(1090 The Fan) — Part two of a four-game, November plan commences Friday night when Washington travels south to face No. 13-ranked UCLA.
It is a part of the country that many of the Huskies are familiar with, having called it home through the better part of their adolescent years, and it is a team that should be pretty familiar to the Washington coaching staff having recruited many of them including young stalwarts Brett Hundley, Myles Jack, Ishmael Adams and Eddie Vanderdoes.
UCLA (7-2, 4-2) is a program that head coach Jim Mora is trying to resurrect from the ashes. The Bruins are a team chock full of young, athletic and supremely talented players.
If they sound like a mirror image, it’s because they are, cue Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors.” In fact, both teams are neck-and-neck in such critical game statistics as offensive third-down efficiency, defensive third-down efficiency, turnover margin and offensive red-zone efficiency.
Whether or not the two teams are as even as they appear on paper or via statistics, coach Sarkisian is focused on one thing — winning, i.e. his four-part November plan.
“Four-and-oh in November,” repeated coach Sarkisian to reaffirm his team’s mindset as the season winds down. “And I think the best way for us to get there is if we can finish November plus-10 in the turnover margin.
“I think these are two very good football teams that are getting ready to play. In these types of games execution is paramount.”
One player that has been executing for Washington, executing really since his freshman season, is safety Sean Parker.
The senior Parker, has been a mainstay for the Huskies. Someone in the back end of the defense that can be counted on game-after-game, year-after-year, to play physical, to be a leader and to keep the defense stout.
A four-year starter, who has missed just four games since arriving on campus, Parker has continually been among the defense’s leaders in tackles and interceptions. He is in his second year as a team captain and was named to the Pac-12 preseason all-conference third team.
It has been a tremendous progression for a player who admitted earlier in the year that he used to let his emotions get the best of him. Asked this week to assess just which facet of his game he’s improved the most, Parker noted the mental side.
“Just my maturity. I have matured a lot and evolved as a vocal leader out there,” Parker answered. “I just have adopted the role just make sure everybody is on point, make sure everybody is doing their job.”
“I just want to leave the program with my passion, how I felt about the game. I hope it rubs off on the rest of the guys and the guys coming in. It’s a fun game.”
It’s also important to Parker and the rest of the seniors to help the Huskies get over the hump of the 7-6 campaigns that have dogged them (no pun intended) the past two years. Traveling down to Southern California and taking care of business this week is paramount in accomplishing that goal.
In order to do that, Washington is going to have to corral Hundley, the sophomore Bruins quarterback who has passed for 2,225 yards and 18 touchdowns with a 68.5 completion percentage. Hundley also has seven touchdowns rushing. Keeping him in check, limiting the Bruins running game which is now featuring the two-way star Jack, a Bellevue High alum, and remaining stout on third downs will be the focal point.
Once again, Parker will have to lead his team.
“When you think about some of the great DB’s who have played here over the years and for Sean to be there, I think, is just one aspect of the fact this guy has been a complete player,” Sarkisian said. “He’s an emotional leader of this team…He came here and had the potential to be great and I think he’s achieved it. I’m proud of him because he’s come a long, long way in four years.”
For the Huskies to do the same, they’ll need to win Friday.
-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)