Let's take a close look at what the program will be doing during the bye week.
1. Get Healthy
The biggest thing you do during a bye week is simply rest your regular players and take some time to get them healthy. The laundry list of injuries gets pretty long this time of year. Most of these injuries aren't enough to keep players out of a game but it does effect their performance. A week off without contact does wonders for getting your regulars fresh.
Jake Locker (Quad), EJ Savannah (Hand), Nate Williams, Mason Foster, Donald Butler, Chris Polk (Shoulder, Ankle), Cameron Elisara (Stingers), Nick Wood (Stingers), Quinton Richardson (Ankle), and Daniel Teo Nesheim are all candidates for extensive time off this week.
2. Work on Jake Locker's mechanics
Jake has regressed over the past few weeks. One can say a lot of it is due to pressure and that is true, but one look in his eyes at the line of scrimmage tells you he has been flustered at times. The game needs to slow down more for him.
Like any QB Jake tosses the ball better when he throws off his front foot. When Jake throws off the back foot the ball tends to sail on him. Screen passes have been a big problem for him. Rarely does he hit the receiver on a screen on the correct target. When the receiver has to jump up, reach down, or lunge sideways for the ball it ruins the timing of the play.
The coaches also need to figure out a way to get Jake's legs back into the game plan. I think everyone agree's that the coaching staff has not done a very good job using the biggest weapon on the team. I agree that the Pro Set is best in the long term but they need to mix it up more and free up Jake.
While Jake is taking this week off for the most part that won't include time in the film room.
3. Identify who can help you during the stretch run
Bye week is like the Rose Bowl for the Scout team players. Typically the coaches look closer at those guys and try to indentify who they can coach up over th enext two weeks to contribute during the last four game sof the season. It is also the time the final mental notes are made for next season concerning who can help you and who needs to move on to make room for the next recruiting class.
Just for example Jordan Wallace is a kid that has been playing on special teams all season. This is the week that he will get a lot of time at OLB to see if his freshness factor can help out in the last quarter playing beyond that role. EJ Savannah's nickname this season should be the fugitive. He has been playing with one arm for a long time. Cort Dennison has done a great job filling in for him at times but Wallace is a kid with speed they need to take a closer look at.
4. Position changes
You can't very easily make position changes on the fly during the season. During a bye week you can sometimes move somebody from offense to defense of vice versa who can help you fill a glaring hole. Safety comes to mind as a place where the depth has been thinned because of injuries. We really don't expect anything earth shattering on this subject.
5. Play calling and game management
This is the perfect time for the coaches to experiment and rework their playbook and philosophy on both sides of the ball. Changes are seldom dramatic but Washington really needs to take a close look at their goal line offense and special teams. They also need to figure out a way to use Jake Lockers legs more over the next four games.
Sark also needs to take a deep look inwards and do a better job managing the clock. He has a lot of experience running an offense and you wouldn't think this would have emerged as such a glaring problem. He needs to gamble less in obvious situations and start playing the averages.
On the defensive and special teams side they need to encourage their players to call a timeout when things don't look right. Washington made poor use of its timeouts against the Ducks.
One thing this staff hasn't done all season is run a trick play. Why not gamble early in the game with a kid like Cody Bruns who can throw the ball?
The Huskies will practice on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Expect a majority of the coaching staff to be on planes the later part of the week. The Huskies have twenty spots filled with approximately ten more to go by signing day. Typically you can expect most of those spots to be filled by Christmas.
Recruiting has gone well this season but the staff still has some big holes to fill on the offensive and defensive line. The catch phrase where's the beef has never meant as much as it does right now at Washington. I expect a good portion of that beef to come from Hawaii and it wouldn't surprise if Johnny Nansen is over in the Islands this week.
7. Spiritual Healing
As Sarkisan said in his press conference Monday this is a fragile group of players mentally and physically. The season has gone the way most experts predicted but along the way there were two very stinging losses that should have been wins. Last weeks game against Oregon was a real good indication of where this team is right now. They are worn out, shallow, and pretty nicked up. Teams don't play their best even with great effort under those conditions. As Nick Holt would out it this is a week where they need to love these guys up to prepare them for the four remaining games.