Colorado Daily – Washington
Notes and quotes from Washington
From the Seattle Times…
The Huskies are done with their Thursday practice, their last significant work of the week before heading to Boulder tomorrow for Saturday’s 10:30 a.m. game at Colorado.
A couple of quick personnel notes:
— UW coach Steve Sarkisian talked more about the move of Shane Brostek to defense, saying again it’s not necessarily permanent and more to help fill in the depth right now (Pio Vatuvei out, Josh Banks, Talia Crichton, Semisi Tokolahi all nursing injuries): “We are nicked up on the defensive line right now and Shane having already played a good amount of football on the offensive side of the ball and having a background on the defensive side, was just a guy that I think can swing over there and help us from a depth standpoint. He’s an athletic guy, strikes well, and so we’ll see how much opportunity he gets in this game — we’ll see. But for him to be able to give us that and a guy that can potentially if something happens on offense can fill in on offense and if something happens on defense can fill in on defense, that’s a feather in his cap that he is able to do that.”
— Sarkisian noted Brostek played a lot of defense in high school: “He’s a very aggressive guy and he’s extremely athletic. When we are running and doing different conditioning drills he is always the first offensive lineman winning those types of races. So when he goes to the defensive line, his athleticism, it isn’t like your traditional O-lineman moving over because he is so athletic, so it gives him a chance to be able to do those things.”
— Sarkisian also said backup linebacker Jamaal Kearse and backup running back Dezden Petty will not make the trip to Colorado. He said Kearse got hurt against Utah and Petty this week in practice. He said everyone else (obviously of those not already out) should be able to make the trip.
Quotes from Steve Sarkisian …
On the altitude in Boulder: “One of the keys with the altitude is to get your rest so that you’re at your optimum energy level. And you have to hydrate. Those are the two things that you have to do, and it can’t just be the day before the game. It has to be a week-long process, and I think our guys have addressed it and understand that.”
On home remedies for altitude: “Just be rested, hydrated and not let it get to you mentally. We’re not making that big a deal out of it.”
On if anything has changed in the winning streak: “I don’t think that we made any drastic changes, wholesale changes. We didn’t scrap our offense or defense or anything. We had a lot of stick-to-itiveness. I think some things changed from a mentality standpoint. There was obviously a real sense of urgency. Everybody wants to win on Saturday when the game comes, but that same want-to has to be there Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday…that has to be collectively the entire team, it just can’t be spotty – some here and some there. I think a lot of those types of things were addressed and then ultimately our execution has improved. The Arizona game was a bit disappointing in all three phases because we didn’t execute great. And maybe part of that is the plan and what we were trying to get done and how much we were giving the guys, and two – ultimately when you step on the field you have to execute and make your plays. And we weren’t great at that at that time; we’re much better than that now a month later.”
On learning things about the team going through that stretch: “I think we’re maturing, one – from a psyche standpoint. We’ve been a football team that has played with a great deal of youth, but we’ve matured. And that’s pretty cool to see as a coach that your younger players are growing and maturing. I’ve even talked to even some of them about that here this past week of how proud I am of them because there was some rough stretches in there for some of our younger players that, in turn, made it some rough stretches for some of our older players. But from a maturity standpoint, it’s been great. I think our ability to run the football has been impressive in this stretch run that we’ve been on and we’ll continue to do that. I think that’s helped our passing game, quite honestly, offensively.”
On the run game and improvement: “I think there’s continuity amongst the offensive line, the same five guys playing together. I think it’s Bishop’s (Sankey) comfort level and maturity and growing and understanding the position. And I think it’s our coaching staff understanding what these guys do well and then ultimately putting in a game plan and then calling plays that is conductive to what they block well and what he can run well.”
On peaking at the right moments and playing their best at the end of the season: “We’ve always tried to harken that, our ability to finish. Talk about, you guys have watched us practice, the end of our practices are sometimes more intense than the beginning of our practices for that very reason. We talk about our ability to finish in the fourth quarter of tight games. We talk about our ability to finish seasons and our ability to play well down the stretch in seasons and we have done a pretty good job of that in our four years here and this is giving us another opportunity to do that. It just keeps hammering home that mindset of our ability to finish and execute and playing hard. There is something to it. We are excited that we have strung three in a row together and excited about the opportunity to try to make it four in a row this Saturday.”
