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March 27, 2013
The Huskies are speeding things up.
It's no secret. In the past, the Washington football team has struggled with the up-tempo, no-huddle offense. So, this spring, head coach Steve Sarkisian is running the no-huddle as fast as he can possibly get it to go.
"It's challenging. It's hard," Sarkisian said. "They're in the best shape of their lives, and it's still hard on them."
Linebacker Shaq Thompson said that with the up-tempo, they just have to be ready - get the ball, get the call, and get ready for the next play. He also said the toughest part is probably the conditioning.
His teammates agree.
Linebacker John Timu said the speed is what really gets to the team.
"Everything's so fast you can't even bend over to breathe," Timu said.
But with the physical conditioning of it all, the mental conditioning comes through, as well.
Timu said he thinks the mental part of it might be right up there with the physicality of it, especially given the team trying to get better from struggling against the no-huddle last season.
"The tempo was so fast, it's hard to think and try to prepare at the same time, so we practice it every day," Timu said.
Sarkisian said that during their two-week break, the players will have to continue to work out on their own so they can come back for the second half of spring practice ready to go.
The conditioning is tough, but they can't throw away what they've already accomplished.
"I thought they've responded," Sarkisian said. "I thought we had a little bit of a lull at practice three, we got a little fatigued, but I think they responded well in the second week."
During the break, the coaches will go back and assess where they're at as a program after the first six practices.
Sarkisian said they'll look at how individuals have both progressed and regressed on both sides of the ball. They'll also look at where they're at as a team - what they've accomplished and what they need to build upon.
"It gives us a real chance to sit back and analyze what we've done in every phase and how to improve," Sarkisian said.
Defensive end Josh Shirley had already done a little analyzing of his own after practice six ended.
So, what did he think of defending against the no-huddle offense during the first half of spring practice?
"It's more upbeat," Shirley said. "We've got to get acclimated. That's where we've struggled in the past, so we have to strengthen our weaknesses, and this is one of them."
One of the games last season that really showed Washington's struggle against the fast-paced offense was in the loss to Oregon.
Washington is preparing for the speed that teams like Oregon show - and the Pac-12's use of the no-huddle offense isn't just limited to the Ducks. The Huskies will face at least seven teams during the season that go with the up-tempo offense.
Timu said that they need to be ready for that kind of speed so they can avoid "cheap touchdowns" during a game when they get caught off guard.
All in all, Sarkisian thinks the coaches and players have responded well to this new offense. Now, they just have to keep working.
Sarkisian said: "We've got a lot of it in in two weeks time, and for it being new to us as coaches and our players, I was actually very impressed with the guys and their ability to retain it and then go out and execute it, especially in this setting when there was no scripts and they had to just get the signal and go play. I think they did a nice job of it."
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