SEATTLE – At its core, college football is less about innovation than it is about imitation.
So rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, the offensive coaches at the University of Washington have spent a good part of this season picking out cars from other lots.
The Huskies have featured a fly sweep play that’s popular in high school and Pop Warner fields; they’ve added an abundance of plays out of the Wildcat formation that Auburn made famous; and they have debuted a Pistol formation like the one Nevada has used to baffle opponents all season. And that’s just in the last month.
“You’re always watching and learning,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said this week. “Change is inevitable. If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. And we’re just trying to get better.”
While the Huskies’ offense is still trying to find the consistency it needs to be truly dominant this season, it’s not for a lack of trying.
Sarkisian and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier have been proactive in terms of renovating the UW offense.
“You’re always looking to create a competitive advantage for yourself,” Nussmeier said. “Every week when we go in against an opponent, we self-scout ourselves. What are we doing? What are we seeing on film? How are people trying to defend us? And then how do we think we can attack them?”
In Year 2 of their era as UW coaches, Sarkisian and Nussmeier have felt more comfortable about adding to the playbook without losing the players’ concentration.
And yet, on a team that returned 10 of its top 11 players in terms of total offense from last year’s squad, it was a true freshman who dictated many of the playbook additions.
Running back Jesse Callier, who had nearly no chance of beating out Chris Polk for the starting job, was so impressive early in the season that the Huskies began finding creative ways to get him on the field.