Steve Sarkisian understands that bowl trips are supposed to be a fun experience for college football players.
But the setting for the Washington Huskies' Holiday Bowl escape is sunny San Diego. And fun has its limits.
"We're going to leave their passports at home. That's for sure," Sarkisian deadpanned.
Sarkisian doesn't anticipate any shenanigans from his Huskies players, who are experiencing a bowl trip for the first time.
Although his team's stay in San Diego will include many side trips to attractions such as SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo, Sarkisian senses his players are more focused on the mission at hand of trying to avenge an early-season whipping to bowl-seasoned Nebraska (10-3) before a national television audience on Dec. 30 at Qualcomm Stadium.
"I think for our guys, there's plenty of fun to be had with the experiences that the bowl game offers with some of the time that they'll have," Sarkisian said after Thursday night's practice at the Dempsey Indoor facility. "But ultimately this football team's hungry to go win a game."
The Huskies (6-6) returned to practice Thursday after taking the week off for semester finals. The team will continue to hold daily practices on campus each day through Monday. After two more days off, the Huskies will depart for San Diego Dec. 23 then resume practice on Christmas Eve at the University of San Diego.
Sarkisian said he learned this bowl practice formula during his seven seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Southern California, where the team reached a bowl game all seven years.
"This formula that we're using has got a lot of wins under its belt in bowl games," Sarkisian said. "We're at a place right now where these guys are believing in what we're doing. And they understand why we're doing what we're doing. And we continue to have to education them to get to the point of why this format of the three practices early to a game plan week, to a few days off to travel, then doing a work week all over again is successful. But ultimately they're believing in what we're doing and that's the best thing you can ask for as a coach."
Dawg bites: Coping with the loss of starting defensive tackle Semisi Toklahi to a broken ankle, the Huskies have moved defensive end Everrette Thompson to the inside beside Alameda Ta'amu. The first-unit ends are now DeShon Matthews and Hau'oli Jamora.
At practice Thursday, junior wide receiver Devin Aguilar hauled in bullet pass by Jake Locker with one hand, then bolted down the sideline, igniting a loud roar of approval from teammates. One player bowed down to Aguilar in the end zone.