SEATTLE – Now, the hard part starts.
Washington begins a gauntlet run Sept. 27 against Stanford, the first of four consecutive games against teams ranked in the Top 25, all of them conference foes.
Stanford is up to ninth in this week’s Associated Press poll following its 21-14 upset victory over USC on Saturday. Washington goes to No. 3 Oregon the following week, then faces 13th-ranked USC before traveling to 22nd-ranked Arizona.
Oregon State, thought to be a conference weakling at the start of the season, comes next. The Beavers are 1-0 (their opener was postponed and they had a bye last week) and just outside the Top 25, leading others receiving votes.
“Like we are heading into the second quarter,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said Monday. “The first quarter is done, a long TV timeout here, and then we get to head into conference play and get the three teams that have had the best records in our conference the last four years combined. So, I’m hopeful we get some of these guys back that haven’t been able to play for us.”
Washington played last week without two key offensive linemen, Erik Kohler and Colin Tanigawa, who were both out with knee injuries. It’s unclear if they will be back in time for Stanford because Washington no longer discloses injury information.
In their place was a work-in-progress offensive line. Freshmen Dexter Charles, who made his first start at left guard. Shane Brostek got extended playing time. Mike Criste filled in as the starter at right tackle. Sarkisian was satisfied with their play.
“I thought Dexter and Shane flashed. They do some really good stuff and other stuff they will get better at with experience,” Sarkisian said. “So, all in all, a good performance for those guys. Do we need to play better as we move forward? Sure we do.”
Stanford, which dominated the line of scrimmage in its 65-21 romp over the Huskies last season, has allowed an average of 1.7 yards per rushing attempt this season.
After learning Pacific-12 Conference commissioner Larry Scott was considering a uniform policy for reporting injuries, Sarkisian said he would prefer that.
“If we standardize the mechanism for updating injury reports and it puts everybody on the same, competitive playing field in that regard, then I’m all for it,” Sarkisian said. “And I’m hopeful that can happen sooner rather than later because I think it would be the best thing for our conference, for me, for (the media), for everybody involved in this, for our fans, to make that happen.’’
UW athletic director Scott Woodward spoke with Scott over the weekend.
“(I) applauded him about putting forth a great idea,” Woodward said.
The NFL uses an injury reporting policy that would be a likely model for the Pac-12. But, even it has holes. Coaches find ways to remain vague while meeting guidelines. If the Pac-12 put in place a policy and it wasn’t followed, it would have to determine penalties. Plus, part of the policy would have to explain conduct for non-conference games against opponents who are not under the same obligation.
Sarkisian said the team’s punting needs to improve, so kicker Travis Coons will compete with starting punter Korey Durkee, a Gig Harbor grad, this week in practice. Durkee is averaging 36.9 yards per punt. “We can’t live with 30-yard punts,” Sarkisian said. … Washington will practice today through Thursday and take Friday off. It will treat Saturday as the start of game week for Stanford.email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports/