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Originally published Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 8:45 PM

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Washington's receiver rotation shaken up by injury

Sophomore receiver Devin Aguilar, who has started twice this season, suffered a knee sprain in practice Wednesday and will not play against Stanford on Saturday. Jordan Polk is listed as the starter, but coach Steve Sarkisian said Cody Bruns will replace Aguilar.

Seattle Times staff reporters

Saturday

Washington @ Stanford,

6 p.m., FSC, 950 AM

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Washington coach Steve Sarkisian will have to plug a gaping hole in the receivers rotation when the Huskies play their first road game Saturday at Stanford.

Sophomore receiver Devin Aguilar, who has started twice this season, suffered a knee sprain in practice Wednesday and will not play against the Cardinal. Jordan Polk is listed as the starter, but Sarkisian said Cody Bruns will replace Aguilar.

Aguilar has seven receptions for 107 yards.

"It's a good opportunity for Cody Bruns to play more, to get him out there catching passes and running around," Sarkisian said. "It's unfortunate because Devin, up to that point, has been playing well. I don't think it will be a long injury. We expect to see him next week."

As a precaution, Sarkisian kept several ailing players from practicing Thursday, including receiver James Johnson, guard Senio Kelemete and strong safety Nate Williams. They are expected to play Saturday.

Noble out indefinitely

Lineman Craig Noble, who recently switched from defense to offense, has been diagnosed with a potentially career-threatening heart condition. He is undergoing medical tests on an irregular heartbeat, and Sarkisian was unclear when the team will know more about his condition.

UW's challenge:

Stop the run

It's a mantra of coaches almost every week that the first thing their team has to do to win is stop the run.

But some weeks it's more important than others, and this looms as one for the Huskies.

As defensive coordinator Nick Holt says of the Cardinal, "They are a committed run team." Meaning that even if at first it doesn't succeed at running, it will try, try again.

Stanford, however, has had increasing success at it since Jim Harbaugh took over as coach in 2007. Last year the Cardinal was second in the Pac-10 in rushing behind Oregon. Through three games this year the Cardinal is fourth, but with better totals per game (204.7 vs. 199.6 in 2008) and per carry (5.7 to 4.9). That success is vital for Stanford as it breaks in redshirt freshman quarterback Andrew Luck.

Sarkisian said this week that the Cardinal would be among the most physical teams the Huskies will play this season. That's due in part to burly running back Toby Gerhart, a 6-foot-1, 235-pounder who is averaging 105.3 yards.

It's also due to a rugged offensive line that Harbaugh says "is playing the best it has since we've been here."

One member of that starting five is right guard David DeCastro, a redshirt freshman from Bellevue. The 6-foot-5, 310-pounder has started every game for the Cardinal.

The soft-spoken DeCastro said this week that it was "kind of a surprise" that he ended up starting so quickly.

DeCastro was a top target of the Huskies for the Class of 2008, and after committing to Stanford early began to reconsider the home team as signing day neared.

But ultimately he said it was "just the education" that lured him to Stanford.

"UW is obviously a great education, too, but Stanford is really, really good," DeCastro said. "There's life after football."

Holt expects Stanford to line up in two-tight end formations often and come right after the Huskies.

"You've got to be ready mentally to play physically," he said.

DeCastro said that will be the goal for the Cardinal, as well.

"That's definitely what you want, is to be a physical offensive line and set the tone," he said.

Note

• The Huskies are juggling a trio of defensive ends opposite All-Pac-10 lineman Daniel Te'o-Nesheim. Senior Darrion Jones, sophomore Kalani Aldrich and freshman Talia Crichton have each started a game this season. Jones and Aldrich are battling injuries, while Sarkisian said Crichton played well last week against USC in his first career start.

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com;

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

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