The Huskies are off the field after their Thursday practice, a workout that in a lot of respects is basically the last one of the year.
UW worked out for about 90 minutes or so at Bishop Gorman High, and now has only a closed walk-through tomorrow before the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas Saturday against Boise State.
The good news is that UW has made it through the run-up to the bowl game in good health.
Last year, if you recall, receiver Kevin Smith suffered a knee injury while the team was in San Antonio.
But the Huskies have suffered no similar serious injuries this year. UW coach Steve Sarkisian said every player, other than those already out for the year, should be ready to go other than backup linebacker Jamaal Kearse, who is used primarily on special teams. Kearse has been battling a lingering leg injury and Sarkisian said he won’t be able to play. (And it may also bear repeating that Nate Fellner, while still on the roster, is not with the team due to personal issues and won’t play).
However, Sarkisian said one player who will return is linebacker Princeton Fuiamaono, who missed the last three games due to injury.
Sarkisian also gave a clean bill of health for CB Desmond Trufant (hamstring) and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle) who each battled lingering injuries the second half of the season.
“I think they look good,” Sarkisian said. “If they are not 100 percent they are about as close as you can get to be without being that so I think the time was good for them and the couple of weeks of rest when we were focusing on our young guys was good for them to get healthy and then they practiced really well, so I expect them to play well.’’
Sarkisian said he was pleased by all the work the team has done here.
“I thought it was great,” he said. “I was talking to the staff about it yesterday but our Wednesday practice is typically the most difficult of the game week and you think about these guys started work in early August in double days and padded practices and gauntlets and all the stuff we did, and yesterday’s practice was probably one of the top three or four spirited practices we have had all season long. So really proud of the guys. I think they are excited to play in the game and they brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm yesterday. Obviously focused on the details of the plan today. But even at the end they are excited. Looking forward to watching them play.’’
Thursday’s practice ended with a last-practice-of-the-season tradition with the seniors walking off the field through a tunnel of the underclassmen (no surprises in the group that walked).
The team will attend a performance of the Blue Man Group tonight. Last night, the team participated in a welcoming ceremony on Fremont Street (there’s some video of that below). Danny Shelton won the dance contest with a rendition of Gagnam Style, while Josh Banks won the pie eating contest (good thing media weren’t allowed in either of those).
Also, in case you missed it earlier, JC DT Lavon Hooks, who visited UW last weekend, has signed instead with Ole Miss.
Here are a few other quotes from Sarkisian’s session with the media today:
On what he has seen from Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick: “He’s a guy that I think has really improved as the year has gone on for them. He does a nice job of managing their offense, and it’s a relatively complicated one with the personnel groupings, the shifts, the motions, the formations. I think he understands their system really well and has improved as the season has gone on.’’
On Southwick running more as the year went on: “He’s making the decision to run a bit more than he has. And sometimes that just comes with being comfortable playing and when to throw the ball away and when to run it and when to buy time and make the throw down the field. So I think it’s just being more comfortable playing the position.’’
On Boise State running back D.J. Harper and if he is reminiscent of anyone in the Pac-12: “Reminds me a bit of the kid from Cal, C.J. Anderson, who was a good back. Physical guys, they run in between the tackles very well. They find their way to get the extra yards at the end of runs, so a good football player.’’
On Boise State’s offensive line being a real veteran group: “I think they do what they do. They are going to run the football, they are going to run the power play. They are going to use a lot of deception to run the runs they like to run. But at the end of the day, the core of what they do is up front with their five offensive linemen. I think they play with good pad level and that allows them to run the scheme that they do.’’
On how Boise State causes so many turnovers (caused 33 while losing just 15): “I think they are disciplined. They are a lot like our guys in that they have really good athleticism, especially in the back end. The two defensive ends are two good football players for them that can create some havoc. But they are disciplined and they understand their assignments and then when opportunities presented itself they have taken advantage of it. So I think that will be one of the keys to the game. These are two of the best defenses in the country at turning the football over (on defense). So who can continue to do that and which team can be the team that can take care of the ball will be a big factor in the ball game.’’
On UW being healthy: “I think the guys that we basically could get back to play are playing. The one that is not available to us is Jamaal Kearse from a special teams standpoint, but outside of that everybody is ready to go. It’s just been lingering with him for the last month.’’