At the conclusion of Wednesday’s practice — Washington’s last major workout before Saturday’s opener at Hawaii – Chris Petersen had more questions than answers about his new team.
The Huskies are favored by 17 points against the Rainbow Warriors, who finished 1-11 last season. However, there’s plenty of uncertainty surrounding this UW team, which begins the season with at least eight new starters.
“I am curious,” Petersen said. “I think there are some guys that have played a lot of football, and we have a lot of guys that haven’t played a lot of football. As a team, how are we going to respond?
“I know Hawaii’s going to play hard. I know Hawaii has some playmakers. It’s a long trip. There’s going to be adversity, all those things. I’m excited and curious to see how they respond.”
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Petersen, who took over in December, remains cautiously optimistic.
Since the start of fall camp 3½ weeks ago, he’s identified new starters at quarterback (Jeff Lindquist), tailback (Dwayne Washington), receiver (Marvin Hall and Diandre Campbell), cornerback (Jermaine Kelly) strong safety (Brandon Beaver) and free safety (Budda Baker).
The position battles at tight end (Joshua Perkins or Michael Hartvigson) and linebacker (Keishan Bierriea or Travis Feeney) still need to be settled before the 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Aloha Stadium.
Petersen, who has a bevy of trick plays in the playbook, will probably remain relatively conservative in the opener and rely heavily on a veteran offensive line and a defense led by All-Pac-12 performers (defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha, linebacker Shaq Thompson and cornerback Marcus Peters).
“We expect all three phases to get something done,” Petersen said. “We really do. Now, where we are, we’ll find out. It’s not all about the defense. … The offense needs to score some points. Defense needs to play good defense and get some turnovers, and special teams better get something done as well. That’s what we expect.”
Huskies plan sightseeing outing
Washington will hold a light workout Thursday morning at Husky Stadium before leaving at noon for Hawaii. On Friday, the Huskies will visit Pearl Harbor.
“I just think it’s important,” Petersen said. “Any time we can, outside of football, give them something that I think is important in terms of the big picture, we’re going to do.”
• On Monday, Petersen said Kasen Williams had not fully recovered from last year’s season-ending leg and foot injury, which might explain why the standout senior receiver is listed second on the depth chart. However, on Wednesday Williams said he’s “100 percent” and “ready to go.”
• The trip to Hawaii will be a homecoming for a handful of Huskies — Kikaha, Micah Hatchie, Psalm Wooching and Shane Brostek — who went to high school there. Hatchie said he expects about 250 family and friends to attend the game.