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Sarkisian wary of Senior Night emotions

SARK

Update: Steve Sarkisian has announced on his Twitter page that Jake Locker has been medically cleared to play against UCLA.

MyNorthwest.com staff

Coach Steve Sarkisian is wary of the emotions that come with Senior Night, which will take place Thursday at Husky Stadium when Washington hosts UCLA in a nationally televised game on ESPN.

"I think that's one of the big challenges for us... this Thursday night," he said Tuesday on the Kevin Calabro show, "is trying to eliminate some of those emotions and saving them for after the game."

Listen to Steve Sarkisian

The most notable of Washington's 17 seniors is Jake Locker, whose status for Thursday's game has been in question due to a cracked rib that forced him to sit out the Huskies' loss to Oregon on Nov. 6.

Sarkisian said Locker has seemed healthy enough to play in practice but that doctors will make the ultimate call Tuesday evening. Sarkisian added that he may not immediately reveal the decision.

"I'll know definitively after practice," he said. "I'm just not sure when I'm going to share it with everybody."

Keith Price would start if Locker is unable to play.

"I'm planning... on having Jake Locker being our starting quarterback," Sarkisian said. "But on the other hand, we're planning on Keith Price playing for us. So it's been kind of double-duty for us getting these game plans prepared, but also getting the reps for each of those guys in practice to get them prepared to play."

UWblackuniThe Huskies will wear black jerseys and pants against UCLA as part of a Blackout theme that will also include black end zones.

"I think our kids are excited," Sarkisian said of wearing the all-black uniforms. "This was something that was obviously planned in the offseason. For our seniors, they've been through so much in their time here that I wanted to kind of give them a little bit of a going away gift, something that they can remember, an experience that they can cherish for the rest of their lives."

Whether that experience will include a win will depend on how well the Huskies can defend UCLA's pistol offense, which features a quarterback lined up about three yards behind center, directly in front of a running back.

Sarkisian explained the offense further:

"The origin of the pistol really is one that is a hybrid of a quarterback being under center and running the normal runs that you have with your quarterback under center - whether it be the zone play or the power play or the stretch play - combined with the shotgun run, zone read game where the back is offset next to the quarterback, working the zone read stuff."

Sarkisian said another key is stopping the run, which would put pressure on UCLA's quarterback Richard Brehaut, a sophomore who has thrown for over 200 yards just once in six games this season.

"They've got good coaches, too," Sarkisian said. "(Head coach Rick Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Norm Chow), they're going to have a nice game plan together. They're aware of the fact that our first goal on defense is to stop the run. So we've got to be prepared for the play-action pass and their ability to really throw it down the field over our heads. We've got to be smart, we've got to be sound, and we've got to tackle extremely well."

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