After practicing Saturday-Monday, the Huskies are off the next three days, with coaches again on the road recruiting. UW will return to practice Friday, when the team will begin working on Boise State while also still continuing to work extensively with younger players. The real game-week-type practices will begin the following week, with UW expected to leave for Las Vegas Dec. 17.
In fact, with the game on a Saturday — and there may be some irony there that they only traditional Saturday-12:30 p.m. game UW will have had all year is in its bowl game — the Huskies will be able to have a normal Monday-Saturday gameweek heading into the practice.
“As we move into next week, we’re gonna have another three practices that’ll be more split in half, where we’re gonna focus on our vets for about half of it, and focus on our younger players for about half of it,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said yesterday. “But these ones, these first three, were really dedicated to our young players and I liked the way they competed.”
Asked for some quick impressions of who stood out, he said: “Last couple days have been good and today was a nice, hard fought one. I thought Psalm Wooching had a nice couple scrimmages here, obviously capped it off with a nice touchdown run there. I thought the two redshirt freshmen quarterbacks did some stuff, in (Jeff) Lindquist and (Cyler) Miles.”
One thing the earlier bowl game will do for UW is give the Huskies a longer break once it is over. With the game on Dec. 22, and recruiting then in a dead period through Jan. 3 (the dead period begins Dec. 17), UW players and coaches will have a lot of time off afterward, another aspect of the Vegas Bowl that sets up well.
“We’re a young team and this has been kind of a long season,” Sarkisian said. “We never really had a natural bye in this season. We had a couple of long weeks here and there because of Thursday games, so what it does for us, playing the 22nd, is after that game our guys are going to have a full two weeks to go home, be with their families, and relax. I think the players need it; I think the coaches will need it at that point, with the dead periods in recruiting and whatnot. And then come back, school starting in winter, Jan. 7. So, it gets our guys a really good two weeks after. It’s been a really good grind for them, and so I think the dates shape up well.”
While much about the bowl game sets up well for UW, though, the Huskies actually fell into what on paper is the toughest game for any conference team.
As I noted in my story for today’s paper, UW is one of just two of the eight conference teams to make it to bowls to play a ranked team (Oregon against Kansas State in the Fiesta is the other).
UW is also the biggest underdog of the eight Pac-12 teams in bowls, though the line has gone down from its opening 7.5 to as little as five at some places.
IN OTHER NEWS. …
— SportsBusinessDaily has its annual look at the bowl gifts players get. As you can read, UW’s players will get to pick a gift of up to $550, an option that seems to be increasing with each season.
— The Idaho Statesman looks at the late-season improvement of Boise State QB Joe Southwick (including his increasing ability and willingness to run, the kind of thing that caused the Huskies trouble this year) and also has the note that Boise State will be the home team for the Las Vegas Bowl.
— CougFan.com says the investigation into the Austin Seferian-Jenkins post-game Apple Cup incident has been dropped unless someone comes forward with more information. As reported on here yesterday, Seferian-Jenkins said he asked UW not to pursue it.
— The UW Daily says the football team’s win over Stanford was the school’s top sports moment of the year.
— USA Today gives Washington a B-minus for this season.
— ESPN,com’s Ted Miller wonders if the Pac-12 can go 8-0 in bowl games.
— The San Francisco Chronicle says Cal’s dream candidate might be Boise State’s Chris Petersen.
— Looks like Butch Jones will decide soon whether to become the new coach at Colorado.
— Would Auburn or Tennessee consider Rich Rodriguez?
— Here is today’s Pac-12 Rundown from The Oregonian.
— A few more Pac-12 links from Christian Caple in Spokane.
— The Heisman Pundit says Johnny Manziel will win it.
— Here’s a story on UW commit Troy Williams and Narbonne preparing for a state playoff game. It also reveals that Williams is playing through a recently separated shoulder.
— Williams (at 91) and receiver Demorea Stringfellow (62) are the UW commits on the latest Rivals.com list of the top 100 recruits for the Class of 2013.