Washington Huskies

Chris Petersen likes what Huskies have done, but wants more fans to see it

Chris Petersen on Monday after Idaho

University of Washington Huskies football head coach Chris Petersen talks to the media following Saturday's 59-14 victory over the Idaho Vandals.
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University of Washington Huskies football head coach Chris Petersen talks to the media following Saturday's 59-14 victory over the Idaho Vandals.

Chris Petersen answered questions from reporters for about 17 minutes on Monday afternoon, but the most significant Washington Huskies news of the day had already been announced by the Pac-12 that morning.

There is a kickoff time set for UW’s Sept. 24 conference opener at Arizona. It’s at 7:30 p.m.

That’s also the time at which the college football world might actually begin to discover whether these Huskies are capable of justifying their top-10 ranking.

Until then, the Huskies, ranked No. 8 again this week in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, will continue to remain something of a mystery. Thus far, they have pushed aside two overmatched opponents — a 48-13 blowout of Rutgers, a 59-14 blowout of Idaho — and a third, the Portland State Vikings of the Big Sky, will be in town for a 5 p.m. game Saturday.

The good news: Washington is 2-0. Jake Browning has thrown eight touchdown passes and has barely played in the second half. The defense is all speed and violence. Through eight quarters against inferior competition, the Huskies could not have looked better.

The bad news: Potential ticket-buyers are not enticed by these lopsided scrimmages. The Huskies drew only 58,640 fans for their season opener (an 11 a.m. kickoff, but still) and just 60,678 last weekend against Idaho. Saturday’s game isn’t likely to move that needle, and with the beginning of fall quarter still two weeks away, the student section isn’t at its fullest, either.

Nothing suggests the Huskies aren’t focused, or aren’t treating these early-season opponents the same they would a Pac-12 foe. Their play reflects that. Externally, though, the first three weeks of this schedule seem to hold as much intrigue as an NFL preseason, and meaningful extrapolation won’t be possible until at least the Arizona game, if not UW’s showdown against No.7 Stanford on Sept. 30.

So Chris Petersen, the $3.6-million coach of the nation’s No. 8-ranked team, is lobbying folks to come to the games?

“I know our students aren’t here yet, but I just really hope that the fans, that they come out for this game and they see this,” Petersen said. “It’s an awesome group to coach. It’s going to be an interesting season. I really think that and that’s what I hope.

“Back when this thing was really rolling, it was irrelevant for the most part who was on the schedule; people just came to watch them play, and I think that’s so much of the storied history of this program, when you talk about the greatest setting is all these fans coming and enjoying this. No better setting than it was on Saturday with that water and that temperature. How do you have this temperature, this water, no bugs, no humidity, no nothing and people are like ‘huh? This is awesome.’ 

Otherwise, Washington’s first two games provided little reason to quibble. Petersen said that there was “a lot of good football played” by the Huskies against Idaho, and that nothing about UW’s performance so far has disappointed him.

“We’re on track,” Petersen said. “Nothing is going to be perfect, and we’re always trying to fix things. But I think after game two — I think if you’re trying to forecast, if we’re trying to look ahead and we’re thinking, ‘What’s this team going to look like?’ I think we would hope it would look something like where we are right now.”

Christian Caple: @ChristianCaple

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