Huskies believe they can stay speedy all season
SEATTLE (AP) — Washington wide receiver Kasen Williams knew since last spring the Huskies were intent on leaving behind the idea of playing to shorten the game and were about to embark on football at a blistering pace.
Even he was surprised just how fast the Huskies played when they finally got on the field.
“I kind of caught myself by surprise to be honest,” Williams said. “We weren’t moving that fast in practice. We were moving fast, but not that fast and I know if I was caught by surprise, they were probably caught by surprise a little bit too.”
Washington likely caught the rest of college football by surprise with their track meet performance in Saturday night’s 38-6 thumping of No. 19 Boise State. The Huskies never hid their intent on speeding up their game going into a season of heightened expectations.
But that fast? And that efficient?
“I watched our game on replay last night ... and I was thinking about it, you don’t even get a chance to comment on the play sometimes because the next play the ball is getting snapped,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said on Monday. “The commentators of the world, they almost have to comment on the drive at times rather than the play. That’s how we hopefully can be and be efficient at it. But I think we can be faster at times for sure.”
Washington ran 85 offensive plays — averaging one snap every 21 seconds — and even slowed its pace slightly in the fourth quarter as the game got out of hand. It was the most plays run by the Huskies since 2007, but more impressive was the efficiency. The Huskies’ 592 total yards was tied for 10th most in school history. They averaged 7 yards per play after averaging nearly a yard less per game a season ago.
Washington’s 33 first downs were the second-most since 1999 and they were 11 of 15 on third-down conversions.
Just as important for Sarkisian and his staff was having smooth communications on the sideline and making sure plays were signaled correctly.
“We’re used to chaos. We’re used to music playing and stuff flying and people running on and off the field. We spot the ball even faster in practice than they do in the games. For us it was a little calm on game day, made it a little easier to go faster,” Sarkisian said. “I felt great about it. ... For the first time doing it with a little bit of anxiousness going into it for me as the play caller, there was some uncertainty how all this was going to play out, but all in all it worked out well.”
Quarterback Keith Price was the ringleader for the Huskies sped up system and for at least one night was back in his 2011 form. Price completed 23 of 31 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns. His first throw of the night was intercepted and two other passes were thrown away when pressured.
Even though Price took a solid first step in putting behind a disappointing 2012 season, he still was receiving tips. Price said he got a long text message after the game from Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson with a few suggestions.
“We understood that we perform well when we’re going faster and doing less thinking and more playing,” Price said. “I think the guys have adjusted well.”
Perhaps scarier for the Huskies upcoming opponents, this was just the first go around with an offense that should only get better. All-American candidate tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins rejoined the first offense at practice on Monday will play at Illinois on Sept. 14 after serving a one-game suspension against Boise State. Washington expects its offense to move even quicker as the season progresses.
“I know we can be faster,” Williams said. “Me personally, I didn’t get as tired as I thought I would and all that did was let me know that we can be faster.”