Arizona preparing for hostile welcome at Husky Stadium

TUCSON, Ariz. — Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian said Husky Stadium “is going to be rocking environment” on Saturday afternoon when Arizona visits.

If that’s all it is, then Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez is OK with it. He acknowledges that the No. 16 Huskies (3-0) will be a formidable challenge, especially in their home stadium. But he and his teams have been in these situations before.

“It’s not like the old Roman days,” Rodriguez said with a chuckle. “They are not going to have guns and knives. Our lives aren’t going to be at stake. It’s a football game. I hear it’s pretty loud. I have two-(eared) headsets, (so) I’ll be hearing nothing but Coach (Calvin) McGee and Coach (Rod) Smith. They are not going to eat us, are they?”

Well, the Washington student body is in class for the first time this week, so it might depend on the meal plan. A sellout or near there (70,000) are expected as the Huskies try to avenge a 52-17 defeat last year in Tucson.

“It’s going to be nuts,” Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker said of his expectations.

Running back Daniel Jenkins, a fifth-year senior, remembers the environment from Arizona’s last visit to Seattle — a 42-31 loss in 2011.

“It’s a great environment in Seattle,” he said. “It’ll be a good test for our young guys who haven’t played in a hostile environment like that. I’m hoping our senior leadership will focus in and get everyone on the same page.”

Arizona had a bye last week, and Rodriguez used the time to pipe in loud music and make things as difficult as possible for the Wildcats. Silent counts have been implemented.

“Personally, I like playing on the road more than at home,” Denker said, “for the simple fact you can silence the crowd. That’s the craziest thing as a competitor.”

Sophomore linebacker Sir Thomas Jackson has had this game circled on his personal schedule for two years. He’s from Seattle and making his first trip back home for a game. The last time he was in Husky Stadium as a fan, Washington defeated USC.

“I couldn’t hear myself talk to (a friend right next to him), so that’s how loud it is,” Jackson said. “I had to tell these guys.”
‘The Leap’ turns 15

This year marks the 15th year by the infamous “Leap by the Lake,” in which Arizona quarterback Ortege Jenkins scored on a head-over-heels flip to give the Wildcats a 31-28 victory as time expired.

“I know it’s a huge piece of Arizona football history,” said Denker. “I love it because being a mobile quarterback, I like to dive in the end zone as much as I can. It’s a crazy play.

“Hopefully, we can re-create some of that magic and get a win over there.”
Richards getting close

Arizona’s receiving group might get a boost this weekend from sophomore David Richards. He had foot surgery in the spring and has slowly worked his way back. His anticipated return was mid-September, so he’s bit behind schedule. But Rodriguez said if Richards practices well and feels good over the next two days, he’ll be available to play against Washington.

“He’s not full go right now,” Rodriguez said. “He did more (Sunday) than he had done.”

Richards, a big receiver at 6-foot-4, caught 29 passes for 298 yards last season.