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December 7, 2013

What to expect

New Washington head coach Chris Petersen is an exciting hire for the Huskies. After some research, here's a short guide for Husky fans on what they can expect from "Coach Pete."

On offense, Petersen like all coaches, wants his quarterbacks to play at their highest level. If the quarterback succeeds in Petersen's offense, then the rest of the offense will click. He prefers a cerebral quarterback that can execute a game plan and make the right decisions. At the same time, running the football is Petersen's number one priority. If junior running back Bishop Sankey returns next season, he could find even more success within Petersen's system.

Innovation and trick plays are two things that come to the outsider's head when characterizing Boise State's offense. This couldn't hold truer, especially after the infamous Statue of Liberty and hook and ladder plays at the Fiesta Bowl in 2008. Yet, it is a false perception to view Boise State's offense as gimmicky under Petersen. Coach Pete said his team views themselves "as a hard-nosed, blue collar outfit."

The one quality the trick plays do reveal about Petersen is his fearlessness. If he believes he can pull of a trick play, he won't second-guess himself. Following the blue-collar characteristic, Petersen prides his offense's ability to limit turnovers.

Expect to see a potent offense. In his very first year as offensive coordinator at Boise State, Petersen's offense scored a school-best 602 points, leading the team to a 13-1 record.

On defense, Petersen's No. 1 priority is to stop the run. Without a doubt, he'll be facing faster and stronger players in the Pac-12 conference - so accomplishing this goal not only will require schematic strategies, but also will depend on recruiting the right types of players.

Petersen also mentioned in this interview that he wants to eliminate explosive plays and make the first tackle. If defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox decides to keep his position and coach with Petersen at Washington, Husky players will be able to pick up right where they left off next season.

Perhaps the biggest change Petersen will experience will be the new level of recruiting him and his staff will have to succeed at in their time at Washington. Petersen prefers the tough blue-collar athlete - the recruit who'll work hard. At Washington, he'll be able to easily woo those types of underrated three-star recruits, but he'll also have to prove he can keep five-star players in-state in Washington and beat out USC and Oregon for the wealth of talent in Southern California.

With that said, Petersen has proven an excellent developer of talent. He's sent several players to the NFL during his tenure - players who weren't star recruits coming out of high school.

It will also be interesting to see what kind of coaching staff Petersen builds at Washington. Wilcox is obviously someone who he's had mutual success with. I'd also imagine it'd be a smart move to keep Marquis Tuiasosopo around - his connections to the Washington program are strong, and having that loyalty around the program is important.

Tosh Lupoi would also be a huge difference-maker, especially on the recruiting side of things. Petersen will probably look to ring some of his staff with him, but he's willing to the roll the dice with unexperienced coaches - as long as they have a hunger.

As a coach, Petersen is best characterized as a teacher. As part a former member of "The Gang," Petersen and eight creative and innovative leaders in Boise met to exchange ideas on leadership on a bimonthly basis. Boise State business professor Nancy Napier said Petersen is a "master at asking questions; asking 'How can we do it differently?' 'How can we do it better?'" While he may not enjoy the media spotlight, he definitely enjoys the teaching aspect of coaching.

Overall, you can expect a strict program at Washington. Petersen won't let his teams be marred by off-the-field problems. He's willing to hand out suspensions if players aren't behaving well outside of football. All of Boise State's 16 seniors are expected to graduate next spring. His teams have ranked second in the nation in the NCA's Academic Progress Rate for the past two years.

Without a doubt, Petersen is in new territory at Washington. He has more talent, a bigger budget and higher quality facilities. He'll also face a fair amount of pressure, but he's proven he can win at Boise. Now he'll just have to prove he can win at Washington.


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