Take a moment with me and really picture it. Say Coach Sarkisian had woken up in a cold sweat one night in the early days of 2012 and said to himself “I have to run a no-huddle offense. It’s the key!” So he spends both spring and fall of 2012 implementing an Oregon-fast tempo into his mostly pro-style offense. What would it have looked like?
It would have been bad. I have been seeing fans on twitter saying “why didn’t we do this sooner?” Sark couldn’t do this any sooner based on a lack of depth at most every offensive position. We have discussed how the speed with which the ball is snapped, combined with how the majority of snaps came out of the shotgun, likely aided the offensive line on Saturday. But last season, with only one returning starter on the line and basically zero reliable backups, the no-huddle would have been a disaster up front. Without the ability to rotate in fresh players, those four inexperienced first-timers (who now make up the starting line in 2013) and Drew Shaefer would have been exhausted by halftime and unable to execute so many plays at an acceptable level. Any decrease in sacks that would theoretically have occurred based on the speed and the shotgun snaps would have been lost to that exhaustion and lack of fundamental experience, and I believe the line would have given up the same number of sacks, if not even more, and that Price would have had his confidence equally shaken.
That right there would have been reason enough to scrap a no-huddle change in 2012. But also consider the lack of depth at receiver. It was Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins followed by just about no one. Jaydon Mickens impressed with his 9 catches for 109 yards last year, but he was a true freshman with inconsistent hands last year. John Ross was still in high school. Kevin Smith was apparently not himself while still recovering from knee surgery. Washington relied on spreading the ball around to Mickens, Ross, Williams, and Smith in the absence of ASJ on Saturday. Last year you can add ASJ back in to the mix with Kasen and subtract everyone else. That is not a recipe for success.
Of course, even though 2012 started with a duo (Callier and Sankey) expected to split carries in the run game, one would imagine that Sankey still would have separated himself and become the backbone of the offense. But would that have led to any more success in a no-huddle attack than it did in 2012 if Price and the offensive line were still struggling? I don’t think so.
Obviously this is all very hypothetical. You can nitpick and ask whether or not the offensive line injuries and Callier’s ACL tear would have occurred in an alternate reality in which the no-huddle was implemented early. But that’s ridiculously beside the point. I only bring all this up to emphasize that Sarkisian couldn’t have brought in these offensive changes any earlier. Even if he had wanted to, and I suspect that he may have, he would have realized what a disaster it would have been for a ragtag line and a thin group of receivers.
It’s here now and it sure worked against Boise State. That should tell Husky fans just how much has changed about this team in the span of one year.