PROVO — Just like his coach, Washington linebacker Cort Dennison will be making a homecoming of sorts Saturday when BYU hosts the Huskies.
While coach Steve Sarkisian was the starting quarterback at BYU from 1995-96, Dennison is a former Judge Memorial High School star.
Sarkisian knows that Dennison's emotions will be close to the surface.
"One of the natural things when guys go home and play, they try too hard," Sarkisian said. "Cort doesn't need to try too hard. He's a great player."
According to the Seattle Times, Dennison is expecting 30-40 family members and friends cheering him on in Saturday's game at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
The 6-foot-1, 236-pound junior started five games last season, with his first career start coming against Notre Dame.
In 2008, as a redshirt freshman, he did not play in the second game of the year against BYU — a game the Cougars won 28-27 — but played in the remaining 10 games that season.
During the off-season, Dennison was moved from weakside linebacker to middle linebacker to replace Donald Butler. Dennison will make his debut as middle linebacker Saturday.
Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt told the Seattle Times he is confident that Dennison will fit right in at his new position.
"He's kind of the blood and guts of our defense," Holt said. "He's always there, smart, knows what to do, coachable and really is a good player and a lot better athlete than people give him credit for."
LET'S GET PHYSICAL: BYU safety Andrew Rich said one of the keys to last year's season-opening upset of Oklahoma was the Cougars' physical play.
"It's huge. If we would have come out soft (against the Sooners), we would have been run out of the stadium," Rich said. "We know we have to win by our physical play.
"That's something I think our defense is going to take pride in this year, just like we did last year. We have to be physical. (The Huskies) have to know they're playing at LaVell Edwards Stadium and that they're going to be in a physical battle. That's huge for our team."
When talking about BYU this week, Sarkisian described the Cougars as "a physical, smart football team, very well-coached. It's going to be a great challenge for us to go on the road against a talented, top-25 program."
NUMBERS GAME: During fall camp, true freshman Josh Quezada and redshirt freshman wide receiver Cody Hoffman both wore the No. 2 jersey.
According to the depth chart released this week, Hoffman will wear No. 2 while Quezada will sport No. 20.
INJURY UPDATE: The only BYU player who is questionable for Saturday's game is redshirt freshman tight end Devin Mahina, who sprained his ankle during fall camp.
Head trainer Kevin Morris said whether or not Mahina plays is a game-day decision.