SEATTLE (AP) — Washington quarterback Keith Price walks to the line of scrimmage and only has time for a cursory glance.
He looks for shades of the defensive linemen, notes where safeties are aligned, barks out calls and makes sure all his teammates are set before taking the snap. And he does it in a blink.
“At first it was challenging but you get used to it,” Price said. “You see they’re not able to do a whole lot of things when you’re going fast.”
It took only a matter of seconds for Price to process all that information he needed to operate No. 19 Washington’s new fast-break offense in the season opener against Boise State. It was an eye-popping performance with the Huskies playing faster than at any other point in coach Steve Sarkisian’s time at the school.
Potentially scary for future opponents, beginning with Illinois on Saturday, the Huskies believe they can be even faster.
“All in all the mechanics of it were good,” Sarkisian said, referring to the offensive performance in the 38-6 rout of Boise State. “I think we’ll be better Saturday. There are some little tweaks that we are going to make that will make us even faster and more efficient.”
When Sarkisian made the decision in the offseason that Washington would ditch its previous methods of trying to slow the game down and limit offensive possessions, he first had to decide what type of offense the Huskies would have.
They had shown various looks in his first four seasons that were tailored toward the personnel at the time.
When Sarkisian arrived and he inherited Jake Locker as his quarterback, it was obvious the traditional drop-back style that he used as the offensive coordinator at USC wouldn’t work exactly the same. When he saw that some of the spread principles other teams have used with success worked with Price’s skills, he tweaked his system to fit those in as well.
Once the decision about how the Huskies would look offensively was made, the next step was figuring out the mechanics. Instead of sending out coaches to meet with other schools and gather ideas before spring practice, Sarkisian decided the 2013 version of spring football would be where the trial and error took place.
“We went in kind of a little bit blind in spring ball just trying to feel it all out,” Sarkisian said. “And we were going pretty fast. But when we sent our coaches on the road to kind of visit with other people to see what they were doing, our guys were coming back going, ‘I don’t think anyone is going as fast as we’re going.'”
The Huskies also had to decide what type of no-huddle to run. Some teams slow down after initially getting into formation, taking a moment for coaches and the quarterback to examine the defense before calling the play. The benefit of going that route is that teams usually get into a better play against the defensive look.
But the Huskies decided that going as quick as possible, even if it’s not the best play, was the better choice.
“There are two sides to the coin. When you’re slowing down you’re trying to get the checks at the line, you’re trying to get the best play versus the look that you are getting by the defense,” Sarkisian said. “When you go as fast as you go, maybe you don’t run as many plays but you know how to block the specific looks that you get and your quarterback knows how those plays fit versus the defenses that you get. So you rep those plays more often rather than having more plays in the game plan.”
The Huskies ran a play an average of every 21 seconds against Boise State and Sarkisian believes they can go faster just by doing little things like making sure players hand the ball to the umpire for it to be spotted and making substitutions with a greater sense of urgency.
“For now it’s full throttle,” Sarkisian said. “We’re going for it.”
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