Huskies Insider Blog

Winning the cure, the Huskies will someday find it

A couple of week ago, Steve Sarkisian was bogged down by a bug. Could have been the flu (heck his team had been passing it along from player to player).

This week, it's a fever - for winning.

For a man so used to winning at Southern California - where losing was plain-and-simple unacceptable - the constant one-good-game, followed-by-a-bad-game trend has really gotten to the second-year UW coach.

"I’ve been sick. It makes me sick. I can’t stand losing," Sarkisian said after practice Thursday. "But we go back to work. I’ve been proud of our guys – they fought back. They’ve continued to fight back, and we’ll fight back again Saturday.

"There will come a day when we’ll win week-in and week-out, but until then, we’ve got to continue to work at it."

Make no mistake, coming off a bad loss at Arizona and sitting at 3-4 for the season, the tension has been felt all week, by all parties - the players and coaches especially. Sarkisian has seemed restless. Impatient. Ready to implode.

But on Thursday, when practice was moved inside to the Dempsey Center, it was 90 minutes of crisp work. Sarkisian bounced around, tossing football behind-his-back to players stretching, to see if they were paying attention.

Quarterback Jake Locker looked as healthy as he's been during the Pacific-10 Conference slate, taking all the snaps with the No. 1 offense. He moved around effortlessly. His passes had zip and accuracy. Receivers were snatching them out of the air.

"I thought our tempo was excellent today," Sarkisian said. "We (the offense) generally finish a little bit behind the defense on a Thursday because of the number of plays we ran. Today, we finished before them – it was a really good tempo by the offense."

Now it's wait and see. The Huskies have had good weeks of practice before - as late as last week, too - and fallen flat on game days. And Saturday won't be the day to do that with 13th-rankeed Stanford coming into Husky Stadium.

"It’s going to take a real effort from our guys – not only from an effort physical perspective, but also an execution perspective," Sarkisian said.

Quick-hit notes:

* About Locker, the UW coach said it was his best week of practice in a month. “His movement is much better than it’s been in the last few weeks,” Sarkisian said. “I expect him to go out and play a really passionate football game.”

* Defensive end Cameron Elisara (shoulder) is the only player officially ruled out for Saturday against Stanford, but safety Will Shamburger (concussion), tailback Johri Fogerson (upper leg) and tight end Chris Izbicki (sprained foot) did not practice Thursday.

* Receiver Devin Aguilar (hip) made two tremendous high catches, and is fully healthy. He’ll likely start Saturday, which will be a welcomed sight.

"That’s a good sign. That’s a really good sign," Sarkisian said. "I think we’ve missed him. He provides a real spark to our offense – a real playmaker. It’s good to have him back."

* With the weather forecast looming as dark and rainy - something similar to that of the Arizona State game a few weeks back - Sarkisian was asked (by me) if something could be learned from playing a game in such heavy rain.

And often when the coach is put off, or doesn't want to put any thought into an answer, he instead gives a smarty-pants retort.

Like this one.

"We’re going to run our plays. Our guys are used to it," Sarkisian said. "Our quarterback grew up in Ferndale. We’ll be OK."

But my follow-up - does it actually rain in Ferndale, coach (especially considering you're from California)?

"Every once in a while, it rains in Ferndale," he said, laughing.

Never underestimate a light-hearted moment.

* The ‘Versus’ television crew was on hand for the indoor practice. One of the analysts in former Seahawks quarterback Kelly Stouffer.

It will mark the first time 'Versus' has televised a Huskies' home game since 2008 (Oregon State).