Before they started wearing down their opponents with their track-meet pace, the Huskies first found themselves run into the ground by Washington strength and conditioning coach Ivan Lewis.
Junior running back Bishop Sankey remembers running sprint after sprint, day after day this past summer, under the hot afternoon sun, and under the watchful eye of the taskmaster, Lewis.
“The first week was the most brutal,” Sankey said Monday. “He’s going to push you. He’s going to push you to the limit … and get the best out of you.”
The early results from the Huskies’ shift to an up-tempo offense have them ranked among the best in college football. The first month of the season has been the most productive stretch in program history, with the No. 16 Huskies (3-0) ranking third in the nation with an average of 629 yards per game of total offense.
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The Huskies, averaging 83.7 plays per game, have totaled more than 500 yards in three consecutive games for the first time in their recorded history. With 615 yards against Illinois, and 680 Saturday against Idaho State, UW also has back-to-back 600-yard games for the first time.
“We’re really starting to find our stride,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said, adding, “The system is doing what I was hopeful it would do, which is emphasize our skilled athletes. And we have some really skilled, talented football players (who) can create big plays.
“This offense requires great conditioning, and I think our guys are showing that. They’re in great physical shape (and) they’re in tremendous shape in their understanding of the system.”
Senior quarterback Keith Price isn’t surprised how quickly this offense has taken off.
“Even throughout the spring, throughout fall camp, we had a lot of explosive plays,” he said. “… I knew that we had an explosive team, so it’s fun to play against other people and see how explosive we really are.”
Washington, after being flagged 16 times for 130 yards in the victory Saturday over Idaho State, is the most penalized team in the country, with 36 penalties in three games and an average of 98.3 penalty yards a game.
Sarkisian didn’t agree with all the calls, but most, he said, are “unacceptable” for his players to commit.
Sarkisian even reached out to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll on Sunday night to talk about UW’s penalties.
“I think we’re going to have a little bit of this because our guys are going to play really, really hard and they understand it,” Sarkisian said. “But the pre- and post-snap penalties are unacceptable, and we’ll get those fixed.”
Timu on track to return
Middle linebacker John Timu, UW’s leading tackler in 2012, “should be fine” to play against Arizona, Sarkisian said.
Timu sat out the Idaho State game after suffering a shoulder injury a week earlier against Illinois. Thomas Tutogi made his first start in Timu’s place.
• Senior defensive back Taz Stevenson, a key special teams performer last year, is out for the season after having shoulder surgery. He’s the first player lost to a season-ending injury for UW, which has been relatively healthy, particularly compared to this point a year ago.
• Sankey reiterated that his bruised shoulder won’t be a problem this week. “I’m good,” he said.
• Washington’s game at No. 5 Stanford on Oct. 5 will kick off at 7:30 p.m. for an ESPN broadcast, it was announced Monday.
Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @a_jude.