SEATTLE – Austin Seferian-Jenkins will continue this week to refine moves in order to free himself of two opposition players at once. He’ll just be doing it out of a three-point stance.
During last week’s 34-15 win over Utah, Seferian-Jenkins, already the best tight end in Huskies history as a sophomore, was inserted on third down to rush the passer as a defensive end.
It was a surprise move from coach Steve Sarkisian, largely necessitated by injuries and a general lack of a pass rush. Washington is tied with Colorado for 10th in the conference in sacks with 17. That’s just two ahead of last-place Arizona.
Defensive end Talia Crichton missed the game because of an injury as did defensive tackle Josh Banks.
So, as a part-time solution, Sarkisian dispatched Seferian-Jenkins to the right side of the defensive line Saturday, but only on third down. That moved end Andrew Hudson inside and put Josh Shirley on the opposite side.
“I thought he was relatively successful at doing that in the game,” Sarkisian said. “Obviously, he didn’t just beat the tackle and sack the quarterback, but he allowed us to move Hudson down inside to do some things from getting more speed on the field and utilizing that ... I think that helped Andrew and he got a sack later in the ballgame because of that.”
All year Sarkisian has refrained from using linebacker Shaq Thompson on offense despite feeling Thompson’s athletic gifts would make him a good running back. Even earlier in the season, when it was not clear that Bishop Sankey would rumble to the quality year he is having, Sarkisian resisted employing Thompson, saying he would not jeopardize the success of the defense.
But, he’s chosen to take the risk with Seferian-Jenkins, who is the school’s all-time leader in receptions by a tight end and was named one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award, which goes to the nation’s best tight end, on Monday.
“We know this is a violent sport,” Sarkisian said. “But guys can get injured doing stuff when there is nobody around them and we saw that early in the season, so I am not as concerned. It’s not as if he’s in there taking on run blocks and different things and he’s not in on goal line; he’s in there on obvious passing downs where he’s rushing the passer. So if we are coaching afraid to get hurt, then we are afraid to lose, too.”
Seferian-Jenkins said Saturday he had no problem with the move and his focus now is to get better at the position. He’s improved all other aspects of his game this season.
His 55 catches and 731 yards in 10 games are already ahead of last year’s totals of 41 and 538. Seferian-Jenkins struggled with his blocking earlier in the season, but Sarkisian said that has been much improved the past two weeks.
“I don’t know who is playing better right now than him at that position around the country,” Sarkisian said. “I just know what he is doing and he is playing at a high level.”
In fall camp, Seferian-Jenkins said he needed to be better this season at mentally discarding negative plays, whether it’s a dropped pass, a missed block or just not getting the ball often early in the game. That’s an ongoing battle, but one Sarkisian said Seferian-Jenkins has begun to win.
So, don’t be surprised to see No. 88 on a three-point stance with a white towel dangling from his hip Saturday in Boulder, Colo. One of the country’s best tight ends will be hunting for his first sack to add to his list of accomplishments this year.
“I don’t think it’s ever just going to go away,” Sarkisian said. “It’s got to fit the gameplan and who we’re playing and what we’re doing.”
Sarkisian said freshman defensive lineman Pio Vatuvei is probably done for the season. He did not specify Vatuvei’s injury. ... Sarkisian also said that they will have to re-evaluate Desmond Trufant as the week goes along. He left Saturday’s game early after re-aggravating a hamstring injury. ... LB Princeton Fuimaono will also be out a couple weeks, Sarkisian said. .. The University of Washington reprimanded The News Tribune for excessive tweeting and game-thread blog coverage of a live event following the Huskies men’s basketball game Sunday night. The university introduced a new policy prior to this football season which put in place a recommended cap on the number of updates (20 for basketball, 45 for football) that can be made during live events. The policy states: “If UW deems that a Credential Holder is producing a real-time description of the contest, UW reserves all actions against Credential Holder, including but not limited to the revocation of the credential.”
Huskies’ opponent this week
COLORADO (1-9 OVERALL, 1-6 PACIFIC-12)
10:30 A.M. SATURDAY, FOLSOM FIELD
TV: FX. Radio: 950-AM, 102.9-FM
COACH: Jon Embree (4-19, second season)
AGAINST THE HUSKIES: Washington leads the all-time series, 6-5-1.
WASHINGTON CONNECTIONS: Colorado’s coaching staff includes one member, receivers coach Bobby Kennedy, who worked at Washington. Kennedy was a member of the UW staff under Rick Neuheisel. CU defensive line coach Mike Tuiasosopo, a longtime assistant at Arizona, is a former star at Pacific Lutheran and an uncle to former Huskies Marques and Zach Tuiasosopo. Three members of the Colorado staff – Embree, Eric Bieniemy and Kanavis McGhee – all played against the Huskies in the 1980s. Washington’s new offensive coordinator, Eric Kiesau, spent the 2006-10 seasons on the coaching staff at Colorado.
SCOUTING REPORT: If it wasn’t for a last-second win in Pullman against Washington State, Colorado would be winless. The Buffs have been brutal on their way to a 1-9 season. Colorado has scored 117 points and allowed 351. No one else in the conference has allowed more than 291.
DID YOU KNOW: Running back Bishop Sankey is two rushing touchdowns from moving into a tie for second place on Washington’s all-time single-season list.
Sept. 1lost to Colorado St., 22-17Oct. 20lost to USC, 50-6
Sept. 8lost to Sac.State, 30-28Oct. 27lost to Oregon, 70-14
Sept. 15lost to Fresno St., 69-14Nov. 3lost to Stanford, 48-0
Sept. 22def. WSU, 35-34Nov. 10lost to Arizona, 56-31
Sept. 29lost to UCLA 42-14SaturdayWashington
Oct. 11lost to Arizona St., 51-17Nov. 23Utahtodd.firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com