Washington to face BYU at Fight Hunger Bowl

Marques Tuiasosopo is looking to get Washington back to a level

it hasn’t reached since he was the star quarterback more than a

decade ago.

Tuiasosopo leads the Huskies into the Fight Hunger Bowl against

BYU on Friday night as interim coach after a whirlwind month that

started with coach Steve Sarkisian leaving for Southern California

and Chris Petersen being hired away from Boise State.

Tuiasosopo moved up from quarterbacks coach to interim coach to

lead the Huskies (8-4) in their bowl preparation against BYU (8-4).

Washington is trying to win nine games in a season for the first

time since going 11-1 – capped by a Rose Bowl win over Purdue in

January 2001 with Tuiasosopo at quarterback.

”It’s been an awesome opportunity,” he said. ”It’s been a

great experience. It’s something new every day. I have a big

notebook of notes. It’s a tremendous honor to be at my alma mater

in this role. It’s priceless.”

It’s been a rough stretch at Washington since Tuiasosopo left

for the NFL, bottoming out with a winless season in 2008. Sarkisian

came in and started a rebuilding process that has led to four

straight bowl trips. But the Huskies had not won more than seven

games in a season under Sarkisian until this season.

Now they are hoping to use a bowl win to provide momentum for a

new era that will begin after this game when Petersen officially

takes over the program.

”It would mean a lot,” star running back Bishop Sankey said.

”The past few years we had winning seasons but struggled to get

over that seven-win hump. Now that we are over it, I think the nine

wins would do justice for this program and get us some more

attention.”

Here are five things to watch when BYU takes on Washington in

the Fight Hunger Bowl:

KYLE THE QB KILLER: BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy had another

stellar season with 16 tackles for a loss, four sacks, two

interceptions and two fumble recoveries. But he will have a tough

time topping last year’s bowl performance against San Diego State

in the Poinsettia Bowl. He had 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one

blocked kick, returned an interception for one touchdown and

recovered a fumble for another. That performance gave him some

well-deserved notoriety that carried over into this season.

”I don’t think many people know who our school was or I was,”

he said. ”It was a chance to prove to people that we can

play.”

BIG-PLAY BISHOP: Huskies running back Bishop Sankey was one of

the best in the country this season, leading the Pac-12 and ranking

third in the nation with 1,775 yards rushing. He doesn’t get as

much attention as some other backs like Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey and

Boston College’s Andre Williams but has not gone unnoticed by the

Cougars defense.

”He’s an excellent football player,” Van Noy said. ”He’s

fast, he’s quick-twitched and he can get the ball in the end zone.

You like that in a running back. I expect him to be a

handful.”

HILL’S A HANDFUL: BYU is led by a quarterback in Taysom Hill

that is putting up prolific numbers like the ones Tuiasosopo did as

a player. Hill ran for 1,211 yards and threw for 2,645, becoming

the first BYU player and 23rd ever to reach 1,000 yards rushing and

2,000 passing in the same season. Tuiasosopo called him a

”dynamic” dual-threat player but Hill says he’d rather be known

for his arm than his legs.

”I love to throw the football,” Hill said. ”If you’d ask me

if I want to throw or run for a touchdown, I’d say throw. That’s

still my tendency.”

PROFICIENT PRICE: One of the biggest reasons for Washington’s

improved success this season was better decision making from

quarterback Keith Price. After throwing 24 interceptions the

previous two years, Price had only five this season when his ratio

of 20 touchdown passes to interceptions was the best in school

history.

”Sometimes your desire to do something great is also the same

thing that hurts you,” Tuiasosopo said. ”He was fantastic all

year.”

FEMALE FIRST: Normally the goal of the officials is to go

unnoticed but that might be tough with a crew that will make

history. The bowl will be the first FBS game ever to have two

females on the officiating crew. Sarah Thomas will be the line

judge and Maia Chaka will be the head linesman based on their work

in Conference USA this season. Thomas was the first woman to work a

bowl game at the 2009 Little Caesars Bowl. This is Chaka’s first

bowl assignment.