By Chadd Cripe
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
I’m on my way to Las Vegas this afternoon. The Broncos arrive this evening. The Washington Huskies arrived Monday evening.
In tomorrow’s paper, we have our usual look at the opponent — a scouting report and a player feature, this one on tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
For the blog, I’ve put together a list of key Washington players with some quotes I’ve collected about each:
CB Desmond Trufant (6-0, 186, sr.): The younger brother of former Washington State star Marcus Trufant is the Huskies’ only All-Pac-12 first-teamer. “He’s played a lot of football,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. “He’s a smart guy who studies tape and knows tendencies and is a big corner. He’s seen a lot of good players and a lot of different routes.” That sounds just like what Petersen would say about his own star corner, Jamar Taylor. … Boise State QB Joe Southwick on Trufant: “He does a great job gloving some receivers up. He’s fast. He fits the mold of that speedy defense.”
Nickel Shaq Thompson (6-2, 225, fr.): Thompson’s role is similar to that of the nickel in Boise State’s defense, since both were installed by Justin Wilcox. The true freshman was a marquee recruit in the 2012 class. “Sometimes you might see a freshman out there who runs around and makes plays now and then,” Petersen said. “This guy makes plays and he’s physical. I guess that’s one of the reasons he was so highly recruited.” Thompson is fourth on the team with 66 tackles. He also has 8.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions and three pass breakups. “I thought Shaq had an awesome year,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian told Seattle reporters earlier this month. “His playmaking ability is, I think, contagious. He was a big reason that we started to create the turnovers that we were. … Quite honestly, I was a little surprised he wasn’t defensive freshman of the year in our conference.”
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (6-6, 266, so.): He already is being called the best tight end in school history and was a finalist for the Mackey Award (nation’s top tight end). He ranks second on the team with 63 catches and first with 789 receiving yards. He’s tied for the team lead with six TD catches. He also has made a few appearances at defensive end and played basketball last season. “I have no idea (how to deal with big, athletic tight ends),” Petersen said. “No one else does either. That’s what it is in the NFL. No one has the answer there. … We’ll have to certainly be aware of him at all times.” … Sarkisian on his tight end: “He’s got a high football IQ. So he allows us to move him and put him in a lot of different spots on the field and not be so one-dimensional. We can create matchups with him. His willingness to do that and to accept that and excel in those different spots on the field is what makes him dangerous.”
QB Keith Price (6-1, 202, jr.): Price experienced a sharp statistical dropoff this season and was turnover-prone. But he also was dealing with injuries on the offensive line and a lack of production at wide receiver. He’s elusive but doesn’t run much. “He’s a mobile guy but we think of him as a pro-style quarterback,” Petersen said. “His deal isn’t to get out there and run all over. He can run for first downs, but he’s looking to throw the ball.”
RB Bishop Sankey (5-10, 200, so.): Sankey is a strong between-the-tackles runner with 1,234 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns this season. He also ranks third on the team with 27 catches. “He’s got really good feet,” Boise State defensive lineman Darren Koontz said. “He keeps moving through contact and breaks tackles.”
WR Kasen Williams (6-2, 216, so.): Williams, a national player of the year in high school, leads the team with 71 catches for 783 yards and six touchdowns. “He just goes up and gets the ball,” Taylor said. “He can kind of put you to sleep a little bit and the next thing you know he’s jumping over your head. He can just be a big-play guy.”
DE Josh Shirley (6-3, 230, so.): Shirley plays the McClellin/Ukwuachu position. He has 30 tackles and is tied for the team lead with 6.5 sacks (Andrew Hudson, the other end, has matched him). “(Shirley) is an exceptional pass rusher,” Boise State offensive line coach Chris Strausser said. “He’s got good speed. He makes plays. He’s definitely a guy who stands out.”
Note that of these seven players, six are scheduled to return in 2013 when the Broncos open the season in Seattle. The Huskies expect to start just five seniors Saturday.
And another note: The Huskies have forced 32 turnovers this season, ranking right behind the Broncos (33) near the top of the national stats.
Here is some info on the Huskies I ran earlier this month:
Where: Seattle (620,778)
Colors: Purple and gold
Record: 7-5 overall, 5-4 Pac-12 (fourth in Pac-12 North)
Rankings: Washington is not ranked, but is as high as 24th in the six BCS computers with an average ranking of 33.5. (Boise State’s average is 33.3.)
Key games: Beat San Diego State (21-12), Stanford (17-13), Oregon State (20-17); lost to LSU (41-3), Oregon (52-21), USC (24-14)
Last game: Lost to Washington State 31-28 (OT) on Nov. 23
Coach: Steve Sarkisian (26-24, fourth year)
Offensive stats (FBS rank): 23.8 ppg (88), 137.2 rushing ypg (90), 210.4 passing ypg (86), 347.6 total ypg (99)
Defensive stats (FBS rank): 23.8 ppg (37), 164.3 rushing ypg (67), 188.9 passing ypg (16), 353.3 total ypg (30)
Special teams notes: The Huskies’ punt team has been a liability, ranking 107th in the nation in net average. Their gross average is just 38.3 yards, one punt was blocked for a touchdown and another was returned for a TD. Senior wide receiver Cody Bruns of Prosser (Wash.) High has provided a spark as a punt returner.
Bowl history: The Huskies are 16-15-1. They lost a shootout to Baylor 67-56 in the 2011 Alamo Bowl. Their last win was against Nebraska in the 2010 Holiday Bowl. This is the first appearance in Las Vegas for a program that has played in 14 Rose Bowls, including one in each of the past nine decades (most recently 2001).
Did you know? The Washington State loss ended the Huskies’ 11-game winning streak in close games (decided by fewer than 10 points).
A few resources for this week:
— Here are Washington’s updated stats.
— Here is the MAACO Bowl schedule of events.
While Boise State senior wide receiver Mitch Burroughs returns to a larger role with a cast to protect his injured wrist, junior receiver Kirby Moore has taken a cast off one of his hands for the bowl, Petersen said.
Moore’s injury was kept quiet. He didn’t miss a game.
“He’s made some clutch, clutch catches,” Petersen said. “We finally got that (cast) off. I wanted him to put the cast back on.”
Catching with a cast, Petersen said, forces the receivers to concentrate more on the ball.
“I see that in Mitch as well,” he said. “… He’s really catching the ball well.”