Can Steve Sarkisian avoid another 7-6 season?

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Washington under Steve Sarkisian has been nothing if not consistent during the three season preceding 2013.

After going 5-7 in 2009 in his first year as head coach in Seattle, Sarkisian’s Huskies finished 7-6 in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

But 2013 seems different. Or at least it seemed different.

It wasn’t just Washington’s 4-0 start that pointed to the likelihood of a Huskies breakout out from its 7-6 gulag. It was also the way UW looked in beating Boise State and Illinois. The Huskies played fast and furious on both sides of the ball and appeared to be ready to return to the national scene.

Even consecutive losses to Stanford and Oregon the past two weeks provided evidence that Washington was on the rebound. The Huskies competed hard and took both elite teams into the fourth quarter before folding.

But Washington may have picked a bad year to get good again.  That’s because the Pac-12 might be as good as it’s ever been.

Now, suddenly, a Huskies team that was flying high a couple weeks ago finds itself in a must-win situation this Saturday. Washington travels to Tempe to take on Arizona State, which has more-than-enough firepower to hand the Huskies their third-straight loss.

If Washington loses in Tempe, it would likely rebound to beat California and Colorado the next two weeks, which means it would sit at 6-3 heading into its final three games.

Those three games include road trips to UCLA and Oregon State — both likely to be ranked — and a home game against in-state rival WSU, which beat the Huskies last season.

In other words, a loss to ASU would set up Washington for a possible 7-5 regular season.

Seven wins.  Again.

It therefore stands to reason that this Saturday’s game against ASU is the most important game of the Sarkisian era at Washington. A loss to the Sun Devils might get the momentum rolling for Sarkisian to lose his job come December.

A win, or course, would confirm our earlier impression — that UW is a legit team and ready to take the next step to becoming a contender in the Pac-12 North.

It just goes to show you how close the line can be between success and failure in college football. Hopefully, those Pac-12 refs behave this time.

Miami wideout Ahmmon Richards sits out Hurricanes’ scrimmage with pulled hamstring

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The focus in Miami’s preseason camp has been on the budding battle to be the starting quarterback but Mark Richt might have bigger concerns after an injury to another star offensive player.

The Hurricanes head coach confirmed to reporters on Saturday that receiver Ahmmon Richards missed the practice after he pulled his hamstring earlier in the week. Safe to say that’s not the kind of injury you want a burner like that to suffer right before the season starts.

The Palm Beach Post reports that senior Braxton Berrios stepped up in Richards’ absence during the scrimmage with six catches for 107 yards but things figure to be a little different against real opposing defenses this fall if his running mate can’t go full blast down the field like he potentially could.

Richards averaged 19 yards a catch last season and racked up nearly 1,000 yards through the air as a true freshman. He was expected to play a pivotal role in an offense that is breaking in a new signal-caller but, given the tricky nature of hamstring pulls and wide receivers, it could be a few weeks into the year before he trots out onto the field for the ‘Canes.

FAU-bound John Franklin III says he wasn’t having fun at Auburn

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John Franklin III has had a ton written about him for a player going on his fourth program in five years but here’s a little more.

The quarterback-turned-wide receiver recently gave an interview to Matthew DeFranks of the Florida Sun Sentinel on his decision to transfer to Florida Atlantic for his senior season and seemed to lob a subtle shot at his former coaching staff at Auburn while doing so.

The not “having too much fun” line will probably draw most of the attention but don’t discount the issue Franklin has with playing every snap. While he arrived on the Plains as a signal-caller, he gave way to Sean White as the starter last year and was moved all over the field in a variety of packages. This spring he changed positions to wide receiver full time as a result but decided to transfer before catching passes for the Tigers.

The former ‘Last Chance U’ star will now head to Boca to play for former coach Clint Trickett with the Owls. It’s not super clear what exact role he will have in the offense but hopefully for Franklin he can have a little more “fun” this season along the way.

Alabama RB Bo Scarbrough misses practice for second time

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A running back is on the loose in Tuscaloosa and no, that’s not as good as it sounds for the Crimson Tide.

Beat reporter Alex Byington noted on Saturday that star tailback Bo Scarbrough was noticeably absent from Alabama’s practice on Saturday when it came time for media viewing periods, the second straight time that he’s been out of sight on the field.

The Tuscaloosa News followed up on the matter and reports that Scarbrough’s attendance (or lack thereof) was “nothing serious” and Nick Saban confirmed as much later in the afternoon by saying the running back was sick with an illness that kept him out.

Sophomore Josh Jacobs also missed the viewing period on Saturday.

Scarbrough has had a light work load the past several months as he recovers from a broken leg he suffered in the national championship game. The presumed starter is still expected to be good to go for the season opener against Florida State but the absences at practice will at least make things interesting in the next two weeks at a crowded position on the depth chart.

Four-star DT Tyler Shelvin will redshirt at LSU after NCAA partially denies eligibility

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The state of Louisiana’s top recruit will not be playing for the state’s top football team this fall.

Four-star defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin will enroll at LSU next week, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate, but will not be eligible to play in 2017 following a ruling from the NCAA on his status. The news is a big blow not only to Shelvin, but to the Tigers who are thin on the interior defensive line and were hoping to rotate in the 380-pounder this year.

Shelvin’s high school coach told the paper that the NCAA “partially denied” the defender’s eligibility, forcing him to redshirt in his first year on campus. He reportedly took several classes over the summer in order to meet requirements but apparently fell short of hitting the association’s standard to be cleared.

The loss of Shelvin’s services is a tough one after he turned into one of the center pieces of head coach Ed Orgeron’s top 10 recruiting class from February. The Tigers have had a history of talented defensive tackles running into eligibility issues in the past but the rather thin depth chart in the middle of the defensive line made bringing in Shelvin a priority.

That is not to be the case however, as LSU will move forward sans the big defender just two weeks out from the start of the season.