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Sarkisian: Rising ASJ ''Integral'' Part Of Plan For UCLA

Nov 11, 2013

By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing

SEATTLE – Veterans Day was also “slash” day for the Huskies.

The Huskies (6-3, 3-3 Pac-12) held an unusual, late morning practice at Husky Stadium Monday. It started an unusual, condensed practice week for Friday’s huge test at No. 13 UCLA (7-2, 4-2) on ESPN2, the Washington IMG College radio network and here on with another exclusive game chat with free, live streaming audio of the UW radio call.

“It was a Monday-slash-Tuesday practice,” coach Steve Sarkisian said, squinting into the unseasonably warm November sun.

"We've sped things up a little bit. Tomorrow will be a true 'Wednesday' in our format.”

The players had the day off from classes today for the holiday. That allowed the team to practice about three hours later than it usually does.

Monday's helmets, shoulder-pads and shorts work was one of three full practices on campus before the team has a scaled-down one Thursday, then leaves later that day for Los Angeles. The coaches reviewed the CU film immediately after the game late Saturday night, then returned to the football operations center early Sunday morning to begin breaking down UCLA tapes and forming this week's plan.

That game plan will feature Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

The huge tight end and preseason All-American had something of a breakout in last week’s 59-7 win over Colorado with three catches for a season-high-tying 62 yards -- including a basketball-like touchdown catch when the 6-foot-6, 270-pound target basically boxed out his defender in the end zone, leaped and caught Keith Price’s jump-ball pass. Sarkisian was successful in getting Seferian-Jenkins one-on-one against an overwhelmed Colorado safety.

“I really appreciated him trusting me to go up and get it,” Seferian-Jenkins said of Price after Saturday night’s game.

UW didn't throw a pass after halftime, or he likely would have had his biggest game of the season.

The TD catch was the 18th of Seferian-Jenkins’ career. That extended his on-going UW record for a tight end. That was fourth-most in school history among all players.

Asked if ASJ is poised to explode, the offense's play caller said, "I'd like him to, you know. That would be great for us, beneficial.

"To Austin's credit, he just keep practicing really well," Sarkisian said. "And when you do things right every day that just becomes the habit and you play well. He's played well for weeks now.

"He'll be an integral part of this game plan."

Seferian-Jenkins didn’t want to talk much about himself after Saturday’s win, but was happy to talk about the good vibe the Huskies have right now.

“You know, coming off two wins in a row now, feels good,” he said. “We had a little three-game skid there. Now we are back here at 6-3 and we’ve got a great opportunity this week.”

Even with this week’s accelerated schedule, Shaq Thompson has already shown he's recovered from the shoulder "stinger" nerve pinch that had him sitting out two series in the first half last week. UW's play-making outside linebacker returned in the second quarter to play into the second half.

"Yeah, he's good to go," for UCLA, Sarkisian said of Thompson.

As for starting safety Will Shamburger, Sarkisian said he's not sure whether the fifth-year senior will be recovered from a similar injury in time to play against the Bruins.

"We'll see. I'm hopeful. Short week, it's not ideal," Sarkisian said. "But hopefully we can get him back."

If not, freshman Kevin King will make his second career start. Sarkisian thought King played "pretty good," beyond Colorado's only touchdown, a pass to Paul Richardson past King in the first quarter.

"The communication factor is one of the keys back there, and he probably could have played that play better, along with a couple other plays," the coach said of King, from Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland. "But all in all, first time out, pretty good."

INSIDE THE DAWGS: The Huskies are playing at the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2009. They haven't beaten UCLA there in seven tries since Nov. 11, 1995, Jim Lambright's third season succeeding Don James. … Bishop Sankey is third in the nation averaging 145 yards per game. His 30 career rushing touchdowns are tied for third in UW history, four away from Napoleon Kaufman’s record. Sankey’s 2,931 career yards rushing are fourth in school history. His 1,305 yards rushing through nine games this season are already seventh-most in UW history.