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Originally published Monday, October 3, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Bye comes at a good time for Huskies, according to coach Steve Sarkisian

The Washington Huskies, off to a 4-1 start, welcome a bye week, coach Steve Sarkisian says. "We are pretty beat up," Sarkisian said Monday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Oct. 15

Colorado @ UW,

12:30 p.m., ROOT Sports

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And now — after 29 days in which it went from a team that needed a relative miracle to beat Eastern Washington to one on the periphery of the Top 25 — Washington rests.

The Huskies' lone bye this season comes Saturday before they return to action Oct. 15 at Husky Stadium against Colorado.

And while the Huskies are coming off their best win of the year, a 31-14 victory at Utah, and at 4-1 overall and 2-0 in Pac-12 play are off to their best start since 2006, coach Steve Sarkisian says it's the perfect time to take a little break.

"We are pretty beat up," Sarkisian said Monday. "It may not have totally showed Saturday. But we are pretty beat up, and I think on a lot of fronts this will be good for us."

The Huskies will practice through Wednesday of this week, but some key players will be limited, notably quarterback Keith Price, who suffered sprains to each knee and an ankle in the first three games.

Price hurt his ankle against Utah, and while Sarkisian said the injury isn't serious it's another reason to let Price have some time off. Sarkisian said he always wants his quarterbacks to rest during bye weeks if possible, a chance to refresh their minds and bodies.

"Keith will get shut down, and it will be a good opportunity to get (backup) Nick (Montana) some real quality reps this week," Sarkisian said.

Sarkisian said the bye week will also allow coaches to review the first five games and do a "self-evaluation." Coaches will hit the road recruiting over the weekend.

Sarkisian said younger players who typically work on the scout team running the plays of that week's opponent will also get a lot of regular practice time this week.

"It's great because this is going to be a grind here after this weekend," he said. "We've got seven straight (games to end the season) and they are going to be physical ballgames."

It's a seven-game stretch that suddenly is full of promise for the Huskies, who have won eight of nine.

Washington will likely be a significant favorite against Colorado and at the moment would also likely be favored against Arizona at home, at Oregon State and against Washington State in the Apple Cup at CenturyLink Field.

Win those and the Huskies would have eight victories, a total they haven't reached since 2001.

Such an outlook might have seemed a little overly optimistic when the Huskies opened the season on Sept. 3 needing a last-minute interception to escape with a home win against Eastern Washington, a game in which the Eagles outgained the Huskies 504 yards to 250.

Asked what's changed since then, Sarkisian said: "We are playing faster, we are playing more tenacious football in all three phases. I felt like we were going through the motions against Eastern. I didn't like the way it looked, tasted, smelled, none of it. I couldn't stand it. But now when you watch us on film our team characterizes the things that I would want us to look like. We play hard, we play fast, we play physical. We may not always be right. We may not be perfect scheme-wise or athletically or fundamentally. But I do know we play hard."

Sarkisian wanted

Price, offense

to finish strong

Given Price's health and the fact that UW led 31-7, fans wondered why Price was still in the game when UW got the ball back with 7:37 remaining Saturday.

Sarkisian said he considered inserting Montana, who has yet to play, but decided he wanted to keep Price in the game and see if the Huskies could put together one more good drive.

"One of the challenges we talked about (during the week) was finishing the game on offense," Sarkisian said. "Our inability to do that a few ballgames this year could have potentially cost us the game. So it's been a big point of emphasis for us. So I wanted to keep Keith in the game for that reason, to keep that mindset that we need to finish games."

Notes

• Sarkisian said X-rays on the ankle of Kasen Williams — sprained at Utah on Saturday — were negative. Williams did some practicing Monday.

• The Oct. 15 game against Colorado will begin at 12:30 p.m. and be televised on ROOT Sports.

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

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