By this time next week, it will be game week. And by this time the week after that, the season will have begun and either a crucial win or a loss will be in the books.
And that was part of coach Steve Sarkisian's message to his troops as the week began.
"When we met last night I had to show the guys on the calendar, two weeks from tonight we’re going to be back home, we’re going to be in the office working, you guys are going to be back in your apartments and we’re either going to be 1-0 or 0-1, and that sucker is coming quick in two weeks," he said. "We just wanted to make sure it is on the horizon, but we still have some things we need to get done before we start focusing on that game."
So, what's on the agenda for the week that began at a sun-splashed Husky Stadium this afternoon?
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"For me I’m still stressing pad level," he said. "I think we need to get lower, we need to play lower, we need to get more violent with out hands at the line of scrimmage. It’s been something that we assessed with the team and will work towards with the team this week. We’re really trying to just hammer home all of the special situations in the kicking game, just all of the different scenarios that can come up so that we’re comfortable when those things come about. And then the third part of it is starting to peek at BYU to make sure that the things that are already in that game plan, if they’re not already installed yet are installed for our guys so it’s not new to them when we get that game plan in."
Before it fades to far back into the rear-view mirror, we also asked the coach how the Saturday scrimmage looked after reviewing it on film.
"I was really maybe a little too hard on the offense after the scrimmage," he said. "I thought the defense played well. The offense did some good things, but you can’t shoot yourself in the foot. That’s something that we’ve had to address and we’ve continued to address. You can’t line up illegally, or illegal procedure, hands to the face and holdings and expect to be an effective offensive football team. When you put yourself in first and longs and second and longs, it’s hard to execute for an extended period of time. But I thought that there was some good things there. I was really impressed with our running game. We ran the football extremely well."
One starter sitting out practice today was middle linebacker Cort Dennison.
"Just a little sprained knee -- nothing serious," Sarkisian explained. 'He was probably due a day off anyway. It felt like he was playing ever snap in there for the defense, so it was probably good for him to get a rest and it was probably good for our other mikes to have to play."
And the prognosis for the Tuesday two-a-days?
"Realistically, he probably could have went today if he had had to," Sarkisian said. "We could hold him out in the morning, but we’ll see how it looks."
Similarly, offensive tackle Senio Kelemete was kept out of work, but could have played if needed.
However, the coach seemed more concerned about receiver James Johnson (ankle), who continues to gingerly jog stadium steps while his teammates practice.
Finally, we also got a little time with quarterback Jake Locker, also looking ahead to the opener in Utah.
"It’s exciting," he said. "We’re less than two weeks away now. It is an opportunity. We’ve all been waiting since we got done last year. To have the opportunity to go out and play again on Saturdays for real is really exciting."
On what's left to do:"For us, as a football team, our focus is going to be the same as it always is. We can’t control wins and losses, but we can control the effort that we put out there, the attention to detail and execution we put out there and how we play as a team. If we go out and focus on that against BYU, we’ll put ourselves in position to win the football game. Then it comes down to a few plays here and there and being able to really focus in, and it’s tough. If we’re able to do that throughout the course of the season, and especially early on, we’ll put ourselves in a good situation and be in a good place as a team."On being able to bring UW back to prominence:
"It was a goal of mine when I first came here and something I was hoping to be a part of. To have the opportunity be able to do that now, and to possibly go out that way, is something that’s pretty exciting."On if the excitement around program similar to what it was when you were growing up watching UW?
A little bit, yeah. I think there’s a lot of excitement around this program right now, maybe even more than there had been at that point. If we go out and control what we can, and play hard and enjoy the game, I think we’ll put ourselves in a good position to have success.On this year compared to last year:
I think we’re a little farther ahead this year, just as far as having knowledge of the offense. We’ve been able to take things to the next level and make the difficult looks still become successful plays. We have everybody on the same page and just play a little bit faster. As a whole, that’s what the camp’s been for us, and it continues to get better and better.On what needs to be cleaned up before BYU:
I think procedural stuff, just making sure we’re lining up, getting on the ball, keeping our tempo up, getting in and out of the huddle and getting as many snaps as we can.