Austin Seferian-Jenkins ready to put suspension behind him
The No. 20 Huskies are, no doubt, excited about the offensive possibilities with the return of the preseason All-American tight end against Illinois next week. UW racked up 592 yards of total offense against Boise State while playing without Seferian-Jenkins.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Washington @ Illinois, 3 p.m., Big Ten Network
The suspended tight end had veered too far into the end zone to join teammates in celebration of a touchdown catch by his backup, Josh Perkins.
The No. 20 Huskies (1-0) are, no doubt, just as excited about the offensive possibilities with the return of the preseason All-American tight end against Illinois next week. UW unveiled its hurry-up offense in a 38-6 rout of Boise State in Saturday’s season opener, racking up 592 yards of total offense while playing without its biggest weapon, the 6-foot-6, 276-pound Seferian-Jenkins.
“For us to put up those numbers, and to look that much better without Austin playing, it’s kind of crazy,” UW receiver Kasen Williams said. “This is his first game back, so we’ll see how much better we look.”
Seferian-Jenkins needs to get back in shape first.
“I’m not where I want to be — yet,” he said after practice Wednesday. “But today I feel like I was running with the first team just as good as everyone else. … I can be in excellent shape by next Thursday (when the Huskies depart for Chicago). I’ll be in top gear by then.”
UW coach Steve Sarkisian suspended Seferian-Jenkins for one game after the star tight end pleaded guilty to a drunken-driving charge in July.
“I’m ready to just move on,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “I think everyone here has moved on. I think the guys on the team have moved on, and everyone else has moved on. That’s the most important — what the guys on the team think and what the coaching staff thinks. All we’re thinking about is getting better every day. That’s a thing in the past now, and we’re looking forward to tomorrow … and winning as many games as possible this season.”
Seferian-Jenkins had a pin surgically inserted into his broken right pinkie on Aug. 15, but he said he is now going through practices without any concern about the injury.
“It’s just a little sore here and there, but it’s fine,” he said. “I’m catching the ball, blocking people, so it’s an afterthought.”
Deontae Cooper’s father has made the drive from southern California to Seattle each of the past three years to support his son at the start of another college football season.
Last week, Willie Cooper made the trip and finally got to see his son in a game for the Huskies.
“For the first time, he could actually come up here and watch me play, rather than come up here and take care of me after surgery,” said Deontae Cooper, UW’s redshirt junior running back. “… It was definitely a blessing.”
After three major knee injuries in three years, Cooper completed his comeback against Boise State on Saturday during the reopening of Husky Stadium. Appearing in a game for the first time at UW, he had six carries for 8 yards in the Huskies’ victory.
“It was special, man. It was special,” he said. “The excitement that fans had, teammates, coaches had for me to get out there and play, it was special.”
Cooper said he was “a little sore” on Sunday after his first live game action since his senior year of high school in 2009.
“Not too bad,” he said. “Six carries, 8 yards — definitely room for improvement. But that’s why we come out here and continue to get better.”
• Even after holding Boise State without a touchdown, UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox this week bemoaned the Huskies’ 17 missed tackles. “We need to emphasize (tackling) more, so that’s 100 percent my fault,” he said. Sarkisian said the Huskies have done just that in practices this week, and he was encouraged by the improvement during tackling drills on Wednesday. He was impressed overall by the players’ spirits and effort. “For a Wednesday on a bye week, I couldn’t have asked for more,” Sarkisian said.
Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @a_jude