SEATTLE — Steve Sarkisian and his Washington Huskies have given new meaning to an old phrase.
You know it: “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”
Last year, Sarkisian brought his team to Tucson and watched the Arizona Wildcats go up and down the field with ease in a 52-17 blowout win.
“They went faster than anything we had seen,” Sarkisian said of the UA.
A tired Husky defense struggled out of Arizona Stadium humbled and even a little embarrassed.
Who would have thought it could have turned out to be the best thing to happen to Sark’s Dawgs?
Washington has installed an up-tempo, no-huddle offense of its own this season. Today at 4, the Huskies will try to give Arizona a taste of its own medicine.
“It felt like Arizona’s tempo got us and part of what we’re doing is because of that,” Sarkisian said. “Now, we feel like it’s an arena we’re used to being in and excelling in. The up-tempo style is really the norm now.
“You better be prepared to defend it or else what happened to us against Arizona last year will happen to you.”
The new style is working for the 16th-ranked Huskies.
For the first time in school history, Washington has gained more than 600 yards in back-to-back games and more than 500 yards in three straight games.
Quarterback Keith Price has thrown for 879 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception in three games. Running back Bishop Sankey has gained 446 yards and scored four TDs to complement Price.
To help defend Washington’s frantic new offense, UA coach Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats began preparing for the Huskies earlier than normal. Usually, Rodriguez would have used last week’s bye week to work mostly on fundamentals and his own team’s issues.
Instead, the UA got to work on Washington’s new style.
“It’s stressful to go against, and that’s why we do it,” said Rodriguez of the up-tempo style. “The key is preventing them from getting first downs. Like us, if they get multiple first downs, they can control the tempo and rhythm and that can put more stress on the defense.”
It’s expected to be wet and windy today, which could help slow both teams on offense. The Wildcats practiced with wet footballs all week, but Rodriguez said “there’s really nothing that can prepare you for a full-on steady rain the entire game.”