In The Face Of Adversity, Petersen Must Respond

A new season has dawned on Montlake and it is apparent that the Washington Huskies Football program is searching for answers.

An Offseason of Hope

Last season, the Huskies walked off the field at Rose Bowl Stadium after suffering a 28-23 defeat at the hands of the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Despite losing the Rose Bowl matchup, the Husky Football program was in a good place after winning the Pac-12 Championship a month earlier.

While walking off the field and into the offseason, the Husky coaching staff was tasked with “getting over the hump” and getting to the next level.

It wasn’t enough to just make it to a “New Year’s Six” bowl game, where Washington head coach Chris Petersen fell to 3-0 in those contests.

At the same time, Petersen’s bowl record while coaching Washington dropped to 1-4 and a much needed breakthrough was needed.

Before the start of this season, Petersen said the entire coaching staff assessed every minute detail of the program and improvements were on the way.

One of the biggest areas of improvement was supposed to be fixing the offense, which had it’s troubles under offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan.

A Challenging Season

Fast forward to week twelve of the season, and the Huskies are faced with the task of salvaging their season with the Apple Cup game.

Washington is currently 6-5, 3-5 on the season, with many challenges and pitfalls along the way.  Things were not supposed to go like this.

Yes, everyone was well aware of the youth on the roster and also the vast number of talented departures, but another successful season was the expectation.

What has happened instead is a lackluster season, with some head scratching losses that many can’t begin to put their finger on.

For the first time during his tenure at Washington, Petersen is facing real adversity and as the “captain of the ship” he must respond to it!

All five of the Huskies losses this season haven’t been bad losses and a couple of them the Huskies had the opportunity to win.

Earlier this season against Oregon, the Huskies came out of the gate and played sound football, only to be disappointed with a 35-31 comeback loss at the hands of the Ducks.

Despite losing the game, the Huskies played the #12 team down to the wire.  While losing to the Ducks was painful, the team competed and played hard.

Just a few weeks ago, the Huskies had another opportunity for a signature victory, when the #9 Utah Utes rolled into town.

Once again, the Huskies went “neck-and-neck” with an elite football team and had a chance to win the game, but couldn’t finish down the stretch.

Another disappointing loss for sure but it was validated, as the Huskies gave a valiant effort but fell just short of getting it done.

Those two losses could definitely be conceived when looking at the schedule, as they certainly passed the “eye test” going in.

The other three losses this season are just not understood and the Huskies don’t get a pass with how the outcome turned out.

In just the second game of the season, the Huskies fell 20-19 to an average California Bears team at Husky Stadium.

Yes, many will chalk the defeat up to the fact that the game was suspended by “Extreme Weather Warning,” which was an anomaly.

The stadium was half empty by the time the game resumed but without any excuses, the Huskies still had enough talent to beat the Bears that night.

What is really tormenting Husky Nation is the other two losses that the Huskies have suffered this season, which has been concerning.

Back in October, the Huskies traveled down to “The Farm” and lost a late night kickoff game 23-13 at the hands of the Stanford Cardinal.

Just this past weekend, the Huskies marched into Folsom Field and lost 20-14 against the Colorado Buffaloes during the late night.

Washington had the benefit of the bye week before the Colorado game, and teams coming off bye weeks generally play improved football.

A Common Theme

Both of these losses had the same common theme to them and heading into the games, the Huskies were heavy favorites going in.

The Huskies came out extremely flat, lacked energy and motivation, which resulted in two shocking losses to inferior opponents.

What is mystifying about the two defeats is that typically Chris Petersen coached football teams generally don’t come out and perform that way.

“Laying an egg” is not something that Petersen teams do, which for the first time during the Petersen era has many concerned.

One of the big reasons Petersen was brought to Washington was to make sure these types of losses didn’t happen anymore, like with his predecessor Steve Sarkisian.

Teacher Becomes The Student

Since Petersen and his staff have come to Washington, they have instilled a “Built For Life” platform that his players must abide by and implement.

It teaches his players all the values they will need to tackle adversity on and off the field, and especially when they leave Washington and enter the real world.

Make no mistake, Petersen is in the roughest patch of his coaching career, since he arrived on Montlake six seasons ago.

At this point of true adversity, “Coach Pete” will have to lean on his own “Built For Life” principles to find a way out of this storm.

Every coach goes through challenging times during their career and now Husky fans want to see what “Coach Pete” is made of.

Even the legendary Don James “The Dawgfather” went through down years during his coaching career at Washington.

A Fantastic Resume

Petersen is a fantastic coach and has had tremendous success throughout his career and definitely while coaching the Huskies.

Two Pac-12 Championships, three straight 10-plus win seasons, three consecutive “New Year’s Six” bowls, 5-0 Apple Cup record and a berth into the College Football Playoff for starters.

He has built the Husky program into a respectable program and one that has been relevant on the national stage since he arrived.

Fans calling for his removal as head coach seems like a “huckster” approach and in the grand scheme of things just not realistic.

The Huskies have the right man at the helm and if there is anybody that is fully equipped to get them out of this hole, it’s Petersen.

The Evolution of Chris Petersen

A stark reality is that, what it may take for Petersen to get the Huskies back on track, may lead him to places he is not comfortable with.

Plain and simple, Petersen must change and he must evolve in order for the Washington Huskies to make it to that next level!

One thing is most certain, they can’t enter next season doing the same exact things they did this season or doom is on the way.  Petersen is at a “crossroads” during his Washington tenure and he is right smack in the middle of a quagmire.

Petersen will have to make some tough choices once this season is over, which will certainly involve some changes to his coaching staff.  

Things will need a fresh start and also some things will need to be completely revamped, which will require Petersen to “step up.”

Everyone knows that Petersen is stubborn at times and set in his ways; deeply rooted from his Boise State glory days.

What is apparent is that some of those roots are not working at the Pac-12 level and the evolution of Chris Petersen must begin.

Fans Want A Swift Response

Husky fans are currently frustrated with Petersen’s weekly proverbial answers, comments and staunch cliches after every single game.

People don’t realize that these are the same things he has been saying every season, but the difference is they don’t make much sense during a season of shocking losses.

Husky Nation wants more from it’s CEO and finishing this season strong will help put some of these concerns to rest heading into the offseason.

Winning the Apple Cup and the bowl game will help quiet some of the masses but not all of them.  Petersen and his staff get paid “top dollar” to have a successful program and now they will be earning every cent of it, trying to get out of these challenging times.

There is a perceived “chink in the armor” of Petersen for the first time as a Husky and for a coach who often has seemed nearly “invincible.”

Based upon Petersen’s track record and how he is “built”, the Huskies should come out of this just fine and the best is yet to come.

Husky fans want to see Petersen own this situation and attack it with full steam so they know that he is “Our Kind Of Guy!”



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