TODAY'S GAME: The Long Wait Is Nearly Over

Sept. 5, 2009

by Jeff Bechthold

The funny thing about anticipation is the way in which it messes with one's concept of time.

As the clock ticks down from months, to days, to hours and now to mere minutes before the start of the 2009 Husky football season, the passing of time can seem exceedingly swift or excruciatingly slow.

In a lot of ways, the day back in December when Steve Sarkisian was introduced as the new head coach of the Huskies seems like a long time ago. After all, we in the Northwest have experienced a couple of snowstorms, several heat waves and a few seasons since then.

Then again, for Coach Sark and his staff, much of that period has probably whizzed by. From having to build a staff, to evaluating the current team, to recruiting (first for this year's class of freshmen then quickly thereafter for next year's), to compiling a playbook from scratch, it's been a busy spell for the coaches.

Certainly, many of the football staff would tell you that the last eight or nine months have flown by.

The fans are another story. Especially those fans who live and die with Husky football. We Husky fans were all bolstered by the numerous achievements of many other UW teams in the months since football ended, but nothing beats the fall and seven Saturdays here in this 90-year old landmark on Montlake Boulevard.

For so many of us, it's the start of football season that we long for all the rest of the year. It's coming to Husky Stadium on a warm September evening or a chilly November afternoon, hanging out with friends before and after and watching football in what remains one of the great settings in the nation.

For those of us who fall into that category, the march to the start of the season has been long and slow. Especially when we're all longing to watch the Huskies turn things around. Only the most pessimistic observer would find it difficult not to jump on board. If you went to even one practice in the spring or the fall, you saw with your own eyes a new kind of energy, enthusiasm and vitality that will show up on the field when the lights turn on tonight.

If nothing else, watching the Dawgs play with their traditional ferocity will be worth the wait. But, there are plenty of other reasons for optimism outside of the intangibles.

On offense, the Huskies have a healthy Jake Locker calling signals once again. Remember, he was only a freshman when he turned in one of the great statistical quarterbacking seasons in UW history.

He has a slew of good, young backs to hand the ball to. Any of them could emerge as the go-to back, or they could combine to get it done by committee. Either way, good options exist.

The receiving corps is similarly youthful and deep while the offensive line is slimmed, strengthened and rejuvenated.

On defense, the deep group of linemen is led by one of the most dogged players in college football, senior end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim. The starting linebackers -- seniors Donald Butler and E.J. Savannah and junior Mason Foster -- are unsurpassed in the Pac-10 in terms of experience while the secondary features both speed burners and hard hitters.

The waiting is just about over.

Time for the players to buckle up the chinstraps, the band to strike up 'Bow Down To Washington' and for some of the loudest fans in the nation to make themselves heard once again.

Welcome back to Husky football!

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