By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — The last time UCLA played Washington in football, Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel heard plenty of boos in his return to Husky Stadium.
This weekend, it’s the other coach who might be getting a chilly reception.
UW coach Steve Sarkisian will be coaching against his former coach and mentor in UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow. While the pair worked closely together at BYU and USC, the relationship appears to have frayed over time.
Chow has repeatedly denied interview requests regarding Sarkisian, including one from The Herald over the summer.
While he has never publicly spoken of a rift, The Orange County Register reported last year that the former USC assistants — Sarkisian was a quarterbacks coach when Chow was the Trojans’ offensive coordinator — grew apart when Sarkisian took Chow’s former position after a year working with the Oakland Raiders.
“I don’t think it was a falling-out so much as we went our separate ways,” Sarkisian told The Register before the USC-UCLA game last season. “Now we’re at rival schools.”
On Monday, Sarkisian had only positive things to say about the man under whom he once played (at BYU) and coached (at USC).
“His track record speaks for itself, and the guys that he has developed,” Sarkisian said. “I was fortunate enough to play for him, and work with him, and I think he has shaped a lot of the areas in the way I coach our guys. I’ve been very fortunate for that.’’
Sarkisian added that, in a football sense, the matchup between Chow and former USC defensive coordinator Nick Holt could be an interesting one this week.
“I think there is a little bit of that gamesmanship going on,” Sarkisian said. “Nick and Norm went against each other for some years at SC, and there is obviously some similarities to what they do offensively to what we do offensively. It’ll be interesting to watch kind of the chess match that takes place.”
Savannah unlikely to play
Sarkisian said that starting linebacker E.J. Savannah had surgery on his broken thumb and is likely to sit out this week’s game.
“I’d be surprised if he could go Saturday, but I’ve seen stranger things,” Sarkisian said. “We’ll assess him as the days go by, but he’s very doubtful.”
Cort Dennison is likely to make his second start of the season in Savannah’s place.
Sarkisian said he has not counted Savannah out for the UCLA game, but he is targeting the following Saturday’s game at Oregon State as a more likely goal.
“Realistically-speaking, it would probably be advantageous for him to not go this week and then be able to go versus Oregon State,” Sarkisian said.
Boyles staying on D
After a one-week tryout at cornerback, former wide receiver Anthony Boyles appears likely to stay at the position — for now.
Sarkisian said Monday that the switch was “permanent for this week,’’ adding that Boyles could see time at cornerback in Saturday’s game against UCLA.
Boyles, a redshirt freshman from Compton, Calif., had yet to catch a pass as part of a deep receiving corps. So he took the coaches up on an offer to switch to defense, where his 6-foot-3 frame could prove to be an asset.
“We are just in the infancy stages of putting this game plan together,” Sarkisian said, “so how Anthony fits — is it a specific situation? maybe matching him up with a specific receiver? or just the base defense? — remains to be seen.’’
Sarkisian said that, other than quarterback Jake Locker and Savannah, the Huskies appear to be pretty healthy heading into the week. Defensive tackle Cameron Elisara and defensive end Kalani Aldrich returned from injuries, while only a handful of players were still sitting out. Wide receiver Jordan Polk (knee) appears unlikely to play against UCLA, while reserve offensive lineman Mykenna Ikehara (knee), defensive lineman Everette Thompson (illness) and defensive tackle De’Shon Matthews (unknown) were also sidelined by injuries. … The bye week gave coaches an extended look at some of the young players who have been trying to break into the rotation. Sarkisian said that running back Demitrius Bronson, linebacker Jordan Wallace and defensive end Andru Pulu — all freshmen — could see more playing time over the final four weeks of the season, as could junior transfer Dorson Boyce, a tight end from New York City.