Arizona football preps to face raucous crowd in Washington
File Photo/ Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA Quarterback B.J. Denker celebrates after running for a touchdown against UTSA on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013.
Arizona football has many preparations to make for the Pac-12 Conference opening game against the Washington Huskies this Saturday. One in particular is ignoring distractions.
Washington spent $280 million on renovations to Husky Stadium. The changes included removing the track that surrounded the stadium, which brought seats closer to the sidelines. The new seating capacity is about 70,000.
Head coach Rich Rodriguez said there is no doubt that the crowd will be loud on Saturday.
In Monday’s press conference, Rodriguez said the coaching staff does its best to prepare the squad for the distractions they will face. This includes simulating crowd noises during practices.
Senior quarterback B.J. Denker said he has heard stories about Husky Stadium from teammates who have played there. According to Denker, they have all said it’s the loudest stadium they’ve played at.
“We anticipate it being nuts,” Denker said. “We’ve been working on silent counts and playing with our speakers.”
Denker will be making his second start on the road.
“I personally like playing on the road more than at home, for the simple fact that you silence a crowd, I think that’s the craziest thing as a competitor,” Denker said.
Sophomore linebacker Sir Thomas Jackson said he is looking forward to playing in Husky Stadium.
Jackson comes to Arizona from O’Dea High School in the Seattle area. Besides the time his youth football team played on the field at Husky Stadium, this will be Jackson’s first time competing there.
Jackson said his family, friends and even his high school coach will be in the stands on Saturday.
“I’ve had this written on my schedule for two years now,” Jackson said.
The last game Jackson attended at Husky Stadium was when he was a junior in high school. It was Washington against then No. 3 USC, when the Huskies upset the Trojans 16-13.
“It was so loud,” Jackson said. “I couldn’t hear myself talking.”
Although the atmosphere will be intense, Rodriguez joked that it’s just a football game—the players aren’t going to have guns and knives.
Rodriguez said he helps keep his nerves at bay by remembering something receiver and former College Football Hall of Fame nominee Chris George said, while Rodriguez was coaching at Glenville State. During warm-ups for the NAIA semi-final, Rodriguez said he couldn’t even watch — he was more nervous than anyone. But George said something that stuck with Rodriguez: “Coach, don’t worry about it — they can’t eat us.”
— Follow Scarlett McCourt @scarlettnoelani