Matt Rusell, Rashaan Salaam, Joe Garten and Larry Zimmer amongst CU greats inducted
The Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame inducted twelve new members this week. In addition to such greats as Boyd Dowler (who scored the first touchdown in Super Bowl I), track star Mary Decker-Slaney (“I am not a Duck” said Slaney, who now lives in Eugene. “In my heart, I was always a Buff”) and two-time U.S. Open winner Steve Jones, there were some more recent Buff football players inducted, along with long-time CU announcer Larry Zimmer.
Here are some bios, along with the comments made by the inductees at the event …
Joe Garten, Football (1987-90)
An offensive guard, he was one of the first three unanimous All-Americans in CU history as a senior in 1990, along with tailback Eric Bieniemy and outside linebacker Alfred Williams that same year, both of whom are already in the Hall. He was also a consensus first-team All-American as a junior and a two-time, unanimous first-team All-Big Eight performer as a junior and senior. He was the runner-up for the Outland Trophy as a senior and still shares the school record for the most starts by an offensive player in school history with 44 from 1987-90.
Garten opened by looking over his shoulder at the photos of the dozen inductees. “Everyone else up here, they all had great stats. An offensive linemen getting in with these people – wow. I still get excited when I come back here and coming over that hill into Boulder. It’s a spectacular sight I never get tired of.” He thanked his coaches and a couple of administrators, but made a point to honor is scholarship donors, John and Shaaron Parker (who also coordinated the Ralphie program), and his brother Steve, who at first couldn’t attend but wound up driving 1,100 miles on Tuesday to be here for him.
Matt Russell, Football (1993-96)
He won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker as a senior in 1996, when he was a consensus first-team All-American; also a two-time, first-team all-conference selection (All-Big Eight as a junior in ‘95; All-Big 12 as a senior in ’96). He finished his career as the second all-time leading tackler in Colorado history (446), with his 282 unassisted tackles setting a school record that still stands, and played in 44 career games, including starts in the last 40. He helped coach the secondary at Colorado in 2000 while assistant coach Tom McMahon was battling cancer; in 2009, he joined the Denver Broncos as their director of college scouting and in 2012 was named their director of player personnel.
The always jovial Russell said he rivaled Culpepper in bad 90s hairstyles and said he was sure his father called CU and said not to use any pictures of him with a mullet or a Mohawk, or wearing earrings. “I was about 225 pounds when I got here, and I see Greg Biekert at a rock solid 250m and I was thinking, ‘If they want the scholarship back, they can have it.’” But he’s always been humble. “You get awards like this when you’re surrounded by great players. And I have to give a lot of credit to my position coach, Brian Cabral.” He also cited Gary Barnett for having the confidence in making him a temporary assistant coach in 2000 when Tom McMahon was battling cancer, noted that started his transition into what he does today.
Rashaan Salaam, Football (1992-94)
He was just the fourth player in college football history at the time to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season, and did so in an 11-game campaign in 1994 that included six ranked opponents. He led the nation in rushing (2,055 yards), scoring (144 points) and all-purpose yards (213.6 per game) in leading CU to an 11-1 record and winning the Heisman Trophy, the school’s first and only, the Doak Walker Award (nation’s top running back) and the Walter Camp Trophy (national player of the year).
Salaam shared with the audience that his mother (Khalada) wasn’t going to sign the letter-of-intent for him to attend CU. “She wanted me to go to Stanford, but Stanford was like La Jolla Country Day (his high school) on steroids. CU was the best place for me to achieve my dreams. But I arrived here cocky and undisciplined. Coach Mac (Bill McCartney) and all the coaches helped me so much.” He specifically thanked several people, including Brian Cabral who recruited him. “He believed in me after looking my film.” He closed with a reading of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, If, dedicating it to current CU football coach Jon Embree (If you can keep your head when all about you … Are losing theirs and blaming it on you …
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you … etc.), altering the ending to, “and if you do, the Buffs will rise again!”
