Huskies Insider Blog

Sarkisian: 'I've been a little bit on edge'

Steve Sarkisian and his football staff at the University of Washington put the hammer down Thursday.

It wasn't a practice for the faint at heart - lots of bickering, nit-picking and guessing some profane outbursts - and that is why the Huskies' third-year coach closed it to the public, the media and anybody else who wanted in.

A nail-biting, too-close-for-comfort 30-27 victory over Eastern Washington in the season opener has put the whole operation on alert - especially with a dangerous Hawaii team coming to town for a game Saturday.

"I've been a little on edge because I just don't (know how the team will respond)," Sarkisian said. "I know we are better than the way we played last week, and it starts with me and it's got to go through everybody in the program. We need to get right and we need to get right as fast as we can."

As previously noted, the week has been terse all the way around. Players (except for Austin Seferian-Jenkins) declined interviews Wednesday - usually construed as a team-bonding move - and put forth a crisp and earnest effort Thursday, Sarkisian said.

"This Thursday practice, I wanted it to be a hard one. I wanted it to be hard-nosed," Sarkisian said. "Sometimes our Thursday practices have a tendency to be a little bit light - not light in the sense of we're not going hard, but just light-hearted. And I wanted to make sure it wasn't that. I didn't need people out there with our guys. I wanted us really locked in and sharp and hard, and it was."

Other stuff:

* Asked about the production Saturday of the team's pair of highest-profile true freshmen - tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and receiver Kasen Williams - and Sarkisian noted their combined three receptions were not earth-shattering.

"I thought they functioned. They weren’t perfect, but they functioned," Sarkisian said. "For a first college game, new atmosphere, coming out of the tunnel and all that, I thought they functioned fine. They’ll get better, though. They’re better than that, I know that. That’s for sure."

* Last year, the UW started with a 23-17 loss at Brigham Young - its second defeat in a season opener under Sarkisian.

So what has been the difference in approach after early losses and a win like Saturday?

"The differences are where are my areas of concern were about our ball club," Sarkisian said.

"Last year after BYU, I was worried about catching a kickoff after we had fumbled around three of them, and not running into the punter and all those things that kind of happened on special teams last year.

"This year, that wasn't the case. We still focused on special teams, but there were some things offensively and defensively we definitely had to focus on - so different in the sense of actual schemes, but not so much the approach of mentally of, 'You're opening the season, you have high hopes, you come in and you don't perform to the best of your abilities.' We've got to fix that. That's the mentality - so now it's like, 'What do we need to fix?' And I think we've addressed it."

* Quick-hit notes: Cornerback Quinton Richardson (ankle), linebackers Cort Dennison (thigh) and Garret Gilliland (head) and receiver Jermaine Kearse (ankle) have been full participants all week, and should play. The only question mark is safety James Sample (shoulder), who injured himself on Eastern’s final drive. … Sarkisian said the Huskies will play cornerbacks Desmond Trufant, Gregory Ducre and Richardson together quite a bit against Hawaii’s high-octane passing attack.

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