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Sarkisian not accepting distractions, Huskies prepare for Stanford

Sark.

Sark. -

Steve Sarkisian’s name has been linked to the head coaching vacancy at USC, but the UW head coach said neither he nor his representatives have been contacted for the job and he considers himself “thankful” and “proud” to be part of the UW community.

Photo by Andrew Tat

In light of USC firing football coach Lane Kiffin on Saturday and the rumors going around about Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian jumping ship back to Los Angeles, the UW coach said neither he nor his representatives have been contacted about the vacancy at USC.

“I have great respect for USC and the great history and tradition that they have, but I’m proud to be the head coach of the 15th-ranked team in America right now,” Sarkisian said at his weekly press conference. “And all the hard work that we’ve put into this program for the last five years to get to the point, to be in an awesome matchup on national television on Saturday night against a national championship contender in Stanford, and that’s where my focus is.”

Sarkisian came to the UW straight from USC after working under former USC head coach Pete Carroll, and was friends with Kiffin. He said his first thoughts upon hearing the news of Kiffin’s dismissal went out to Kiffin’s family. He talked to the team about his link to USC on Monday at their meeting, but does not see it as a distraction.

“We’ve been on this zero-distraction mantra since the offseason,” Sarkisian said. “This is a great chance for us to show and to prove that there really are zero distractions. We’re focused on the task at hand and the task is a big one, and that’s playing Stanford.”

So, speaking of Stanford.

After last Saturday’s 31-13 victory over Arizona, the Huskies are up to No. 15 in the AP poll, which sets up a nationally-televised, prime-time matchup of top 15 teams for this Saturday between the Huskies and No. 5 Stanford. The UW is also up to No. 18 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

The Huskies shocked Stanford last season, knocking off the eighth-ranked Cardinal at CenturyLink Field behind an opportunistic defense and a few standout plays on offense, but Sarkisian said Monday that the upcoming matchup is already shaping up to be a different story.

“In my opinion, they’re a much better football team today than they were a year ago,” the head coach said. “They have a lot more variety on the offensive side of the ball with the quarterback, their ability to throw the ball down field. Defensively, a veteran group, especially up front, with playmakers on the back end. So we have our work cut out for us.”

Last week, the Cardinal shellacked Washington State at CenturyLink Field and surprised the Cougars with an offense that was surprisingly effective through the air. Quarterback Kevin Hogan was 16-of-25 through the air for a career-high 286 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. All three of Hogan’s touchdowns came from passes that were longer than 30 yards.

Note:

The UW’s matchup with Oregon on Oct. 12 is scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Husky Stadium, and it will be televised on Fox Sports 1. If the Huskies beat Stanford on Saturday, it’s extremely likely that ESPN’s College GameDay will make the trek to Seattle for the game. The UW announced that the Oregon game will also be a “blackout,” meaning the team will likely debut its new black helmets.

Reach Sports Editor Thuc Nhi Nguyen at sports@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @thucnhi21

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