Sarkisian Praises UW's Offensive Output

Washington has dealt with a lot of adversity the past decade: Coaching changes, NCAA investigations, an unheard of 0-fer season. But Saturday they did something else for the first time in 10 years; they handled success. UW was expected to beat 1-5 Colorado, and they did so with precision, 52-24. They put the hammer to a much-maligned CU team early and often, and that was the tale of the tape.

"Welcome to college football," were Steve Sarkisian's words to backup quarterback Nick Montana, after the redshirt freshman suffered a sack and fumble on his first live college snap. But don't worry; Montana was just paying his dues. By the time he rolled into the game, the Huskies had already taken Ralphie to the woodshed.

There were plenty of questions being asked of Sarkisian and the Huskies coming off a bye week. The week before they had dismantled Pac-12 upstart Utah in Salt Lake City, showing the conference that they're ready to take the next step up the metaphorical mountain of success. But Washington has not fared well as a front-runner lately; every time they appear poised to take that next jump forward, they'd usually take two steps back. That's why one of the themes of the week was - how would the Huskies handle being 4-1, with a chance of going 3-0 in league for the first time since 1997?

Five first-half touchdowns later, it's fair to say every question was answered emphatically.

"You come off a bye and a big win like we had at Utah, and there's some challenges from a psychological standpoint…proud of our coaches and our kids for responding the way they did," Sarkisian said post-game. "They played with a real sense of urgency, a lot of energy and a lot of passion. That's the first part. The second part is their ability to execute. One of the keys when you come into a ballgame like this you can have a tendency to be sloppy because of the rhythm of the game, and I thought our kids were on point with everything that we wanted of them and asked them to do. The first half is obviously one of the best halves of football we've played since we've been here. Our guys responded. They played passionate football, they played physical football."

The Huskies were unstoppable on offense. They scored touchdowns in their opening five drives, something they haven't done for so long that records couldn't be traced to figure it out. The first half was like a grand symphony written by Steve Sarkisian and orchestrated by Keith Price. The Washington offense connected on all their third-down conversions, going 5-5; they scored on drives of 65, 74, 70, 70, 56, and 39 yards in the first 30 minutes of the game. In those six drives, they faced third down five times. In two of those drives, they didn't face a third down once. That's the textbook definition of dominance.

Ultimately, the Huskies scored seven touchdowns on Colorado - each by a different player: Jermaine Kearse, Kevin Smith, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Chris Polk, Devin Aguilar, Jesse Callier, and Bishop Sankey all tallied for the Dawgs. That surely has to be a record of some sort. And on top of that, Sarkisian used Polk as the main back, as a fullback, as the quarterback - everything but waterboy. He's using the players he has in a number of different ways, and they are responding to the challenge.

"It's fascinating," Sarkisian said. "It hasn't been like that for me in a long time. When you're calling plays for this football team right now, I'm not calling plays for a specific guy. I'm not concerned about who might be the guy or can he make the play. We have such belief in our guys for them making the play, and it's showing up."

It wasn't a completely flawless performance. Sure, Washington could have played better defensively - especially on the first drives of each half. But let's face it - this game won't be remembered for any massive defensive effort, or what could have been on that side of the ball. It's going to be remembered for an offensive explosion UW fans haven't seen in a long, long time. The fallout from their effort is palpable: They've scored 30 or more points in their first six games for the first time in the history of the program; Keith Price continues to climb up the single-season touchdown charts, throwing four more today - giving the sophomore 21 on the season with six more games to go. That's good enough for fourth already all-time, tying Jake Locker's 2009 output.

I think it's safe to say we shouldn't be surprised with anything Price does anymore. "He's got plays, man," Sarkisian said of his QB. "In the football world, he's a baller. He plays the game, and I love coaching him. It's fun being on the field with him on game day. He brings a real sense of confidence to me, as much as our players. We believe in what he's doing, and he plays well."

Jermaine Kearse caught another touchdown, his 28th. That puts him two behind Mario Bailey for the career receiving touchdowns mark. He's got a half-dozen games to move past Super Mario. Kevin Smith, Jesse Callier, and Bishop Sankey all got their first rushing touchdowns. Seferian-Jenkins' first-quarter touchdown grab gives him four on the season. With those four scores, Seferian-Jenkins moved into the top-10 all-time for tight ends.

With all the aerial pyrotechnics masterminded by Price, Sarkisian was most pleased with the 562 yards of offensive balance, 295 of it coming via the ground. "We pride ourselves in running the ball," Sarkisian said. "I believe in running the football; I think that's how you win. And I think that's how you win late in the year is running the football. To do that today was probably the biggest thing to me, as well as stopping the run. I look at holding them to 62 yards rushing, and to me that's a winning formula. That's our formula for success. You've got to be able to run the ball and stop the run."

Colorado Head Coach Jon Embree also talked about the run post-game, or rather their inability to stop Washington from doing what they like to do. "We didn't do anything well defensively this game We got beat in every phase. We didn't stop them running. We didn't stop them throwing. We got maybe two pressures on the quarterback. When we blitzed, we didn't cover our men."

It didn't help the Buffs' cause that their leading receiver - Paul Richardson - didn't play due to injury, and their other offensive weapon, RB Rodney Stewart, was out injured by halftime. Add to that the fact that their leading sack artist Josh Hartigan was held out nursing a stinger, and it must have felt to Embree like he was orchestrating his own rhapsody in reverse.

The 38-point first-half avalanche laid on the Buffaloes was the most of any opponent since they stuck 45 points on Oregon State in 1999. I was at that game. At halftime, I looked at the Reser Stadium scoreboard. It read, "It's a GREAT day to be a Beaver."

All I know is that it wasn't a great day to be a Beaver 12 years ago, and it wasn't a great day to be a Colorado fan on Saturday.

"They have to go out and compete and have some pride," Embree said afterward. "There's nothing magical you can tell them."

Those words sound awfully similar to Sarkisian's own in 2009, but fast forward two years. "I think we're getting better," he said Saturday night. "We're in foreign territory here. The natural thing for a young team when you're supposed to win is to have that letdown, but we really responded today with a great effort. We play hard. We may not always be right, we may not always be perfect, we may not always look great, but I know that we play hard. If that's the perception, great. If it isn't, then we have to play even harder."

Sarkisian, like his team, will have the next 24 hours to soak in and savor their win. Saturday marks Defensive Coordinator Nick Holt's birthday, so it's a given the staff will probably stay up an extra hour or so past their bedtime. But come Sunday, it's back to work. And like his quarterback, Sarkisian will be out at practice with a smile on his face and a bounce in his step.

"I'm having a blast," he said. "And that's part of what we do - you have to have fun in what you do. And I think our kids are having fun too. We do a lot of different things. They are a very bright group. They can handle a lot of volume and they have fun with it. They enjoy it. They embrace it. They can't wait for Tuesday when the new game plan gets put in." Top Stories