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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 26, 2010 at 10:46 AM

Harbaugh preparing for a myriad of looks from the Huskies

Jim Harbaugh’s weekly segments on the Pac-10 coaches conference call are always interesting.
The Stanford coach only reinforced that never-know-what-you’re-going-to-get reputation today when he took a question about the low attendance at the Stanford-WSU game Saturday and turned it into a minute-or-so rumination on the difficulty of preparing for Washington (even Paul McCartney was amazed at that long and winding road).
“We look at this game as the most important game on our schedule,” Harbaugh said as he concluded the answer. “Everything that Washington does schematically on defense and offensively, there is just a high volume that they have got in, and the players execute it. It’s impressive. We are in the midst of that preparation and it just really captivates all your thinking.”
Harbaugh, however, is just the latest coach to mention the large amount of offensive and defensive formations and plays that the Huskies run.
In fact, Brock Huard mentioned on the Arizona-UW telecast that Arizona coach Mike Stoops said that the Huskies had more than 200 formations on offense. That’s not necessarily 200 different plays, just 200 different formations and motions out of which they run their plays.
Indeed, reviewing the UW-Arizona game made that clear. One thing that hasn’t gotten much mention is that the Huskies in the last two weeks have added what is essentially a version of the the Pistol, with a running back lined up behind QB Jake Locker in the shotgun. Also a somewhat new look is having Chris Polk lined up as a fullback (which helped UW get a first down in a short-yardage situation). And that’s not to mention the increasing use of the fly sweep and plays out of that formation.
And a couple weeks ago, Oregon State coach Mike Riley said much the same about UW’s defensive looks, saying that the Huskies had as much variety on that side of the ball as any team in the conference. He credited that to creating some confusion among the Beavers that helped lead to some of the sacks the Huskies got in the late going.
So the point seems to be being made by other coaches that while UW may be struggling to get wins and losses, it’s not for lack of mixing things up in terms of schemes and formations and plays.
As for Harbaugh, he also talked about the recent play of sophomore running back Stepfan Taylor, who has stepped in for Toby Gerhart and is up to sixth in the Pac-10 in rushing with 624 yards, averaging 5.0 per carry.
“There is a guy who in his last game we saw a lot of improvement,” Harbaugh said of Taylor, who had 142 yards against Washington State. “He held on to the football, got tough yards yards after contact, kicked out of some tackles. He’s been good catching the ball, good at protecetion. He’s really asserting himself.”
Harbaugh also again expressed his disappointment over how Stanford allowed 21 points in the fourth quarter against WSU to turn what was a pretty comfortable win in reality to a 38-28 victory on the scoreboard.
“Definitely not happy about it,” he said. “We played three quarters and basically gave up nine first downs and then in a quarter we give up 10 first downs and 21 points. It’s been addressed and will continue to be addressed.”
Stoops followed Harbaugh on the conference call and said that he thought his team played “one of our most complete games” in beating the Huskies Saturday, maybe the best outside of the win over Iowa.
“Just playing well on both lines always gives you a chance to be successful and I think both of our lines played really well,” Stoops said.

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