This was filed by Don Ruiz, who filled in for me Tuesday at practice:
The timing was suspicious, although all parties indicated it was just the right time for Washington Huskies defensive tackle Cameron Elisara to get healthy from a nagging neck stinger.
Elisara, the junior from Spokane, practiced for a second consecutive day, after sitting out almost six weeks – missing 31/2 games – with a stinger so severe, when it hit, he'd lose all strength in his shoulder and arm areas.
But coming back Apple Cup week?
“This is a good week to be back,” Elisara said. “… It does have, of course, a special meaning. I’ve got a lot of family ties, a lot of friends that go to Wazzu. This is a game for a lot of bragging rights.”
Elisara’s father, Matt, was an all-conference lineman as a Washington State senior in 1981.
And Cameron Elisara remembers regularly driving with his family from their home in Spokane to attend WSU games.
“I grew up in Cougar country, I grew up as a Cougar fan,” he said.“I was a Cougar until I started thinking about places where I was going to go play.”
Elisara said WSU didn’t recruit him very hard, and said the disinterest might have been mutual. He said he’s happy that he became a Husky, and he’s eager to help his teammates reclaim the bragging rights they have lived without for back-to-back seasons.
“It was pretty rough: Going back to Spokane, hearing it from all my friends who go to Wazzu,” Elisara said. “Just the loss itself is the troubling part. We never like any of those, especially against a big-time rival.”
UW coach Steve Sarkisian said he's hoping to have the big man back in the interior of the defensive line Saturday, but added Elisara still hasn't been cleared by doctors for game action.
• Sarkisian said UW recruiting coordinator Johnny Nansen would get a great deal of "razzing" this week being a former WSU linebacker.
Nansen said friends have not contacted him this week at all.
“None of them have called me for tickets or anything,” he said. “They understand this is all business for me right now.”
• Sarkisian wasn't too thrilled about Kavario Middleton's boast of scoring 50 points against on Saturday.
"The comment shows the fact we're still a very young football team," Sarkisian said.
Teammate Desmond Trufant stuck up for Middleton – his Tacoma-area bud – on Tuesday.
“He’s just being confident,” Trufant said. “Everybody wants to win because everybody still has that feeling from the loss last year. He’s just being a confident player. We’re just going to try to win this game.”
• Huskies running back Chris Polk (right shoulder) ran his second consecutive day of practice with the no-contact red jersey on.
• Linebacker E.J. Savannah (broken left wrist) was still not practicing with the team. His status should be cleared up by Wednesday.
From WSU correspondent Howie Stalwick, who is in Pullman:
• Senior quarterback Kevin Lopina took the vast majority of the snaps with the No. 1 offense. Earlier in the day, coach Paul Wulff said Lopina “definitely” will start at Washington. Wulff said he hasn’t ruled out playing regular starting quarterback Jeff Tuel, but the Cougars don’t want to take undue risks with the injured knee of a possible “franchise” quarterback. Tuel is a true freshman. “There’s an outside chance Jeff Tuel could play, but it’s a very remote chance,” Wulff said.
• Starting safety Chima Nwachukwu, who has missed three games with a sprained ankle, practiced with the No. 1 defense for the second straight day. Nwachukwu led the Cougars in tackles before he was hurt.
• Starting cornerback Brandon Jones, who suffered a back injury early in last Saturday’s loss to Oregon State, again sat out practice. With just three cornerbacks available (besides freshmen who are redshirting), the Cougars moved senior walk-on Colin Huemmer one day after he was shifted from wide receiver to safety. Huemmer was a receiver and safety at Redmond High School.
• The Cougars also are extremely shorthanded on the defensive line. Tackle Bernard Wolfgramm (back) and end Jesse Feagin (broken hand) went through limited drills Tuesday.
• Colorful linebacker Andy Mattingly, asked to comment on Washington tight end Kavario Middleton’s claim that the Huskies “plan on scoring at least 50” points Saturday, managed to keep a straight face momentarily when he said, “I didn’t even hear about it.” Mattingly then cracked up and said, “I prepared to much for that question. I wanted to say something.”