It’s worked wonders for Oregon for the past six years. And it’s worked well for Washington since its debut six weeks ago.
The up-tempo, no-huddle, no-mercy offense, brought to life in the Pac-12 Conference by then-Oregon offensive coordinator Chip Kelly starting in 2007, has made the Ducks into a perennial national power. And it has helped make this the most promising season in Year 5 of the Steve Sarkisian era for the Huskies.
But to the suggestion that he borrowed a page out of the playbook of UW’s No. 1 nemesis, well, Sarkisian doesn’t take any offense to that.
“I haven’t really thought of it that way,” Sarkisian said Monday, five days before the 16th-ranked Huskies host No. 2 Oregon at Husky Stadium.
“I think we have strengths on our team that are similar to strengths on their team. Obviously, we have some pretty good skilled athletes; they have good skilled athletes. I’d be a fool not to play to those strengths.
“So I don’t resent that (suggestion).
“I guess I’d feel resent if people thought we looked like a team that wasn’t very good. Then I’d feel bad about it.”
For the Huskies (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12), there’s a lot to like about their offensive transformation, which isn’t unlike the transition the Ducks (5-0, 2-0) went through when Kelly arrived from New Hampshire six years ago. Back then, Kelly helped resurrect senior quarterback Dennis Dixon into a Heisman Trophy contender in a run-first offense complemented by junior running back Jonathan Stewart. By the end of 2010, Oregon was playing for the national championship.
This offseason, Sarkisian and UW offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau opted to overhaul the UW offense around a similar concept - fast, fast and faster - albeit with many of their old pro-style concepts still intact. The results? Among other improvements, senior quarterback Keith Price is rejuvenated and junior running back Bishop Sankey is leading the Pac-12 in rushing after five games.
Yes, the Huskies have been Oregon-ized.
“I watched how difficult it was to defend them,” said Sarkisian, who had a good relationship with Kelly before the UO coach left for the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this year.