The shaven Seferian-Jenkins after practice Wednesday. He feels in shape to keep pace with UW’s fast offense Saturday in his 2013 debut.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins not only sounds ready to make his season debut. He looks it.
Last week upon his return from a week on the sideline and from a broken right little finger he admitted he wasn’t yet in condition for the Huskies’ go-go, no-huddle offense.
Wednesday, the preseason All-American tight end declared he’s fit to keep up with his 19th-ranked Dawgs (1-0) Saturday in Chicago against Illinois (2-0) at Soldier Field.
He looked sleeker, even beyond his previously bushy hair being freshly cut almost skin tight.
"Mom said I had to get a haircut," he said with a smile.
Seferian-Jenkins wasn’t wearing a wrap or a glove over his right hand immediately following the two-hour practice in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts at Husky Stadium. Asked how his finger is now, he sounded almost as if he’d forgotten he had a pin placed in it last month.
"Oh, it’s fine. I was catching the ball out there, blocking It’s an afterthought. It doesn’t hurt," he said. "Everyone overplayed that. It’s just a pinkie."
He says his conditioning “is pretty close to where I want it to be. It’s not like I’m worried about it, like I was last Monday. It’s kind of just pushing through like everyone else now.
"I’m excited to be back and running with the first team."
He said he’s had some “whoa” moments trying to merge into the fast lane where Keith Price and the Huskies offense have been zooming. Washington ran 52 plays in the first half of its opening win over Boise State. That was one fewer than the amount new coach Chip Kelly and his Philadelphia Eagles ran in their first half the other night, when the world was marveling over them.
Coach Steve Sarkisian thinks UW can go faster.
"When I first got back (last week) I was like, ‘Whoa! This is going really, really fast,’" Seferian-Jenkins said. "The first day, I couldn’t really hang with it. I was having a tough time. But then I got used to it. When I first got back from the injury I was like, ‘Whoa, thing thing has increased by about three or four times (the speed) when I left.’
"That’s my job to get up to speed. And I think I am there now."
The possibilities seem exciting for an offense that put up 38 points and 592 yards without its top threat down the middle of the field against Boise State.
As Price said following the Boise State win: “Once he gets back, it’s going to be kind of scary.”
Sarkisian said he plans on using his three freshmen wide receivers more Saturday against the Illini. He specified more kick returns for John Ross, the desire for more touches of the ball for Damore’ea Stringfellow on offense and more special-teams work for Darrell Daniels.
The coach also thought Saturday will provide chances for more snaps for freshman defensive back Kevin King.
The officiating crew listed for Saturday’s game is from the Big Ten Conference. Referee Jerry McGinn worked January’s Rose Bowl as an official from the Big East, before the Big Ten hired him.
The Pac-12 has a new agreement for non-conference games that puts its officials on games when league schools are on the road. But UW athletic director Scott Woodward says he believes the Huskies are getting Big Ten officials at Illinois because the contract for this home-and-home series with the Illini was completed before the Pac-12’s new arrangement.