Petersen is back in the Fiesta Bowl, 11 years after Boise State's magical finish against Oklahoma.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The moment is etched in the memories of college football fans everywhere, and Boise State’s thrilling finish to the 2007 Fiesta Bowl — the Statue of Liberty run to beat Oklahoma and Ian Johnson’s marriage proposal immediately after — is the one play most often associated with Chris Petersen’s career.
Eleven years later, that’s not something Petersen particularly cares to talk about as his Huskies prepare for their first Fiesta Bowl against Penn State on Saturday.
“After the game went down, we really tried to spend a lot of time moving on from it because that’s all anybody wanted to talk about,” Petersen said Friday morning. “And we really wanted to move our team forward and not live in the past. For probably three or four years people (would) bring it up and we just act like it didn’t happen, didn’t hear the question, move on.”
Opponents continue to live in the past. Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry said this week that he went back some 10 years to watch Petersen’s old trick plays from Boise State.
When relayed that message, Petersen smiled.
“I think that’s a lot of wasted time and energy,” Petersen said.
Less is more for the Huskies when it comes to trick plays these days. There is a part of Petersen, certainly, that loathes his reputation as some sinister trick-play specialist. He and his offense are more than that, of course. But he doesn’t mind that opposing defenses have to spend so much effort preparing for those trick play.
“You want those guys looking at that stuff and getting away from their base fundamentals,” UW offensive line coach Scott Huff said. “That’s why you do it.”
In the buildup to the College Football Playoff a year ago, there was similar chatter about Alabama pouring over every trick play Petersen had ever run. In the Peach Bowl, the Huskies ended up running one trick play — a short run by backup quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels (who had lined up as an H-back) to convert a third down. That was it.
“We don’t want to be known (for trick plays), but hopefully people see the details in those plays and understand, ‘OK, that’s just those,’ but the real beauty is the detail they have and the pride they take in all their schemes and all their plays,” Huff said.
Huff was in his first season as a full-time assistant coach during Boise State’s undefeated 2006 run to that ’07 Fiesta Bowl. Of course, in the moment, that game and that Statue of Liberty play was special for everyone involved.
“That was awesome. That was so cool. I can’t even tell you how awesome that game was,” said Huff, a Phoenix native now coaching in his fourth Fiesta Bowl (he’s 3-0). “For me, in my first year, in my backyard to be the Fiesta Bowl and then have that game go down with that ending — it was unbelievable. Talk about a fairy-tale ending.”
Huff, who will have a hand in play-calling against Penn State, teased that, yes, the Huskies could have a similar trick (or two) up their sleeve Saturday.