner like Beaver who can potentially play safety and is physical enough to tackle (he’s listed at 6-foot, 181) and has the football I.Q. to play the zone coverage stuff but then the physical ability to cover slot receivers one-on-one is something we are trying to move more towards. So this is going to be the project with Brandon throughout these bowl practices and then reassess it when we get to spring ball.”
Here’s video of all Sarkisian had to say after practice today:
[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”2008287905001″][/do]