Counting down the final hours of first-week preparation, if there were things University of Washington coach Steve Sarkisian wanted to tidy up – like a heavy dosage of special-teams drilling – he did just that Thursday.
And there were plenty of things that sure looked sharp in the final practice before No. 11 Louisiana State rolls into Seattle for the Saturday kickoff at Husky Stadium:
&bull A day after quarterback Jake Locker pressed, misfired and looked out of whack, the junior from Ferndale came back poised, relaxed and arguably had his best day since preseason started throwing the ball.
Not only did his passes have zip, they had touch and accuracy.
"He looked good. I think he's got a really good understanding," Sarkisian said. "A lot of times you go into a game plan, you can have a lot of plays, and a lot of things going. As you move to later in the week, especially on Thursday, you start to hone in on things that you're doing well that really fit the game plan, and I felt that's what we did today, and he performed that way."
Only once did Locker really force a throw – to James Johnson against a double team. The ball was intercepted by Desmond Trufant, a Wilson High product.
&bull Punter, kick. Punter, boom. Punter, power.
Starter Will Mahan put on a display Thursday – with high punts, with long punts. His most impressive showing was booming a 59-yard punt that hit right before the goal-line and laid down right there.
"A Tiger Woods' 5-iron or something," said the coach.
&bull Placekicker Erik Folk put in extra work with special teams coach Johnny Nansen. At the end of team competition, he nailed 4-of-4 field-goal attempts, the longest coming from 33 yards out.
"As we talked about, it's the battle of consistency," Sarkisian said.
Now comes the dead time.
On Friday, the Huskies will hold an walkthrough session at Husky Stadium (followed by LSU).
"Fine-tune, you know," said Sarkisian, when asked what the team would do Friday. "We've got a saying around here, 'Leave no stone unturned.' So we'll look for things, and details that maybe we don't have quite nailed at a spot here and there, and just go through the substitution routine and patterns, and get ready to go."
Afterward, the team will board a bus and head to the team hotel for the night.
With such a late kickoff Saturday, Sarkisian said the routine at the hotel for the players will be to "get them up, get them moving, give them rest, get them moving. Then we come to the stadium. It sets up for a pretty good format."
As for Sarkisian himself, sleep is a distant priority. In fact, his awareness antennae appeared pretty sharp at practice. While directing a bump-and-run receivers' drill, his eyes glanced up to a walkway on the third level.
Quickly, the coach barked out, "Who's on top?" to a university official, asking that the situation be checked out. It happened to be a concessions' worker (most of the concessions stands were open Friday to be dusted off and stocked) taking a break to watch practice.
&bull Sarkisian confirmed that linebacker Matt Houston (arm) will not play Saturday. Neither will offensive tackle Skyler Fancher (ankle) and safety Jason Wells (Achilles).
&bull Nice things happened on "Walk-on Wednesday." Five walk-ons were awarded scholarships for the rest of the seasons. They were offensive linemen Nick Scott and Gregory Christine, and linebackers Joshua Gage, Brandon Huppert and T.J. Poe.
"I'm proud of those guys," Sarkisian said. "They put in a lot of time and effort, just as our scholarship guys have."
&bull A day after receiving a waiver from the NCAA, true freshman Tim Tucker had his eligibility matter cleared up entirely. Tucker is a linebacker.
&bull Sophomore Alameda Ta'amu was back taking most of the repetitions with the first-string defense at one tackle spot Thursday, ahead of the emerging De'Shon Matthews. Both should see extended playing time against the Tigers.
&bull Sarkisian and strength and conditioning assistant Marques Tuiasosopo had a throw-off from the 45-yard line at the end of practice, to see who could hit the crossbar. Both former quarterbacks were successful.
"Can't leave the gym on a miss," the coach joked.
&bull Sarkisian said he will not be going on the road – locally or elsewhere – to recruit the start of the high school season tonight or Friday.