By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
SEATTLE — In the tradition of University of Washington football, it’s known as Husky Weather. That is, wind and rain common to the Pacific Northwest, and bothersome to a warm-weather team like Arizona, the opponent on Saturday night.
Of course, Husky Weather typically shows up later in the season — late October and November, as a rule — and not in late September.
But despite a swirling wind and pelting rain that made passing, catching and holding onto the football a challenge, Washington did enough things well to come away with an impressive 31-13 victory over the Wildcats in the Pacific-12 Conference opener for both teams.
Some of the California-bred players on the UW roster said they had never played in weather like this, among them linebacker Shaq Thompson and cornerback Marcus Peters.
“I feel like (the rain) is to our advantage,” Thompson said. “But it’s football, so the weather really doesn’t matter. Rain, snow, it’s still just football.”
“We were watching it at the hotel when it was coming down (earlier on Saturday),” Peters said. “We love the weather when (the rain) is coming down and when we love it when the sun is shining.” Because regardless, he said, “you just have to adapt and play football.”
Another California native, wide receiver Kevin Smith, said the weather “was crazy, man. I was going in motion (before the snap) and it was all just hitting my face. But we played through it. It happens in practice, so it doesn’t matter what the weather is. … I had fun out there.”
Wildcats quarterback B.J. Denker, also a Californian, said it was his “first experience … with the rain being as strong as it was, with the wind being as strong as it was, and it being cold at the same time.”
In the first half, Denker said, “the rain was coming down hard. It was cold and the ball was slippery, so the first half was the worst.”
Washington unveiled a new look for its home uniform — or at least a look that hasn’t been seen in more than two decades.
The Huskies wore purple jerseys and purple pants for the first time since hosting Colorado in the 1989 season. Adding to the unique look, Washington unveiled what are called “chrome” helmets, with gold paint that is very shiny, almost like a mirror.
One of the UW stars in Saturday’s game was punter Travis Coons, who overcame soggy, slippery footballs to make a big contribution to Washington’s win. Coons punted five times and dropped each one inside the Arizona 20-yard line.
“Travis was awesome,” said UW coach Steve Sarkisian. “It was just an amazing effort by him punting the football. … The ball gets wet and it gets heavy. And there were some tough catches (on long, sometimes wayward center snaps).
“To catch the ball and punt it the way he was doing, I thought it was a really good effort by him,” Sarkisian said.
Tough after turnovers
UW quarterback Keith Price’s first-quarter interception was Washington’s fifth turnover of the season. But the good news is, the Huskies have yet to allow a point in four games following those turnovers.
Former Seattle Mariner star Ken Griffey Jr. was at Saturday’s game to watch his son Trey, who is a backup wide receiver for the Wildcats. Unfortunately Trey Griffey, a redshirt freshman, did not play.