Larry Zimmer, Announcer (1971-present)
He is the first inductee into the Hall who is not a former athlete, coach or administrator; but he’s been a part of more football and men’s basketball games than perhaps anyone else in school history, calling 481 for football and 525 in basketball, or 1,006 total, through the 2011 season. He was awarded an Honorary “C” in 1992, and was honored as the 15th recipient of the Chris Schenkel Award by the National Football Foundation in 2009, which recognizes those who have enjoyed a long and distinguished career broadcasting college football at a single institution.
All inductees were nominated by their peers in the Alumni C-Club or by members of the selection committee; over 60 names originally submitted were pared to 25 finalists and then voted on by the seven-member committee that produced one of the deepest classes in CU Athletic HOF history.
The group will be inducted in the Hall of Fame Thursday night, November 15, be part of the parade at the Pearl Street Stampede and a CU basketball game the next night and will be introduced at halftime of the next day’s CU-Washington football game.
Zimmer opened with “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever be up here,” noting that he was the emcee at most of the first eight ceremonies. He recalled that when he received an Honorary “C” some 20 years ago, that his relationship with the University of Colorado, “Couldn’t get any better. It just got better. To go in with this class, to be a part of this group – wow. This recognition is the best because it represents the largest portion of the body of all my work.” He shared a story of him growing up and attending LSU games in New Orleans where he group up, and the irony of his first game he would call for the Buffaloes on Sept. 11, 1971, was in his hometown. The Buffs defeated the Tigers, 31-21, “A great way for the team to start and a great way to start for me as well.”
The 2012 class is the largest inducted into the Hall since it was conceived by then-athletic director Dick Tharp in 1998, as the Hall now numbers 59 individuals in size, along with the entire 1959 ski team which have now been enshrined to date.
Hirschman still not cleared to play … but Richardson is …
From the Daily Camera … It looks like third-year sophomore Connor Wood will make his first college start for Colorado on Saturday when the Buffs host Washington at Folsom Field.
Coaches benched junior Jordan Webb a week ago because they said he had lost confidence. Fellow third-year sophomore Nick Hirschman started last week’s game at Arizona but suffered a concussion and was replaced by Wood.
Embree said Wednesday he doubts that Hirschman will be able to play against the Huskies, setting up Wood’s biggest opportunity so far. Wood has completed 18 of 36 passes for 254 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions while playing in parts of six games this season.
Wide receiver Paul Richardson has been practicing on scout team this week and Embree said he has looked good.
Richardson suffered a torn ACL last spring and has missed the entire season recovering from surgery. Embree said Richardson will be a full participant in spring ball in March and April.
“He’s pretty much full-go right now,” Embree said. “So he’ll be good to go when we get going in the spring.”
Hirschman not cleared – yet – for Washington game
From cubuffs.com … Sophomore Nick Hirschman won last week’s practice competition to determine Colorado’s starting quarterback at Arizona, but concussion symptoms could prevent him from making a second consecutive start.
Coach Jon Embree said on Monday that Hirschman will go through the prescribed battery of tests for players with concussion symptoms before a decision is made on Hirschman’s availability for Saturday’s game against Washington (11:30 a.m., Folsom Field, FX).
Outfitted in sweats, Hirschman watched Monday’s short practice but did little else. “We’ll see how many reps he can get (over the next three days) and how he’s feeling,” Embree said.
If Hirschman is not cleared to play or does not get enough practice work to sufficiently prepare him for the Huskies, Embree said sophomore Connor Wood would get Saturday’s start. Embree added that junior Jordan Webb, who opened in the Buffs’ first nine games, also “could be in the mix.”
Hirschman and Wood, said Embree, “played well and managed the game well” in last weekend’s 56-31 loss at Arizona. Hirschman left the game in the third quarter having completed 12 of 13 passes (one interception) for 123 yards. Wood replaced him and completed four of seven passes for 90 yards and his first collegiate touchdown pass.
“He made some good throws to give us a chance,” Embree said of Wood. “It would have been nice to get that one at the end, when he had Gerald (Thomas) open in the end zone.”
