Chris Petersen: "I think we’re on the same page. And so now it’s time — we’ve just got to execute better and win more games.”
There was, in the words one player last year, “a lot of head-butting” going on between Husky players and coaches after Chris Petersen and his staff arrived from Boise State in early 2014.
So many things were new that first year, which can partially explain an underwhelming 8-6 finish to the 2014 season. Petersen had asked a veteran team to try new things, much of it an attempt to create team bonding. Some of the veteran players were skeptical at first.
Last year, more new: the roster had a major turnover, with 54 freshmen and redshirt freshmen, including true freshmen starters at key positions on offense: quarterback Jake Browning, running back Myles Gaskin and left tackle Trey Adams. That the Huskies closed out 2015 with three straight blowout wins has many bullish about the Huskies’ chances of a breakthrough in 2016 (Sports Illustrated, ESPN and Fox Sports all have UW ranked in their post-spring top 20).
Entering Year 3 — with 86 of the 109 players on the current roster (including incoming freshmen) recruited by him and his staff — Petersen sounds optimistic, too.
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“We need to win; it’s really that simple,” Petersen said Thursday in an interview with Portland’s 1080 The Fan’s “Dusty and Cam” show, co-hosted by former UW tight end Cam Cleeland. “We’re going on Year 3 here, and it’s been a lot of heavy lifting just in terms of getting everybody thinking the way we want them to think and how we think.
“It’s amazing how everybody really does things differently. And I think that’s what you really don’t know from the outside. I mean, everybody lifts weights; everybody conditions; everybody has meetings; everybody goes to class; everybody’s working toward that degree. But the process of how you go about that is really so different from place to place, and you get used to your way and you just kind of assume everybody does it that way. What we’re talking about is culture — how we think and act and our behaviors toward one another.
“And it really starts in the recruiting process,” he continued. “So when you recruit guys a certain way and then they get here and what you said in recruiting is true, that makes things go quicker. But when you come into a place where you’ve done things differently that has worked for you, and you come in and say, hey, we’re going to do stuff like this (and) they’re kind of looking at you like, why would we do it like that? And we’re looking at them like, how else would you do it? So it takes a process to get everybody on the same page, and I think we’re on the same page. And so now it’s time — we’ve just got to execute better and win more games.”
Petersen was asked more about recruiting and playing time for freshmen, which prompted him to say this about Browning:
“I’ve never been around a kid in 25 years that’s been more squared away, more ready to play (because of) how he was coached in high school. Maturity, all those things. Tough. Could grind it out. He spent so many hours in this office on his own. And I asked him at the end of last year: I said, ‘So Jake, what’d you think? How was it? Was it what you thought it would be? And he was like, ‘Oh, Coach — tougher, harder than I thought it was going to be.’ So guys just don’t know how hard this is.”
You can listen to the full interview here.