Huskies’ Seferian-Jenkins does double duty

SEATTLE — Austin Seferian-Jenkins will continue this week to refine moves in order to free himself of two opposition players at once. He’ll just be doing it out of a three-point stance.

During last week’s 34-15 win over Utah, Seferian-Jenkins, already the best tight end in Huskies history as a sophomore, was inserted on third down to rush the passer as a defensive end.

It was a surprise move from head coach Steve Sarkisian, largely necessitated by injuries and a general lack of a pass rush. Washington is tied with Colorado for 10th in the conference in sacks with a paltry 17. That’s just two ahead of last-place Arizona.

Defensive end Talia Crichton missed the game because of an injury as did defensive tackle Josh Banks.

So, as a part-time solution, Sarkisian dispatched Seferian-Jenkins to the right side of the defensive line Saturday, but only on third down. That moved end Andrew Hudson inside and put Josh Shirley on the opposite side.

“I thought he was relatively successful at doing that in the game,” Sarkisian said. “Obviously he didn’t just beat the tackle and sack the quarterback, but he allowed us to move Hudson down inside to do some things from getting more speed on the field and utilizing that … I think that helped Andrew and he got a sack later in the ball game because of that.”

All year, Sarkisian has refrained from using linebacker Shaq Thompson on offense despite feeling Thompson’s athletic gifts would make him a good running back. Even earlier in the season when it was not clear that Bishop Sankey would rumble to the quality year he is having, Sarkisian resisted, saying he would not jeopardize the success of the defense by making the move.

But, he’s chosen to take the risk with Seferian-Jenkins, who is the school’s all-time leader in receptions by a tight end and was named one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award, which goes to the nation’s best tight end, on Monday.

“We know this is a violent sport,” Sarkisian said. “But guys can get injured doing stuff that there is nobody around them and we saw that early in the season, so I am not as concerned. It’s not as if he’s in there taking on run blocks and different things and he’s not in on goal line. He’s in there on obvious passing downs where he’s rushing the passer, so if we are coaching afraid to get hurt then we are afraid to lose, too.”

Seferian-Jenkins said Saturday he has no problem with the move and his focus now is to get better at the position. He’s improved all other aspects of his game already this season.

His 55 catches and 731 yards in 10 games are already ahead of last year’s totals of 41 and 538. Seferian-Jenkins struggled with his blocking earlier in the season, but Sarkisian says that has been much improved the past two weeks.

“I don’t know who is playing better right now than him at that position around the country,” Sarkisian said. “I just know what he is doing and he is playing at a high level.”

In fall camp, Seferian-Jenkins said he needed to be better this season at discarding negative plays, whether it’s a drop, a missed block or just not getting the ball often early in the game. That’s an ongoing battle, but one Sarkisian says Seferian-Jenkins has begun to win.

So, don’t be surprised to see No. 88 on a three-point stance with a white towel dangling from his hip Saturday in Boulder, Colo. Arguably the country’s best tight end will be hunting for his first sack to add to his list of accomplishments this year.

“I don’t think it’s ever just going to go away,” Sarkisian said. “It’s got to fit the game plan and who we’re playing and what we’re doing.”

Extra Points

Sarkisian said defensive lineman Pio Vatuvei is probably done for the season. He did not specify Vatuvei’s injury. … Sarkisian also said that they will have to re-evaluate cornerback Desmond Trufant as the week goes along. He left Saturday’s game early after re-aggrivating a hamstring injury. “We’ll see. Anytime you’re dealing with a hamstring … It’s not the severity where I can come out and say he’s out for the next two weeks. But it’s enough that it bothers him. Hopefully we can get him more healthy this week than he was going into the game last week.” … LB Princeton Fuimaono will also be out a couple weeks, according to Sarkisian. … The University of Washington reprimanded the News Tribune for excessive tweeting and game-thread blog coverage of a live event following Sunday night’s Huskies men’s basketball game. The university introduced a new policy prior to this football season which put in place a recommended cap on the number of updates (20 for basketball, 45 for football) that can be made during live events. The policy states: “If UW deems that a Credential Holder is producing a real-time description of the contest, UW reserves all actions against Credential Holder, including but not limited to the revocation of the credential.”

More in Sports

Monroe football’s historic season ends with loss to Sumner

The Spartans’ big second half hands the Bearcats a 56-14 4A state quarterfinals loss.

Lake Stevens’ Eason is The Herald’s Volleyball Player of the Year

The Seattle University-bound senior setter was a stabilizing presence for the Vikings.

Huskies rally to beat Utah on last-second field goal

No. 16 Washington scores 10 points in the last minute to stun Utah 33-30.

Saturday’s prep postseason results

FOOTBALL 4A State Tournament Nov. 18 Quarterfinals Central Valley 41, Skyline 0… Continue reading

The Herald’s 2017 All-Area High School Volleyball Team

Related: Lake Stevens senior Lilly Eason is The Herald’s 2017 Volleyball Player… Continue reading

King’s girls soccer team wins 1A state championship

The Knights outlasted Cascade (Leavenworth) in a shootout to post a 2-1 (8-7 PK) victory.

Seahawks won’t abandon sickly run game, Carroll says

Seattle has the NFL’s 32nd-ranked rushing offense.

No. 17 Gonzaga beats Utah State 79-66

Killian Tilllie scores 20 points and King’s alum Corey Kispert adds 12 in the victory.

Archbishop Murphy’s Ray Pimentel, right, attempts a stiff arm on North Kitsap’s Kyle Green Friday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Snohomish on November 17, 2017. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Archbishop Murphy fends off North Kitsap in state matchup

Top-ranked Wildcats ride big plays, timely defense to beat Vikings 28-21 in football playoff. (Video)

Most Read