The Washington Huskies have arrived in South Bend, Ind.!
Well, not so fast.
The players and coaches themselves are still scheduled to hold a mid-morning practice Thursday, then board an early-afternoon charter flight from Sea-Tac Airport to the home of Notre Dame football.
But most of their equipment is already there.
The squishiest turnaround this week from a road game at Stanford last Saturday to the game against the Irish this Saturday belongs to the equipment management team, in charge of not only unloading the 53-foot semi-trailer from the last game, but preparing it for the next game as well.
And that “next” game is some 2,150 miles away.
Bart Fullmer, one of the equipment managers, outlined this week’s itinerary:
• By Sunday afternoon, the truck returned from California. Two staff equipment managers, 4-5 student managers and another UW employee strictly there to do laundry awaits the trailer.
“We unloaded it, got all the stuff washed up Sunday and Monday morning and unloaded all of the (equipment) trunks,” Fullmer said.
• Monday is what Fullmer calls “repacking” day. Once the managers restock the trunks, and athletic trainers go over supplies, the same crew fills up the trailer for pickup.
• On Tuesday morning, the school’s transportation company – AirVan Transport, LLC – sends a truck and two-man driving crew to pick up the trailer to hit the road.
• The trip to South Bend, Ind., by Fullmer’s estimation will take the drivers 40-42 hours to make, under ideal conditions. Each driver drives to 10 hours, then sleeps while the other one takes over.
The only scheduled time the semi-truck and trailer stop is to gas up. Drivers to have the leeway of pulling over to get sleep at a rest stop or motel.
One of the reasons the university sends the equipment so far ahead of time on long trips is driving laws. Drivers can only drive so many miles, for so many consecutive hours, before they are required to take days off.
• The Huskies’ equipment management team will take the charter plane out, then meet the transportation company sometime Friday to set up the team’s visiting locker room. Fullmer said that is usually completed some time in the night.
• On a trip like this, or to the Arizona schools, normally players will travel home with their shoulder pads and helmets, just so they’ll have them for practice Monday.
• Fullmer said the semi-track and trailer is scheduled to arrive back in Seattle “late Monday or early Tuesday.”
This coaching staff prefers the equipment be shipped by truck. By contrast, for the season opener at Syracuse in New Jersey, coach Tyrone Willingham had all the necessary stuff brought on the airplane.
Other stuff from Wednesday:
• On a whim, and a half-hour into practice, Sarkisian came over to Jared Blank, the director of player personnel who was running all the music during practice. He motioned he wanted a certain song played, then instructed him, “Over and over again!”
It was the “Notre Dame Victory March.”
And it was loud.
So loud, minutes into it, cornerback Quinton Richardson and safety Nate Williams tried to get Blank to turn the volume down – to no avail.
The way it worked out, the song played 100 minutes – or one minute for every year the song has been around.
“You’ve got to get used to the element you’re going to be in,” Sarkisian said. “Yesterday, we brought in the rain because it’s supposed to rain Saturday. And then today, we brought in the fight song because they play it a lot when you’re there.”
To which defensive tackle Cameron Elisara said, “It was giving me headaches, playing over and over. I just wanted to go over to the CD player and break the CD. It was brutal.”
Don’t whine to Sarkisian, who’s had to endure that song at Notre Dame Stadium every other year while at USC since 2001.
“I’ve been sick of it for seven years,” he told a radio host coming off the field. “I needed these guys sick of it.”
• Linebacker E.J. Savannah (right foot) was wearing a protective boot, and did nothing but spectate at practice Wednesday. He is still questionable to play against the Irish.
“We’re waiting on some things to come back specifically, kind of an in-sole for his shoe that is not in yet,” Sarkisian said. “He’s getting a lot of mental reps, and staying locked in the game plan and we just want to keep his foot in the boot so he doesn’t injure it any worse and let it keep healing.”
• Receiver Devin Aguilar (knee) rode the stationary bike, did light jogging and midway through practice, went through some light pass-catching stuff with Blank. He is also a game-time decision.
• During an 11-on-11 drill, backup offensive tackle Nick Scott hit the turf hard after rolling his left ankle. He was helped off the field, and immediately his foot was wrapped in ice.
• When asked how the Huskies planned on trying to disrupted Notre Dame’s sophisticated passing attack, he scoffed at the notion.
“They chuck the ball over your head. It makes it hard but not sophisticated. They throw more fades than a lot of other schools, and they’ll keep doing it, and they’ll try and get PIs (pass interference penalties),” Holt said. “You’ve got to make sure your kids are aware of that.”
• At the end of practice Monday, Elisara was seen rolling on his stomach 200 yards – once up the field, and then back – as punishment for arriving late for a team workout. “So I don’t do it again,” he said, smiling.