The Washington Huskies Football program is currently stable and the future appears to be bright in the upcoming years on Montlake.
Washington head coach Chris Petersen has built a solid foundation and had returned the Huskies back to national relevance.
The previous coaching regime under Steve Sarkisian seemed to reach it’s capacity at seven to eight wins every season, before he left.
It’s what gave him the dubious nickname “Seven Win Steve,” because there came a point during his tenure when it wasn’t going any higher.
The Washington Resume
Petersen is no doubt an elite coach…which is what has gotten him the nickname “Elite Pete” through the years, due to his success.
While at Washington, Petersen has been nothing short of spectacular as a head coach, and has already accomplished some big things.
In year three of his tenure, Petersen achieved a berth into the College Football Playoff, which made Washington a championship program again.
During his 5 1/2 year era, Coach Pete has won two Pac-12 Championship titles and earned three consecutive berths into New Years Six bowl games.
The last three seasons, Petersen has notched 10 wins in each of those seasons, which shows stability and consistency with his program.
He also has sent numerous players into the NFL draft where they are actually productive players, making an impact with their teams.
There is no doubt that Petersen was a tremendous hire for the University of Washington, but where is this program really headed?
Is This The Ceiling?
Despite all the massive success Petersen has had at Washington, many are wondering if the ceiling has already been reached?
One of the reasons, that narrative has been pushed is because this program has lost three consecutive New Years Six bowl games.
While the quality of the opponent in those games has been Alabama, Penn State and Ohio State, many Husky fans want a breakthrough.
Throughout the huge successes have come the disappointments that end each season, leaving unanswered questions each offseason.
The biggest thing eluding Petersen’s career at Washington has been his ability to win a major bowl game. When will that happen?
With this season being just over the halfway point, that question has never been more real and evident than it is right now.
This is supposed to be the season that the Huskies take that next step, especially with a preseason projection of an easier schedule.
Well..the Huskies are currently 5-2 on the season, with a 2-2 conference record, due to two losses that they were heavily favored in.
They were not supposed to lose to California, and most certainly were expected to handle Stanford, and do it quite easily.
Nobody knows how this season is going to end with the inconsistent play this season, but with five games left anything is possible.
Embrace The Rivalry!
One of the most important things Petersen was tasked with when he was hired is ending the Oregon Ducks reign over the Huskies.
So far, Petersen has a 2-3 record against “Nike U” but since his arrival, the Ducks are on notice that this is an actual rivalry again.
This week during his press conference, Petersen said “I just don’t think like that” when asked about this game being a big rivalry.
In his mind, the game for that present week is the most important game, because after all, it’s Coach Pete and he is very old school.
To the die hard Husky fan, this response has been met with angst and criticism. Husky fans want Petersen to embrace the rivalry!
They want him to talk up the importance of the game with his players, and they want him somehow to join in on the anger towards Oregon.
Three seasons ago the Huskies marched into Eugene and put up a “70-Burger” on the Ducks, and a huge weight was lifted from the Huskies.
The following season, the Huskies followed up that performance with a 38-3 drubbing over the Ducks, in front of the Husky Stadium faithful.
Many believed that the tides had completely turned in the rivalry and Coach Pete was in complete control and dominance of the Ducks.
Last season, the Ducks fired back with a 30-27 overtime win over the Huskies, down in Eugene, OR, and now we are back to legit rivalry!
Oregon has retooled it’s talent with some high rated recruiting classes – now they are firmly back in the mix as a top tier program.
The Moment And Opportunity
This week, the Huskies face off in a gigantic showdown with their counterparts from the south, in a game with huge implications.
Oregon is riding into town with supreme confidence, as they are currently on a five-game winning streak and atop the Pac-12 North Division.
The Ducks possess the third best defense in the nation, with holding opponents to only 8.7 points per game and shutting everyone down.
With their current ranking of #12 in the country in the AP Poll, the Ducks are looking to have a magical season, when it is all said and done.
Enter “Elite Pete”….
Petersen has a history and affinity for winning big games and against opponents that he should not be beating, based upon rankings.
This trait dates back to his days back at Boise State, where he turned a WAC program into a national powerhouse and contender.
This year, the #25 Huskies are currently 3-point underdogs to the #12 Oregon Ducks, even with the game at Husky Stadium.
In year six of the Petersen era at Washington, this game feels like a program defining moment for Petersen and his program.
“All our coaches are evaluated every year even me,” Petersen said about self analyzing themselves, as an entire coaching staff.
With the season already being at 5-2 with a couple bad losses, this coaching staff has a tremendous opportunity to make a statement.
That statement is what Husky fans are looking for! Nobody has questioned the success or the hire but rather want to know where things are headed?
Many are taking solace in the great recruiting efforts and results that Petersen and his staff have been getting the past couple of seasons.
If the Huskies lose this weekend to Oregon, then the armchair quarterbacks will say that Petersen’s program has hit the wall and isn’t improving.
“I feel like around here we need to change that whole narrative,” senior inside linebacker Brandon Wellington told DubLife, about losing to teams they are perceived to lose against.
On the other hand, if the Huskies beat their hated rivals from Eugene, then everyone will believe in the ascension of the program in year six.
Most of the time we talk about the players and their ability to execute and get the job done, but it feels like this program needs another spark.
More specifically…A year six spark!
With all the hype Petersen receives on a yearly basis, as being one of the top ten coaches in the nation, this is a program and career defining opportunity.
Petersen and his staff have the opportunity to make the loudest statement yet, as to where their program is and where it’s headed.
There is no better time for Petersen to get it done than against the one team that he cannot afford to lose to – The Oregon Ducks!
It’s time for some of that old Boise State Petersen magic to manifest itself this weekend! After all, last I checked, Coach Pete faired quite well against the Ducks while he coached the Broncos.
A resurgent statement from “Elite Pete” is in order, for the perception and stability of his program! Will Petersen sound the siren?
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