The Huskies are off the field following their Thursday practice, as the work for the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas against Boise State Dec. 22 begins in earnest.
As UW coach Steve Sarkisian explained, today was like a “Monday” practice as the Huskies will go through a usual game-week preparation here the next four days before traveling to Vegas on Monday and then having another game-week preparation there.
No significant news, and the interview session with Sarkisian afterward largely focused on some bigger-picture questions about specific players. So I’ll pass along some of that in the video below, as well as a few quotes.
Also, al.com has a list of which conference is officiating the bowl games. As you can see, a Conference USA crew will do the Vegas Bowl.
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Here are a few transcribed quotes from Sarkisian:
On Desmond Trufant’s year: “I think it’s been awesome. Just an awesome year. I’m really proud of Desmond. Just because he was one of the original guys that I started to recruit when I got this job. The day I got this job the recruiting process started with Desmond and his parents. And he chose the University of Washington and probably got thrown into the fire a little earlier than he should have been, but he had some real learning experiences. And what I have appreciated about Desmond is he had some real learning experiences, and what I have appreciated about Desmond this year is he has taken to the new coaching from coach (Justin) Wilcox and coach (Keith) Heyward and his confidence has grown and grown and he has been a real leader on this team. He has matured so much from four years ago to this point and he has played All-American caliber football for us. I wish at the end of this season he had been entirely healthy, the last third of the season. But through it all he has been tremendous for us and he has helped some of our younger defensive backs in developing some of our younger defensive backs in developing their confidence and their discipline to do things right and trusting technique. So all in all, really, really proud of him.”
On the trickle down effect of having a corner who you can leave on an island: “It allows you to do some things that maybe are a little more creative with your coverage in rolling different things to the field and what-not to commit yourself to defending the run a bit more and adding people to the box. With Desmond, his ability to cover, one and his attention to detail, two, his ability to communicate with the safeties. And then his ability to tackle. He had tremendous year tackling, a better year tackling than he had his previous three years. So all in all when you have confidence in a guy out there playing that position, that instills confidence in the play-caller, in Justin, and the other guys on the field knowing Desmond is going to be in control over there.”
On his biggest area of improvement this year: “I think playing with confidence. Desmond has always been talented. But I think at times in his past he had gotten maybe a little bit anxious, I don’t know how much of the belief really was there and he practiced one way and maybe it didn’t always translate to the field. He’d play a little bit more cautious. But this year his belief in himself and his ability to cover and make plays on the football in one-on-one battles definitely showed up and he is a really competitive guy. You catch a ball on him and he’s so fired up that you caught a pass on him. But that’s his competitive nature and I love that about him.”
On Travis Coons overcoming the miss in the Apple Cup: “I think he’s been fine. That’s the life of a kicker. You are going to make some, you are going to miss some. He is going to get that opportunity again here in his career before his career is done and we have every faith in him that he is going to be able to go out there and make that kick. So I don’t necessarily over-coach those moments. That’s one of the plays within the game that happened and there were a lot of other plays in that game that were just as important as that kick that we didn’t execute well enough or call a good enough play that would have made it that it didn’t come down to that kick. So I try not to over-coach those things. But I do know he is going to get another one of those opportunities, and maybe on the 22nd and I have every confidence in the world that he is going to make it.”
On Coons and his year: “I’ve been proud of Travis throughout the year. His ability to do all three things, when you are punting and kicking off and kicking field goals, it’s taxing physically and mentally, and he’s had a good year for us.”
On John Timu’s season and leadership: “I think John has been great. He is a very mature young man for being a true sophomore. Granted he had the grayshirt year in there so he’s technically his third year out of high school. But he’s got a unique ability to blend with everybody on the team. Doesn’t matter where they are from or what their skin color is or what their race is. John T. has got a unique ability to lead everybody and that is a sign of a great leader. And his ability to communicate and he is extremely bright, not only on the football field but in the class room, so really happy for him and proud of him. He has improved so much from the first day we put him at linebacker to now.”
On where Timu can improve: “He’s only going to get better at this, too, is understanding the position and the pad level and angles and then ultimately making the tackles. We have seen that improvement grow, even from the beginning of this season. If you remember the first game against San Diego State, he misses two sacks in that ball game but then comes back and makes a big sack in the Stanford game on the very same play. So he works at his craft, he works at his trade and ultimately when you do that you improve if you are willing to do it and are willing to look at the nuances of the position and the game and Johnny does that.”