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Washington TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins 'out of sync,' coach says

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press
Washington TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins has 17 receptions for 205 yards and four TDs in five games this season.

A dominant tight end should be the quick fix for a struggling passing offense, right?

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That's what you would think, but Austin Seferian-Jenkins has remained a non-factor even as the Washington attack has slowed down over the past two games. Then again, Seferian-Jenkins hasn't been much of a presence in any of the other four games he has played in this season.

After missing the opener to serve a one-game suspension, Seferian-Jenkins has 17 receptions for 205 yards and a team-high four touchdowns this season, numbers that pale in comparison to his record-breaking first two seasons on Montlake.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian described Seferian-Jenkins' play as "just a little bit out of sync, a little bit out of sorts, but really the last two weeks our entire passing game has been that way."

As quarterback Keith Price has struggled in losses to Oregon and Arizona State, Seferian-Jenkins has two touchdown receptions inside the 20-yard line but has not been involved outside of the red zone, with just one catch for 28 yards.

"It hasn't been without trying," Sarkisian said Tuesday on the Pac-12 coaches teleconference. "I think Austin is working extremely hard."

Sarkisian pointed to the success UW has had running the ball, crediting Seferian-Jenkins' blocking.

"He is becoming more of an overall complete football player," Sarkisian said. "But believe me, we'd like to get him the football more that he has gotten the ball in his hands because he is a very good weapon for us."

With Price dealing with an injured thumb on his throwing hand -- Sarkisian said he was hopeful Price could play Saturday against California; redshirt freshman Cyler Miles would likely start if Price cannot go -- getting Seferian-Jenkins and wide receiver Kasen Williams more easy touches would seem to be the way to get back on track and keep opponents from focusing on stopping running back Bishop Sankey. But Sarkisian said there is a "fine line" between involving those top playmakers and sacrificing the entire offense.

"You like to lean on the guys that you know you can count on, but still keeping the balance, still spreading the ball around," Sarkisian said. "That's the challenge that we will face again this week, is giving those guys enough opportunities to make their plays but keep the essence of the offense still moving forward."

The combination of his offseason DUI arrest and lack of production on the field has seen Seferian-Jenkins cede his title as the top tight end in college football to Eric Ebron of North Carolina, and the same is likely reflected on draft boards.

A strong finishing kick for Seferian-Jenkins would give the 6-foot-6, 266 pounder and his team some much-needed momentum to close out a season that started with so much promise.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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