What’s not to love about the Huskies’ shift to an all-out, no-huddle offense after Saturday’s 38-6 victory over No. 19 Boise State?
“I’m having a blast calling this,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said Monday. “Ten years ago, I probably should’ve been running this (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 in years past.
“It feels right. I feel like we can be more physical; we don’t want to lose the physicality we have … but it’s a lot of fun. And that’s what it should be. I felt like it kept our fans engaged in the game. That lull between snaps, where the 25 seconds they can talk to their buddy or kiss their girlfriend in the Dawg Pack or whatever they do up there, they kept the towels waving and people were fired up. I thought it was great.”
Sarkisian, however, tempered the excitement with the Huskies when they gathered for practice in helmets and shoulder pads Monday morning.
“It was a nice win for us, but there’s a lot for us to go back to work on,” he said.
Sarkisian was happy to allow Boise State’s offense just two “explosion” plays of 15 yards or more, but UW’s tackling has to improve, he said.
He did single out the starters in the secondary — safeties Sean Parker and Will Shamburger, and corners Marcus Peters and Greg Ducre — for their performances Saturday.
Offensively, he praised just about everyone, from the line to Keith Price, Bishop Sankey and virtually all the receivers.
Sarkisian said he “loves” having a bye this week. UW will implement its game plan this week for the Sept. 14 game against Illinois (at Chicago’s Soldier Field), and the Huskies will have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off.
On Illinois, Sarksian said he was impressed with QB Nathan Scheelhaase, who threw for 416 yards in the Illini’s 42-34 victory over FCS Southern Illinois on Saturday.
Seven true freshmen played on Saturday, and cornerback Jermaine Kelly is another who could play at some point this season. Sophomore Kendyl Taylor did not play Saturday and is a likely candidate to redshirt this season after playing as a true freshman in 2012.
More highlights from Sark’s press conference:
(opening remarks) “One of the more impressive things for me was outscoring them 28-3 in the second half, meaning we were in good physical condition on both sides of the ball. …
“Really impressed with Keith’s second half of the game. I thought he was focused, I thought he was detailed. I thought he used his legs really well in the second half, running around and making his plays the way he’s capable of doing it.
“If you could bottle that game up and say who is Bishop Sankey, that game.
“I thought Jaydon Mickens, the numbers say it but then you go look at the film, had a tremendous game for us. I thought John Ross had a nice impact on the game, maybe could’ve had an even bigger one. Missed him a couple times.
“As a whole, you say you defend 88 plays and only allow two explosive plays and we come out and say, ‘We gotta tackle better.’ Which is really cool. That was the whole theme for the team: There’s a lot for us to work on. It was a nice win for us, but there’s a lot for us to go back to work on. As we touched on today, shoot, we had shoulder pads and helmets on on a Monday after a game.
“It was a good win. I’m fired up for the fans, I’m fired up for the Dawg Pack and what they brought to the game. I thought they were tremendous. … But for us as a team, there’s plenty of stuff for us to get better at.
“We have a chance to be pretty good, but we’ve got to fix some stuff.”
(Difference with Price in second half) Just him settling down and playing. He was so fired up. I love that about Keith. Nobody prepared more, nobody was more ready to go play the game. And that environment and all that stuff that comes into the game, I think he was just kind of white-knuckled. He was grabbing the ball too hard. Just settle down and play the game, and I thought he did that. One of the cooler plays was the touchdown to Josh Perkins. They kind of all-out blitzed us, and I went back to the Alamo Bowl two years ago, if you remember a touchdown to Jermaine Kearse, we were in an empty formation and they (Baylor) all-out blitzed us and (Price) pump-faked, avoided the guy and threw the ball about 55 yards down the field to Jermaine for a touchdown. It was almost reminiscent to that (against Boise State); he pump fakes, avoids to his left and hits Perkins for the touchdown.
“To me, it was him just going back to playing football and that’s what I was hopeful we could get to with Keith, because when we plays that way, man, we’re pretty good. And he’s really good when he plays that way, and I thought he was tha tin the second half. When we went four straight drives of four consecutive touchdowns, he was just in a really good rhythm and really good command of the offense.
(on the blend of speed, pace and efficiency with the offense) “I thought it was really good. It was unique to me. This is new to me, too, going this fast. It was unique to me there in the fourth quarter, seven minutes left, going ‘Where’s the pace? What’s the pace?’ And that’s the juggling act as the head coach, as the play-caller on offense, of how do we keep our players disciplined of going fast but also being respectful of the game, and how to operate the game in such a manner that you respect your opponent, because Boise’s a good football team, Coach Petersen’s a great coach … There’s a fine line in there, but I thought the tempo was great. I thought our guys early on of how efficient they were. I thought there was a telling point in the game. …
“If you remember the third-down conversion to Kasen (Williams) there early in the third quarter, it was a big third-down conversion. He makes a great run after the catch, and he goes down and the first thing he does is give the ball to the official and he sprints and gets lined up in his spot. And sure enough, about eight seconds later, he catches a touchdown pass. So our guys are starting to understand more of the up-tempo and what we’re trying to get done and, respectfully, how to handle the game there late in the ballgame.”
(do you want to go even faster?) “I think there’s time where we can be faster. I watched our game on replay last night … and I was thinking about it. … There were some really cool moments in there. At one point, we lined up in the same formation and ran the same play three times in a row and scored a touchdown and we did it all in about a 40-second span. That’s the stuff we’re looking for, and that keeps the pressure on our opponents.