Huskies Insider Blog

Sark on post-Oregon practices: 'Back to the typical work week'

So maybe last week's wide-ranging pageantry wasn't so good for a University of Washington football team preparing for a big Pacific-12 Conference game.

As mature and level-headed as UW coach Steve Sarkisian wants his players to be in this third season, the coach acknowledged Thursday that the hoopla surrounding the closing of Husky Stadium, and the game-long celebration of the 1991 national-championship team might have provided enough of a distraction.

Oregon blitzed the Huskies on Saturday night, 34-17.

"It's hard to say. None of them will say that it did, I know that. They will all say, 'No it didn't, no it didn't,'" Sarkisian said. "But how it could have affected anybody individually, you never know."

What Sarkisian was trying to relay fully was that this week of practice heading into the game at Southern California, even amid the slow disassembling of the home stadium and the team's subsequent move to the east field, was closer to normal.

"It feels right," Sarkisian conceded. "We'll see.

"There was so much build-up last week and so much going on around us - we tried to handle it as best we could. This is more about playing the game, and going down there and playing the game in a venue we have been in before, that we have won in before, against a very good football team."

Other stuff:

* A day after declaring there would be more offensive-line personnel shake-up at practice, the only real noticeable difference were the usual first-team snaps that redshirt freshman Micah Hatchie got at right tackle in place of Erik Kohler.

At the end of practice, the offensive line appeared status quo - with Senio Kelemete at left tackle, Colin Tanigawa at left guard, Drew Schaefer at center, Colin Porter at right guard and Kohler at right tackle.

"There was enough (shuffling) to matter," Sarkisian said.

* Receiver James Johnson (ankle) participated in individual drills and team period work - a day after doing very little.

His availability will certainly come down to game time.

"James did some stuff today. I think he'll feel better by Saturday, better than what he was. He will still be limited, in a sense," Sarkisian said. "But he was able to do some things today, which is encouraging."

* Complimenting Matt Barkley: After Sarkisian dropped a bomb of an early-week declaration, saying he would take USC quarterback Matt Barkley ahead of Stanford's Andrew Luck, the Trojans' quarterback responded by saying the UW coach's words were "sugar-coating."

Sarkisian's response?

"I’m not sure what that meant, to be quite honestly. I am not going to change my feelings of it. I think they actually grow stronger now that I’ve watched even more film of him," Sarkisian said.

"(Barkley) is a great player – great player, in a good system. And he’s arguably having one of the greatest seasons ever in that school’s history at that position. He is knocking on (Matt) Leinart’s door for the Pac-10 record for touchdown passes at 38. So, you know, if I were a head coach and I had to run a team to run our offense, he would be the guy. That is not a knock on Andrew Luck – he is a great player. He will probably be the first pick of the (NFL) Draft."

* Mom still staying home. To this day in Sarkisian's two-plus seasons - a span of 34 games - his mother, Sally, has yet to see him coach in person.

And she won't again Saturday, even though Sarkisian's parents still live in Torrance, Calif., just right down the street from the USC campus.

"She'd rather watch it on TV," Sarkisian said. "Gets a better view, probably, like a lot of people these days.'"

The two do talk before every game.

Any advice given?

"Go kick their butt, that's about what I get," Sarkisian said.

* Travel plans: The UW departs Sea-Tac Airport at approximately 2 p.m. Friday, and should arrive in Los Angeles sometime after 4 p.m.

The team will not hold a walkthrough at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum later that afternoon.