The week had its straining moments for Washington Huskies football coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff. At times, they were on edge.
Preparing for No. 3 Southern California can do that to a first-year coach, with a first-time-together-staff, taking on the boys Sarkisian taught in his first NCAA Division I job.
By Thursday, the mood was light. Sarkisian joked how his pedometer reading keeps dropping to under 20,000 steps a day – way down from the near 30,000 he was totaling during preseason camp.
"I'm trying to find a way how can I get back up into the (30,000 range)," he said. "Sitting around in the office watching film all day doesn't help.
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"What I need to do is start pacing, walking around the staff-room table as I'm watching film."
Then he bragged about the miniature basketball hoop set-up he and the coaches take jump shots on during breaks.
"It's kind of fun," Sarkisian said.
Make no mistake, USC has kept the coach up for long hours a day this week. He's only got a couple more days to ponder the sight of the Trojans, his mentor, Pete Carroll and the rest of the brouhaha that goes along with this high-profile, nationally-televised reunion.
He was asked how do you achieve a balance between doing too much work, and not enough for an opponent that knows you inside-and-out?
"You have to analyze yourself, analyze your kids and their demeanor – 'Are they getting stuck trying to think too much rather than playing fast football?'" Sarkisian said. "I think our kids are playing fast. I think they've got a good understanding of what we're doing. They're communicating really well on the field. So I feel good about where we're at."
Late-week practice tidbits:• Defensive end Darrion Jones (ankle, knee) suited up, but did very little except limp around from station to station. Sarkisian noted he wasn't sure if Jones would start, but what he did confirm was the likes to Talia Crichton (ran with No. 1 defense Thursday), Kalani Aldrich and Andru Pulu would be rotated in and out a ton.
"We're going to need them all, I think so," Sarkisian said. "(USC linemen) are a very physical front, and you need to stay fresh against them. We'll be rolling guys quite a bit."
• Safety Nate Williams (general soreness) and offensive guard Gregory Christine (ankle) had received some time off from practice this week. Sarkisian noted fatigued as a reason. Both took the majority of snaps Thursday, but found more time for rest.
"We tried to take it easy with Nate again today, to really get him sharp and healthy. He's got a big game ahead of him Saturday," Sarkisian said. "I think he's really locked in. The one thing Nate is, he's very bright, he's got a lot of football savvy. He can take a lot of mental reps as much as he needs physical ones."
• Going over the shoulder of a scout-team receiver, cornerback Quinton Richardson pulled his right arm back in a hurry, as if he hyper-extended it on a coverage play during practice Thursday. He didn't miss any action, but he was constantly fidgeting with it the rest of the session.
• Other off-the-field notes: Ex-UW quarterback Johnny DuRocher has been hired as a part-time employee by the athletic department, roughly for 20 hours per week.
DuRocher, who originally planned to play football at Central Washington before suffering a horrific torn-groin injury during preseason camp and left the team, will take more of a personal look at some of the UW players and coaches in a Webcast starting at the game Saturday.
Aberdeen's Mark Bruener (1991-94) is Husky Legend at USC game. He played 14 seasons in the NFL.
The UW fastpitch team will be honored all game long, starting pre-game in "The Zone." Pitcher Danielle Lawrie will be honored with her national player of the year awards at the end of the first quarter and the whole team will come on the field at halftime to be introduced.
The UW-Stanford game Sept. 26 in California will be televised by Fox Colleges Sports, extending the school's streak of 30 live televised games in a row.