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Originally published November 4, 2013 at 7:51 PM | Page modified November 4, 2013 at 9:02 PM

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Huskies don’t want to be Colorado’s first victim

Steve Sarkisian says he sees no reason why his team won’t play well

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The similarities were clear for Steve Sarkisian as he watched the Seattle Seahawks struggle to beat winless Tampa Bay at home Sunday afternoon.

Sarkisian’s Washington Huskies, coming off a bye, meet a Colorado team Saturday that is winless in Pac-12 Conference play. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. at Husky Stadium for a broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.

“They’re a team that’s playing hard, and they’re trying to find that one to get over the hump in conference play,” Sarkisian said Monday. “We just gotta make sure we’re not the one. …

“Luckily, the Seahawks were able to get out of it with a victory, and we’d like to go out and perform to where we get a victory on Saturday.”

The bye, Sarkisian said, gave UW coaches and players time to rest, refresh and recruit.

After a rough 1-3 October, the four weeks ahead, he said, will define this season for the Huskies (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12). After playing the Buffaloes (3-5, 0-5), Washington travels to UCLA and Oregon State in back-to-back weeks before wrapping up the regular season at home in the Apple Cup the day after Thanksgiving.

Monday, UW players were given a black, long-sleeve T-shirt with “Finish!” in purple letters. The message, Sarkisian said, is clear.

“They understand what’s in front of them,” he said. “They understand that there are some unique challenges here. Each one of these games will be different, but that we’re capable of doing it. I see no reason why we won’t. I think we’re going to play great football.”

Charles returns

Sophomore Dexter Charles, a two-year starter at left guard, returned to practice Monday morning, Sarkisian said. Charles has missed the past two games with a shoulder injury.

“We’re getting healthy,” Sarkisian said. “Getting Dexter back was big.”

Sarkisian reiterated that true freshman Damore’ea Stringfellow is first in line to replace junior receiver Kasen Williams, who is out for the season with leg and foot injuries.

Stringfellow also will replace senior receiver Kevin Smith as the No. 2 kick returner. Sarkisian said the Huskies don’t want to risk Smith getting hurt on special teams.

Sophomore receiver Marvin Hall will take over for Williams as UW’s primary punt returner.

Recruiting update

Every UW coach was able to make a trip to scout recruits late last week, said Sarkisian, who visited California.

The Huskies have nine verbal commitments for the Class of 2014, the fewest of anyone in the Pac-12 other than USC, which has eight commitments as it continues its search to find Lane Kiffin’s replacement.

The Huskies are expected to have fewer scholarships available than during a typical recruiting cycle, so coaches likely need to be more diligent with whom they offer a scholarship.

Asked about recruiting Monday, Sarkisian shrugged and looked at his watch.

“It’s Nov. 4,” he said. “Recruiting is an ongoing process. We got three months, and three months is like an eternity in the recruiting process. So we’re staying the course. I think we’re on the right kids, the right type of kids, whether it’s athletically or character-wise.

“This day and age, you gotta ask me that first Wednesday in February. These guys commit, decommit, commit — they jump all over the place. So we just want to stay the course and keep doing a good job from building a relationship with the kids and their families.”

Verbal commitments are nonbinding. National signing day is Feb. 5, 2014.

Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or On Twitter: @a_jude.

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