Embracing the dark times.
No, we're not talking about the UW's bad periods - the 0-12 season of 2008, in particular. We're talking about the Huskies' plans for "Blackout" on Thursday in hosting UCLA in a nationally-televised home finale.
Details have been scarce about what exactly the plans are. But at the UW's weekly press conference Monday in the Founders Club, middle linebacker Cort Dennison confirmed the team will wear all-black garments - jerseys and pants.
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"I think it's a great thing for our program. A lot of the players have always talked about changing something up with the uniforms," Dennison said.
"Last year we kind of did that with the white-on-white and stuff and the white pants, so I think it's a great thing for our program. It shows we will reach out of the box and are up for something new and it's going to be great."
UW coach Steve Sarkisian said Nike presented the athletic department a couple of versions of the alternative uniforms before they were approved.
"It took a couple tries to get to something we thought still looked classy, and still represented the University of Wazshington extremely well and something we’d look good in," Sarkisian said.
The team won't be the only one decked out in all-black. The UW student section will take part in the theme, too.
"We've handed out some T-shirts to our student body," Sarkisian said.
So, why this ... now?
"I think we’re just trying to do something special for our student body, to keep them involved and excited in coming to watch us play," Sarkisian said.
"We appreciate their support, no doubt, and they have a big factor in our game. And to do something unique for our fans, to get them excited. And also, on our front, I think our kids are excited about it. It adds a unique feel to the game, a night game, Thursday night, and that’s something that hasn’t been done here in 80 years now, maybe even 90 years. Just trying to do something fresh and fun to keep everybody excited about what we’re doing."
Sarkisian said the school's traditional purple-and-gold colors will still be part of the night (guessing helmets will still be gold, which he confirmed on his radio show Monday afternoon), but added he's noticed that the university has incorporated more black into its theme-related activities campus-wide.
"In a sense, (it happened) prior to when I even got here," Sarkisian said. "It’s got a nice feel to it with the colors that we have, and it comes across looking sharp."
And as Dennison noted: "When you feel good and look good on the field you might play better. So we'll see what happens.''
* No new developments on Jake Locker's status for the UCLA game - except that the decision will likely come down late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
"I think (the doctors) have been encouraged, honestly," Sarkisian said. "He's responded well; I think they've been encouraged that way. I don't want to make that statement of what they might make up, but I think they've been encouraged by the way he has felt after days of work - pretty extensive work."
If Locker does receive clearance to play, Sarkisian said he'll likely wear some sort of protective gear around the rib cage.
* Based on a midseason emergence, and the way they performed during bye-week practices, Sarkisian expects receiver Kevin Smith and safety Taz Stevenson to see more playing time over the final three games.
"(Stevenson) played extremely well versus Oregon, over 20 reps on defense, and in turn he stepped his game up even more – not only on defense but on special teams," Sarkisian said. "Kevin Smith is another guy who’s really risen up the depth chart. He’s a guy that has been very impressive. Those two guys have jumped out at me right off the bat. Those two have earned their playing time."
If true freshman Sean Parker (shoulder) misses any time because of a stinger, suffered in practice, Sarkisian said Stevenson would move into the starting nickel back role as the third safety.
** MONDAY NIGHT PRACTICE: It was a blustery one - so severe, in fact, the gusts reached an estimated 50 mph. They were strong enough to rip the roof off one of the golf carts (it had to be tied down by rope), and blow sideline benches and garbage cans on the turf of Husky Stadium.
In the elements, UW coach Steve Sarkisian thought quarterbacks Jake Locker and Keith Price performed well.
"I'll tell you what, I thought all in all, he and Keith and the receivers, for 35-mile-an-hour winds, that was a pretty impressive performance," Sarkisian said. "They did a nice job. The forecast doesn't look like this is what it will be like from a wind standpoint Thursday, but it showed me a lot.''
Of course, one gust was enough to blow everything onto the field at the same time.
"I just wanted to make sure Jordan Polk wasn't flying with them," Sarkisian joked.
Locker and Price split most of the snaps - again - during scout-team and team-session periods.