So far, Steve Sarkisian enjoying fast-paced Huskies’ offense
Coach says he should have gone to hurry-up offense years ago
Seattle Times staff reporter
Washington at Illinois,3 p.m., Big Ten
It went by in a hurry, and that was exactly the idea for Steve Sarkisian and Washington’s new up-tempo offense in the season-opening rout Saturday of No. 19 Boise State.
Sarkisian had so much fun calling 85 offensive plays in UW’s 38-6 victory that he admitted, yes, maybe he should’ve made the full-time switch to a no-huddle attack earlier.
“I’m having a blast calling this,” said Sarkisian, UW’s coach and play-caller. “Ten years ago, I probably should’ve been running this (as the offensive coordinator at USC). That would’ve gotten Reggie (Bush) and LenDale (White) and Matt (Leinart) more chances to score more points. I think this is great. I think it’s good for us, it’s healthy; we’re in great shape.
“We came out of this game more healthy than in any other first game of the year.”
Sarkisian had some anxiety going into Saturday about how well the new approach would work. In the end, there was little reason to fret, at least on the surface. UW’s 592 yards of total offense tied for the 10th-most in school history, and the defense held Boise State out of the end zone, the first time that’s happened to the Broncos since 1997.
“We have a chance to be pretty good,” Sarkisian said Monday, after a day to review film of one of the most significant victories of his five-year tenure at UW. “But we’ve got to fix some stuff.”
That UW wore down Boise State in the second half — evidenced by the Huskies’ four consecutive touchdown drives to pull away — was a product of their lightning pace in practices since last spring.
“We pump up the pace so fast in practice, it was actually kind of easy in the game,” UW running back Bishop Sankey said.
The Huskies had run some no-huddle in the past, of course. But not full time — and not this fast. Sarkisian said the timing was right to make the shift simply because it fits best with the skill-sets of UW’s current players.
“That’s part of the reason we did that, to emphasize our skill players and maybe de-emphasize up front,” he said. “When you huddle up and when you slow things down, you start putting the emphasis on your big guys up front and they have to be dominant. In this format, it really emphasizes your skill guys and getting the ball in space.”
The Huskies ran 85 plays Saturday and defended 88. That could be the norm going forward, particularly when UW plays the other up-tempo teams.
“The days of playing 65 (snaps) don’t exist any more,” Sarkisian said. “We have to be ready to play 80 to 90 and some games potentially even 100 plays a game. To do that, you have to rotate, you have to have depth and you have to do it early in the game. You can’t wait until you’re tired to sub.”
A side benefit of the ramped-up pace is that UW’s offense doesn’t have much time to dwell on it.
“If we got a holding penalty a year ago, we might as well have punted on second down,” Sarkisian said. “We were so handcuffed after that. Saturday night we got holding penalties, and we just went and kept playing and converted on third down.”
Austin Seferian-Jenkins has some catching up to do. After serving a one-game suspension against Boise State, the tight end was back running with the starting offense in practice Monday, but not in the same physical shape as the rest of his teammates running the new offense, Sarkisian said.
“Today was challenging for him when he was back with the first unit running plays,” he said. “He got a little tired, so we got to get him in shape. But his attitude has been tremendous. I’m excited for him for when he gets to go out and play again and do the things he’s capable of doing.”
Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.