Chris Petersen was one of the top coaching prospects in the college ranks over the past few years. With any job openings in the last couple of seasons, Petersen’s name was always one of the first to come up as a possible successor. He is no longer the hottest commodity in the college coaching ranks since he took the Washington Huskies job.
Some people are guaranteeing success for Chris Petersen and I hope they are right and I wish him well.
I was a huge fan of the Washington Huskies in the days of legendary head coach Don James. After a slow start after being hired by Washington with 6-5, 5-6, 7-4 and 7-4 seasons, the Huskies exploded onto the scene with a 10-2 season in 1979.
His best season was 1991 with a 12-0 record and a national championship. James’ overall record at Washington was 153-57-2 and included 6 Rose Bowl trips and 1 Orange Bowl. The man could coach and I admired him as much as any other of the top coaches.
When James retired after the 1992 season, he was replaced by Jim Lambright who was mildly successful and so was his replacement, Rick Neuheisel. Lambright went 44-25-1 as head coach and Neuheisel had a 33-16 coaching record. I like Neuheisel as a studio commentator and he was great on the Pac 12 Network but I am not so sure about him as a coach.
When he left, the wheels came off for the Huskies with Keith Gilbertson going 7-16 in 2 seasons and then it was a disaster for Tyrone Willingham and his 11-37 record in 4 years. The Washington
Huskies had hit rock bottom.
The Washington Huskies hired USC assistant Steve Sarkisian before the 2009 season in an attempt to restore the program to the Don James years of greatness.
Sarkisian inherited a roster coming off an 0-12 season in Willingham’s last season. Sark’s first season in Seattle the Huskies went 5-7. Then, they went 7-6 for three straight seasons. The Huskies had something of a breakout season in 2013 with a 9-4 record.
The USC Trojans came calling and lured Steve Sarkisian to Los Angeles to take over as their new head coach.
The Washington Huskies turned to Chris Petersen to take over.
His first season, the Huskies had an 8-6 record. People talk about Petersen as if he is a sure thing to succeed. I hope he really does do well. But, if people are guaranteeing he will do well based off of what he did at Boise State, they may want to step back and take another look.
Boise State was a pretty average college program until they hired the former Oregon Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter. He had a 26-10 record in 3 seasons and got the ball rolling in Boise. But, he was hired away by Arizona State. Koetter was fired after 6 seasons and a 40-34 record for the Sun Devils.
Boise State hired their own former Offensive Coordinator to take Koetter’s place, Dan Hawkins. His time at Boise State really put them on the map and he compiled a 53-11 record in 5 seasons. Hawkins left to take the Colorado job and he put the Buffaloes in a hole they may never recover from.
Chris Petersen took Hawkins place as head coach at Boise State. Petersen took the Boise State Broncos to previously unknown heights and his teams went 92-12 over 8 seasons.
However, Koetter and Hawkins laid the ground work for Petersen to succeed which is why I have never been as big of a fan of Petersen as some have been. Again, I hope he succeeds.
Plus, like at Boise, Steve Sarkisian may have laid the groundwork for a successful stint at Washington for Petersen. Sarkisian took over an 0-12 team in Seattle, while Petersen took over a 9-4 team.
Petersen went 8-6 during his first season for the Huskies last season.
The problem he and the Huskies may have in 2015 is that Defensive Tackle/Nose Guard Danny Shelton, Cornerback Marcus Peters, and Linebacker Shaq Thompson all went in the first round of the NFL Draft. Then, maybe their best player of all, Hau’oli Kikaha, went in the 2nd round. Kikaha led the nation in Quarterback sacks in 2014.
That was a lot of talent to lose and most of their top players on defense are now in the NFL.
In spite of the enormous loss of talent on the defense from the 2014 season, the Offensive Line may be the biggest problem for Washington next season. They lost 4 out of 5 starters from last year’s bowl game. They have Siosifa Tufunga returning at one Guard position with Dexter Charles another Guard with plenty of experience. Coleman Shelton has played some at Right Tackle.
They have plenty of bodies up front and some size, but somebody is going to have to step up.
Quarterback could also be a problem with incumbent starter Cyler Myles taking a leave of absence and not expected to be back for the 2015 season. Myles threw for 2,397 yards and 17 Touchdowns against only 4 Interceptions in 2014.
Troy Williams was his backup last season and he has elected to transfer leaving a golden opportunity for somebody else.
That somebody else could be junior Jeff Lundquist, who at 6-3, 245 is a grown man. He is the only Quarterback left on the roster with any experience at all and he looked to be the best during the Spring Game. Lundquist threw for only 162 yards last season, but he has a strong arm and runs pretty well for his size.
KJ Carta-Samuels is another competitor for the starting Quarterback job. He is a 6-2, 220 redshirt freshman with plenty of ability. He showed plenty of arm strength in the Spring Game and his older brother, father and uncle all played Quarterback in college. The only thing he lacks is game experience.
Jake Browning is the other Quarterback prospect on the Washington campus, but he is a true freshman that enrolled in January. He kind of looked like a freshman in their Spring Game. But, Jake Browning brings in a ton of talent and the numbers to back that up. Browning threw for 16,775 yards. During his senior season alone, he threw for 91 Touchdowns.
Clearly, Browning is not quite ready for prime time just yet, but he has the entire summer to continue learning and improving. Supposedly, he is well liked by his teammates.
The Washington Huskies have several young guys that were very impressive.
One of them is redshirt freshman Running Back Jomon Dotson. He was a terror in high school at American Canyon, California breaking numerous records.
He is a bit on the smallish side, but the kid can fly. The Huskies have several bigger backs on the roster like junior Dwayne Washington who had 697 yards rushing a year ago. Plus, sophomore Lavon Coleman who added 565 yards on the ground. Dotson will probably be a situational Running Back in 2015 and should add some serious explosion to Petersen’s offense.
Tight End David Ajamu made an unbelievable catch in the Spring Scrimmage which showed athleticism that a 6-5, 250 beast should not possess. This guy looks like a future star at Tight End for the Huskies. Washington has Joshua Perkins and Darrell Daniels returning at Tight End, but look for them to be pushed by sophomore David Ajamu.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Huskies Defensive End Will Dissly may have been the most impressive player I saw. Dissly is a 6-4, 275 sophomore out of Bozeman, Montana. Not a lot of top players come out of Montana and Will Dissly was the 2nd ever Parade All-American from there.
This guy has a motor that just won’t stop and that’s one of my favorite features in a football player. He is extremely quick off of the edge. Dissly played some as a true freshman, but probably should have redshirted. In my opinion, Will Dissly is going to be a beast along the lines of a Joey Bosa.
The other guy on defense that really caught my eye was Defensive Lineman Elijah Qualls. This guy is so athletic which is proven by he fact that he was a Running Back in high school and rushed for over 1,000 yards. Now, he is a 6-1, 305 Defensive Lineman with the potential to take over for first round draft pick Danny Shelton. He is big, strong, quick and very aggressive.
Washington will play a tough schedule starting with Chris Petersen’s old team Boise State.
But, this will be Chris Petersen’s chance to prove he belongs among the nation’s elite coaches.