The Huskies’ Sarknado of an offense was a constant blur of activity Saturday night. Retake Montlake? At some of the more relentless junctures, I’d have settled for retaking a breath.
Fans who came to lazily savor the ambience of new Husky Stadium barely had time to take a quick glance sideways. Turn your head at your own peril; shoot, five plays were liable to have gone by while you admired the boats in the harbor or marveled at the clarity of the new scoreboard.
This was fast-break football, made doubly frenetic by the fact that Boise State played the same mode. It was as if style points were awarded for most plays run per minute, a blur of dueling game plans that might have been choreographed by Paul Westhead.
Huddles? We don’t have time for no stinkin’ huddles. Think Oregon at its most frantic, though not always, to the Huskies’ seeming detriment in the first half, with the same payoff at the end.
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The pace was exactly what Steve Sarkisian envisioned when he amped up the Husky offense, taken for its maiden run on a picturesque evening of monumental purpose and ecstatic result for Washington.
“It wasn’t fast and chaotic,’’ Sarkisian said afterward. “It was fast, and we executed.”
In the end, Boise State was not able to burst the Huskies’ bubble-screen. With quarterback Keith Price staying fully in control while working at breakneck speed — Sarkisian called it playing with “a quiet mind,” not an easy balance on a night fraught with potential distractions — the UW sprinted and soared to a robust 38-6 victory.
Sarkisian’s grand plan in the offensive makeover — besides freeing up Price to play instinctual football, a mission that must be rated as a major initial success — was to wear down the opposing defense to soften them up for the late dagger.
But there was a twist before the twist: the Huskies’ own defense was presented with the same challenge as their opponents. Boise State not unexpectedly went up-tempo, too — a juxtaposition of similar styles that served mainly to highlight Washington’s significant edge in playmakers, and in defensive prowess. Those dynamics made all the difference.
Ominously, the Huskies couldn’t break away in the first half though they dominated the stat sheet. They ran 52 plays and put up 313 yards, nearly matching last year’s full-game averages of 69 plays and 355 yards.
Yet they came away with just 10 points, salvaging a mere field goal out of two drives inside the Boise State 15. The nagging fear was that like an ace pitcher who works out of jams early and then finds his groove in later innings, the 19th-ranked Broncos would develop energy from their escapes.
But even without Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who watched the game in full uniform from the sideline while serving his appropriate one-game suspension, the Husky offense hummed even louder after intermission, just as hoped for.
“Coach Sark said he wants to finish in the second half,’’ said senior wide receiver Kevin Smith. “The third quarter came and we went. We just went.”
Recovering from a here-we-go-again start — an interception on his first pass of the season — Price ran the offense with poise and efficiency. It helped, of course, that he was not constantly under siege, a testament to the Huskies’ remade offensive line. And when Boise State did apply pressure, Price avoided his past tendency to try to make something out of nothing.
Instead, he bided his time, waiting for the proper moment to make something out of something, including two electrifying touchdown passes in the third quarter to Kasen Williams and tight end Josh Perkins that broke the game open. By that time, the Broncos were sucking air, right on schedule.
“Yeah, seemed really tired,’’ Perkins said. “They were easier to block in the second half. They couldn’t really get lined up. They were looking for their calls, and we already had our calls.”
The depth in Price’s receiving corps was notable. Seven players caught balls, and that was without their All-America candidate at tight end. Lurking always as the ultimate security blanket was running back Bishop Sankey, who bulled his way to 161 yards and two touchdowns.
The Huskies’ defense, meanwhile, found its own second wind, stopping Boise State on a huge fourth-and-one in the third quarter. That, it turned out, expunged the Broncos’ final chance to make a game of it.
After that, it was a whirlwind of Huskies in motion, 592 yards worth, until finally, with the game safely in hand and Price chillin’ on the bench, Sarkisian let up on the gas pedal.
“It was weird at the end when we slowed down, because we had been going so fast for so long,’’ said Sarkisian.
At that point, they had earned the respite.
|Most TD passes by a Huskies QB|
|Keith Price took over the top spot Saturday.|
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @StoneLarry