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UW, Ohio State balance fun, football at Rose Bowl

On Wednesday, it was a trip to Disneyland. Thursday brought an evening at a comedy show. And Friday night? The Lawry’s Beef Bowl.

Washington’s veteran players are used to this. It’s the Huskies’ third straight trip to a New Year’s Six Bowl, so the balancing act between downtime and football is routine for them by now.

With UW and Ohio State in Southern California for a week before the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, junior wide receiver Aaron Fuller said it’s important to have the time away from football.

And while the Huskies often travel to California for games, this is the first time Fuller has been able to experience any of the cities. Several of the Huskies grew up in the area, but Fuller is from McKinney, Texas.

“It’s been fun getting to explore,” Fuller said, “and also have a game of this magnitude to look forward to.”

Senior running back Myles Gaskin — who said he’s happy just to have some time in the sunshine — said it falls to the Huskies’ veterans to help guide the younger players through the week.

“I looked at our schedule the other day and you can kind of see we got a lot of events,” Gaskin said. “At the end of the day, you got to play a football game. … I feel like young guys, probably on both sides, probably get a little excited for the events and forget we got a game to play.”

Gaskin remembers being in that position himself.

“It is what it is,” he said. “You learn from it. It’s fun to have these opportunities to do these things. A lot of people have never been to Disneyland, a lot of people are never going to do what we’re going to do this week. Just got to enjoy each and every thing when it’s the right time to enjoy it.”

Said UW tight end Drew Sample: “For us, we understand that yeah, it’s awesome to enjoy and soak in this experience but at the end of the day just know in your mind that you’re here to compete for a Rose Bowl.”

Ohio State defensive end Jonathan Cooper also stressed the importance of balance. But since he’s never been to Los Angeles before, he’s making sure to soak it all in.

On Wednesday night, Cooper walked over to LA Live, a downtown entertainment complex. While there, he found an activity outside of football he might just want to try.

“I saw people ice skating,” Copper said with a grin. “I’ve never been ice skating before. I might do that. I’m just going to enjoy the experience because I mean, not a lot of opportunities come like this, you know? Number one is to win the game, of course.”

When asked if ice skating was next on the priority list, Cooper laughed.

“I don’t know about ice skating,” he said.

Both UW and Ohio State held their first practices at the StubHub Center in Carson on Thursday and Friday afternoon. While the activities on the evening schedule might be exciting, Gaskin has been sure to preach the importance of focus.

During practice, he doesn’t want to hear any chatter about the events ahead.

“I think that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “I think (the younger players) do a great job at it anyway but you don’t want to ever not say something and have that slip between the cracks.

“We’re just going to make sure those guys are taken care of. And the older guys, too. It’s not just a younger guys thing. You just got to know what the difference is between fun and practice and getting ready for these game.”

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