San Diego State's aggressive pledge won't alter Huskies' plan
Aztecs might not punt past midfield
Seattle Times staff reporter
San Diego State @ Washington, CenturyLink, 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Washington's game Saturday with San Diego State not only is the season opener for both teams but a test of whether Aztecs coach Rocky Long will stick with an intriguing idea he proposed a few weeks ago.
Long, in his second year as head coach at San Diego State, said he was considering never punting any time his team got past midfield.
"Additional plays would allow you to score a lot more points," Long told The San Diego Union-Tribune. "It also puts a whole lot of pressure on the defense."
In a news conference last week, Long said he still hasn't decided if he will go through with the bold plan.
"We are still considering whether we are going to do that or not, but that's the way we've practiced from day one in camp," he said.
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said San Diego State's idea wouldn't impact the Huskies' game plan.
"I don't know if we've ever punted inside the 50," he said with a laugh. "The reality of it is, you cross the 50, the kicking game is very intriguing, especially when you start getting into the 40 and the high 30s and trusting punters and kickers, and what do you really get from punting from the 32- or the 35-yard line. Is 12 yards really that much if it goes into the end zone?"
In fact, UW punted seven times last year inside the 50. It also went for it nine times on fourth downs from yard lines where it could have punted (either its own territory or from outside the 30), converting four. Overall, UW was 8 for 16 attempting to convert on fourth downs last year, tied for 54th in the nation.
Sarkisian said the biggest factor to consider as an opponent is that a coach could call different offensive plays if he knows he's always going to go for it.
"The one thing it can lend itself to, if a team has a third-and-nine, third-and-10 from the 42-yard-line, 43-yard-line, you can really be willing to run the football in that scenario to get yourself into a fourth-and-three, fourth-and-four situation," he said. "A much more manageable fourth-down scenario. So that's what you have to be prepared for (as an opposing coach)."
Sarkisian's stint as an assistant coach at San Diego State was so short-lived, it's not even mentioned in his official UW bio.
But Sarkisian's first full-time coaching job at a Division I school was at San Diego State, where he was hired as quarterbacks coach early in 2002 after spending the 2001 season at USC as a graduate assistant.
Roughly six weeks later, a full-time job opened up at USC and Sarkisian returned there, almost as quickly as he had left.
Asked Thursday about his time at San Diego State, Sarkisian laughed and said, "I know what my office looked like — I was sleeping there most of the time, hadn't even moved down there yet."
• Sarkisian said Thursday after practice that his team's personnel situation was "status quo" and that there were no new injuries.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org