Colorado opens as a three-touchdown underdog against Washington
The Buffs, fresh off of beating the spread against Arizona (CU was a 28-point underdogs, and only lost by 25!), have a new challenge this weekend.
Colorado is listed as a 20-point underdog to Washington.
Pro – Washington, before scoring 34 against Utah last Saturday, had only scored over 21 points in one game this fall (52 v. Portland State). The Huskies have averaged only 15.5 points in four road games this season, with a high of 21.
Con – Two of Washington’s previous four road games were against LSU and Oregon, which boast significantly better defenses that that of Colorado. Last season, with much the same offensive arsenal as this year, Washington scored on every first half possession against Colorado in building a 38-10 halftime lead. Against the Buffs, the Huskies wound up with a 52-24 victory, the first time Washington scored more than 50 points in a game in over ten years.
Place your bets …
Washington bowl-eligible, looking for eight win regular season
From the Seattle-Times … Washington’s football season was unquestionably at a crossroads on the evening of Oct. 20 following a 52-17 beatdown at Arizona that seemed as mystifying to players and coaches as it did to UW fans.
Three weeks later, though, the Huskies have safely navigated their way back onto the right course.
A 34-15 win over Utah at CenturyLink Field Saturday night was UW’s third in a row and assured the Huskies (6-4) of at least a .500 regular season while also making them bowl eligible for a third straight season.
The last two years, mere bowl eligibility was something to be celebrated. Saturday night, though, UW coach Steve Sarkisian took a more muted approach, referring again to the team’s preseason goal.
“We talked early on as a football team that this season was about taking the next step,” he said. “We aren’t here just to get bowl eligible. There is plenty of meat left on our bone to go eat. And our goal is next Saturday — we get a chance to eat again.”
Indeed, with two regular-season games remaining against 1-9 Colorado on Saturday in Boulder and 2-8 Washington State on Nov. 23 in Pullman, UW will be favored to finish 8-4. That would be the team’s most wins since 2001.
And while it may not be a direct leap into championship contention, an eight-win season with a chance at a ninth in a bowl game would unquestionably mark another step in progress in the fourth year under Sarkisian.
The Utah game might have been the team’s best overall performance of the season as the Huskies outgained the Utes 437 yards to 188 — a season-high for UW — and put the game away with a particularly dominating fourth quarter. UW outgained Utah 95 to minus-16 in the fourth quarter, keyed by a 16-play, 82-yard drive that resulted in the final touchdown.
“This is a really cool win for our team because I thought we executed in all three phases really well,” Sarkisian said.
It was a third straight sterling performance by a defense continuing its seasonlong revival under first-year coordinator Justin Wilcox. The Huskies have allowed just 45 points in the last three games. UW allowed more than 17 points once in six home games, a 24-14 loss to USC when turnovers and special teams mistakes also contributed.
The offense, meanwhile, relied on the same formula it has since the Arizona game, when UW threw 52 passes. UW has shown more balance since with Bishop Sankey rushing for 162 yards against Utah (he has 443 yards in the past three games), giving him 1,017 for the season, becoming the 10th Husky player to top the 1,000-yard mark for a season.
A consistent running game has allowed UW to be more selective in its passing game, and quarterback Keith Price responded with maybe his best performance of the season against the Utes, completing 24 of 33 passes for 277 yards — and for only the third time this season and first since the Portland State game, no interceptions. He also scrambled effectively, picking up two key third downs on the clinching fourth-quarter drive.
“I’m happy for him,” Sarkisian said of Price. “It’s been a grind for that kid this season. Nobody works harder, nobody prepares more, there is not a better competitor in that locker room; some of those guys might argue with me. But he is an awesome kid and he deserved to have a game like this to get going.”
Price has hardly been alone in fighting through the grind of the season, though. The entire team saw its resiliency and fight publicly questioned after the Arizona defeat. There was little doubting it against Utah, though, as UW seemed to come up with every key play it needed, such as a stop on a fourth-and-one in the third quarter, or recovering a fumble later in the quarter on a fumbled punt.
“Our team is getting better toward the end of the season,” said defensive lineman Danny Shelton. “That is how teams are supposed to be, keep improving during the season. I feel we are going to keep riding this.”