SEATTLE – Washington has four sacks in three games. As does Washington State linebacker Travis Long.
No major math necessary to realize that’s not good for the Huskies.
So, Steve Sarkisian’s dissatisfaction with and focus on the Huskies’ ability to get to the quarterback during the bye week is understandable.
“Back to the drawing board at creating a pass rush,” Sarkisian said. “We haven’t done a very good job of that in the first three games, so that allows us to spend a good four days of a bye week in generating a pass rush, whether that’s through scheme or technique or through where guys are playing in certain situations.”
There have been opportunities. Last year’s sack leader, Josh Shirley, has just one this season but has been in the backfield numerous times with a chance to tackle, then celebrate.
Yet, his technique once he gets into the backfield has left him grasping at pieces of a quarterback. Instead of heading toward matching last season’s 81/2 sacks, tied for second in the conference, Shirley has just one, from the opening week against San Diego State.
“We’ve got to get better,” Shirley said. “We’ve got to break down, not be as aggressive, settle down at the end, wrap up and make the tackle.”
At the other end of the line. Andrew Hudson also has a single sack. He’s lamenting an inability to at least get in the same position as Shirley has often been, which is having a shot at the quarterback.
“My technique didn’t allow me to get there because I wasn’t executing,” Hudson said.
It won’t be any easier next week when the Huskies face ninth-ranked Stanford on Sept. 27 in their Pacific-12 Conference opener. Stanford leads the Pac-12 in fewest sacks allowed per game, giving up just 0.67 despite having new quarterback Josh Nunes take over for Andrew Luck, who was the No. 1 pick in this year’s NFL draft.
Although the Cardinal’s is a run-first offense, it’s still in the middle of the conference pack in passing. That makes duty for the UW defensive ends against the Cardinal two-fold: They will have to get to Nunes but also not be overwhelmed when rushed at.
“It’s all about execution,” Shirley said.
A NEW HUSKY
Transfer Travell Dixon was officially added to the roster and on the sideline at practice Tuesday wearing No. 31. Dixon played the last two seasons at Eastern Arizona College, where he was considered one of the top junior college cornerbacks in the country. He originally enrolled at Alabama in January but left there in August because of personal reasons.
He enrolled at Washington prior to the academic quarter and will be eligible in 2013 as a junior.
At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, the Miami native is now the largest cornerback on the Washington roster. He is a prime candidate to replace senior Desmond Trufant next season.
Dixon was named a first-team NJCAA All-American as a sophomore in 2011, when he recorded 39 tackles and four interceptions. He also was named Arizona Community College Athletic Conference co-defensive player of the year.
As a freshman in 2010, he was a first-team all-region and all-league selection for Eastern Arizona.
Linebacker Shaq Thompson was not at practice Tuesday. The school said he was excused for “personal reasons.”firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Todd_Dybas