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Originally published December 13, 2013 at 3:42 PM | Page modified December 14, 2013 at 4:05 PM

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Huskies, Marques Tuiasosopo focus on bowl game

Former Washington star Marques Tuiasosopo will coach the Huskies against BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl. After that, he’s not sure. But his focus now is on UW winning its ninth game of the season.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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Marcus Peters summed up the feeling in and around the Washington football program.

“Man,” the UW sophomore cornerback said, “it’s been a long two weeks.”

Eleven days after the departure of their former coach, four days after the introduction of their new coach, and two weeks before their next game, the Huskies (8-4) on Friday returned to practice under the direction of interim coach Marques Tuiasosopo, who will lead his alma mater into the Dec. 27 Fight Hunger Bowl against BYU (8-4).

It was good, the Huskies said, to be back on the field after the coaching commotion of the past two weeks saw the abrupt departure of Steve Sarkisian to USC and the arrival of Chris Petersen from Boise State.

Whether Tuiasosopo — or any of the assistant coaches left over from Sarkisian’s UW staff — will be back with the Huskies after the bowl game remains to be seen. The beloved former Huskies quarterback didn’t sound a like man planning to return on Petersen’s new UW staff, but Tuiasosopo said his focus is getting the team ready for the bowl game.

“Football’s the fun part. That’s always the easy part,” Tuiasosopo said. “I think these young men have handled (the coaching transition) great. They’re ready to move on, and they want to finish the season right.”

Petersen watched part of Friday’s practice at the Dempsey Indoor facility from the sideline. He’s not expected to be involved much, if at all, in UW’s bowl preparations; his priority is recruiting.

Tuiasosopo said he has spoken “briefly” with Petersen, but “Tui” didn’t want to speculate about his future here or elsewhere.

“That all will take its course. I really am focusing on the bowl game,” he said. “Whatever happens is going to happen. Regardless, Washington football is in good hands. But I’m just excited about going to get nine wins.”

Joining Tuiasosopo in coaching Friday were Justin Wilcox, Eric Kiesau, Tosh Lupoi, Dan Cozzetto and Jordan Paopao. Tuiasosopo was the only assistant available for interviews.

Three former UW assistants have already joined Sarkisian at USC. One former Boise State assistant, Keith Bhonapha, has been on the road recruiting for UW with Petersen, and at least three other assistants from Boise will reportedly join the UW staff after the bowl season.

“It was a rough week,” said Peters, who was surprised at Sarkisian’s departure. “Things change, but we have a great coach in now and Coach Tui is our interim head coach and we just move on. You have to move on. You can’t sit there sulking. We have a big goal ahead of us and it’s nine wins. That hasn’t been done here since 2000, and it’ll be an excellent step for this program going into next year with Coach Pete.”

The team, Peters said, is rallying around Tui.

“Coach Tui is going to be a head coach somewhere down the line, and he’s going to be a good one at that,” Peters said. “It brings more excitement because he played here and he understands how Washington football is played. He’s going to bring so much more energy and so much more passion to us.”

Petersen had introduced himself to the UW players last Saturday.

“Coach Pete is going to bring a new flavor to the program,” Peters said. “There’s nothing wrong with new. We just need to take that extra step. I think Coach Pete is going to help us push over (the hump).”

The coaching change appears to have cost the Huskies another recruit.

Don Hill, a defensive end from Boise, backed off his verbal commitment to the Huskies on Friday and is now considering USC, according to the recruiting site 247sports.com.

Hill is the fourth known recruit to de-commit from UW since the coaching change. One of those recruits, Marysville-Pilchuck running back Austin Joyner, is from the Class of 2015.

The Huskies have five committed recruits remaining for the Class of 2014, which is ranked last in the Pac-12 and No. 98 in the nation according to 247sports.com. National signing day is Feb. 5.

Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or ajude@seattletimes.com



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