For much of the past month, Austin Seferian-Jenkins had been fielding more questions than catches. His production had dipped considerably, but the preseason All-American tight end had never let his frustration arise publicly.
In Washington’s rout of Colorado on Saturday night, in the Huskies’ first game without standout receiver Kasen Williams, Seferian-Jenkins again became a focal point of the UW offense, matching his season high with 62 receiving yards, all in the first half.
The Huskies got creative in getting the ball to the 6-foot-6, 276-pound Seferian-Jenkins. He lined up wide left as a wide receiver on UW’s first play of the game, and he hauled in a 15-yard touchdown from Keith Price on the final play from scrimmage in the first half to effectively put the game away.
“I really appreciate him trusting me and letting me go up and get it,” Seferian-Jenkins said of Price’s jump-ball pass.
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Coach Steve Sarkisian, as he has all season, also credited Seferian-Jenkins for “blocking his tail off” during another big day for Bishop Sankey, on pace to break UW’s single-season rushing record.
“He’s a talented guy, especially isolated one-on-one,” Sarkisian said of his junior tight end. “We had to get him more opportunities, and if the game hadn’t gone the way it did, he would have had more. We have some more tricks up our sleeve to get him the ball.”
With Williams gone for the season with a broken leg, more tricks, and more Seferian-Jenkins, will be surely needed on Friday night against No. 13 UCLA (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) in the Rose Bowl. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. for an ESPN2 broadcast.
Seferian-Jenkins has a team-high five touchdown receptions this season, after totaling 69 catches for 852 yards and seven touchdowns during his sophomore season in 2012. This year, he was suspended for the season opener after an offseason DUI, and broke his pinkie in August, which contributed to what many perceived as his slow start.
He has continually shrugged off any concern over his production, and has 23 catches for 306 yards.
“Just doing what I’ve been doing all season — playing hard and playing physical and taking advantage of my opportunities,” he said Saturday night. “I just feel the same. I guess I had a great game. I don’t know. …
“Just happy to have opportunities and be able to celebrate with my guys. When you see people having success all around you, it’s easy to have fun.”
The Huskies (6-3, 3-3 Pac-12) didn’t attempt a pass in the second half of their 59-7 win over Colorado (3-6, 0-6). The Huskies have amassed 600 yards of total offense in back-to-back games for this first time in school history, and they have four times this season gained more than 600 yards — after entering the season with a total of six 600-yard games in program history.
Against Cal and Colorado, the Huskies have converted those 1,270 yards the past two games into 100 points. Those gaudy numbers came against two teams that are a combined 0-13 in Pac-12 play, but the feel-good victories have helped to distance UW from consecutive losses to Stanford, Oregon and Arizona State last month.
“It feels a lot better, coming off two wins in a row now,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “It feels good. We had a little three-game skid right there, but now we’re back here; we’re 6-3 and we got a great opportunity (this) week.”
Former UW coach Don James has been nominated as a finalist for the Rose Bowl Game’s All-Century Class as a representative from the 1980s. John Robinson and Bo Schembechler are the other nominees. The All-Century Class will be announced Dec. 8.
Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.