Washington coach Chris Petersen hired Justin Wilcox as a defensive coordinator when he was 29. The two face off as opposing head coaches for the second time Saturday.
Washington football coach Chris Petersen gave California coach Justin Wilcox his first defensive-coordinator job when Wilcox was 29, while Petersen was coaching at Boise State.
Wilcox stayed in that role from 2006 to 2009, with Boise State posting a 49-4 record, which fast-tracked his coaching career.
Now, for the second straight year, Petersen and Wilcox will oppose each other as head coaches Saturday when Washington plays at California.
“He’s great; he’s awesome,” Petersen said Thursday of Wilcox, who was defensive coordinator at UW from 2012 to 2013. “I knew when he was playing (at Oregon). I was the receivers coach when he was a (defensive back). That’s how far we go back. There are certain guys you are around that you always know, ‘OK, whatever this guy decides to do, he’s going to do it well.’ And he’s been that guy.”
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After leaving Boise State, Wilcox was the defensive coordinator at Tennessee (2010-11), Washington (2012-13), USC (2014-15) and Wisconsin (2016) before getting his head-coaching job at Cal. The Bears were 5-7 last season and 4-3 this year.
“That was the guy we wanted all along,” Petersen said of hiring Wilcox at 29. “That speaks volumes right there.”
The first meeting between the two did not go well for Wilcox. The Huskies won 38-7 last year in Seattle.
Petersen didn’t get into particulars about the status of running back Myles Gaskin and tight end Hunter Bryant.
“He’s getting closer,” Petersen said of Bryant, the sophomore tight end who had knee surgery in June.
Gaskin did not play last week because of a shoulder injury, and Petersen said he is “still hopeful” Gaskin can play this week.
He was less optimistic about DJ Beavers, the linebacker who has been out since the season opener with an undisclosed injury. A couple of weeks ago, Petersen said Beavers was close to returning.
“That’s a frustrating one, it really is,” Petersen said. “If a guy’s going to be out as long as he’s been out, we’d say it at the start. We thought he was going to be back in a couple of weeks. He just hasn’t healed like we all thought he would. … Hopefully we get him back before it’s all said and done.”
On the fake quote attributed to Petersen about Alabama’s schedule in a CBS broadcast, he said: “I wish I had a great comeback, but I’ve got nothing. … I wouldn’t even know anything was being said if the (sports information staff) didn’t tell me.”